UNI Panther Marching Band

Article Source: WCF Courier

A throng of University of Northern Iowa marching band members tuned in Cedar Heights Elementary School students to important character-building skills during a theatrical “musicale” Friday [Nov. 8.]

Twenty three marching band members, clad in their newly-minted uniforms of purple and gold, played a round of spirited tunes for an appreciative bunch of over 460 elementary students.

“The energy was amazing. The kids were very engaged and excited,” said Jeni Barry, Cedar Heights school counselor.

Barry and UNI Marching Band instructor Danny Galyen worked together to bring in the band for its first-ever appearance at the school.

A few other Cedar Falls schools jumped on the bandwagon. Orchard Hill Elementary synchronized a similar event during their Friday assembly. On Nov. 22, the UNI group will travel to Southdale Elementary for a 3:00 p.m. assembly.

Barry wanted to incorporate live music into the school’s monthly assembly, which highlights the school’s Character Counts program. It’s based on six pillars of character building: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

For the first lesson, one band member entered the stage late and without his uniform pants, sparking raucous laughter from the children seated around the gymnasium.

“I don’t think you’re quite ready to play; you don’t have your pants on ... Could someone tell me which one of the six pillars he could have done better?” Kody McCracken, a UNI Drum Major, asked the crowd. “That’s right, he could have been a little more responsible.”

Similar slapstick skits highlighted how musicians and students should be trustworthy members of a group by practicing and preparing their music.

One particularly tenacious tuba player tried to steal the show, claiming his instrument was the best and could serve as a band
on its own.

“Maybe he could be more caring by playing with the whole group,” McCracken said.

McCracken and the other band members volunteered to participate in these school assemblies. Many of them, including McCracken, are education majors who stayed after regular marching band rehearsal to practice their skit.

“It’s a good medium to teach them how to treat people and how to treat each other while having fun and playing music,” McCracken said, a senior music education major. He also learned Character Counts while growing up in the Johnston School District.

Galyen said UNI’s College of Education donated funds to transport the band to and from each school.

A few lucky students also got a chance to direct the band and received a free pep band CD.

Parents of Cedar Heights students may have witnessed their child coming home pumped full of Panther spirit Friday since the band got everyone on their feet to jump around for the UNI fight song.

Barry said she hopes to have the band back again for future assemblies.