Centerpiece of the stands: Pep Band livens up sports games

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The Lafayette Pep Band performs in front of Pardee. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette Communications)

The Lafayette College Pep Band is a student-led, low-pressure ensemble that performs at athletic events in an effort to promote teamwork, boost school spirit and support student-athletes. The band also has open communication with the other pep teams to organize game entertainment, which includes cheer and dance.

The band performs at all of the home football games as well as rivalry games that are held at Lehigh and post-season or playoff games. In addition, they play at both the men’s and women’s basketball home games, as well as post-season, tournament, playoff and championship games. 

Senior Jen Galderi has been involved with the band since her freshman year and has taken over this year as the drum line section leader.

Galderi explained that students who want to join simply have to email or direct message the band. The band does not hold auditions to be a member, but the student’s musical ability may be assessed by the director in order to assign parts.

“Everyone’s welcome no matter the experience level,” Galderi said. She explained that the music they play contains parts of varying difficulty level in order to cater toward different skill levels.

Freshman tenor saxophone player Cristal Castillo explained that although she hadn’t played in two years, the band made her feel excited to grow musically and to show off school spirit.

“It was the best experience of my life,” Castillo said. “It was very reassuring to know that this was a space where it was fine if I was messing up. It was like, ‘Just come in and try your best, that’s all we want.’ It’s a really positive space to be in.”

Students in the band are encouraged to bring and play their own instruments, but they are able to check out instruments for free if necessary. 

Senior Ryan Wedeking is taking over as co-conductor this year and explained that the role keeps him on his toes as things are constantly up in the air during sporting events.

“You kind of have to have your head on a swivel because you can’t really be playing music while there’s sports happening,” Wedeking said. “You have to be aware of a lot of things at once.”

Castillo explained that the band practices in the Williams Art Center, where they often break out into “sectionals” for more individualized attention. Additionally, the band has the opportunity to bond with the members of their section during Band Camp, which occurs for the members of Pep Band during Orientation Week.

The group gets together to practice several times a day during the camp, but also participates in non-musical activities to spend time with each other. This includes bowling together, having movie nights, game nights, scavenger hunts and BBQs. Additionally, the pep band worked with the first-year orientation program to play music for events like Convocation.

Something new the band is doing this year is joining the football team at their game at Temple University, according to Galderi.

This year, Wedeking is looking forward to the “random shenanigans that happen in the stands,” while Castillo said she is most looking forward to playing for her first Rivalry game. “The energy is already big in the practice room,” she said.

Galderi is also looking forward to her first home Rivalry game with the pep band playing since they hadn’t been able to in previous years due to Covid-19.

“We’re a team and a community,” Castillo said. “We really look out for each other as musicians and as people.”