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Marching Band Takes the Field

The Kansas Wesleyan Coyote Marching Band is a dream come true for Sarah Bernard-Stevens, who is now directing the only marching band in the KCAC.

Bernard-Stevens, assistant professor of music, bassoon instructor and director of bands, says marching band is in her blood. She honed her musical marching skills at Alliance (KS)
High School, where she played bassoon and was the drum major. While studying Music Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she made a bold attempt to join the Cornhuskers Marching Band.

“They needed baritone players. That was my ticket in. I learned to play one and passed the performing test, but when I tried out, I had no arm strength,” she said. “The marching baritone is very heavy, and I couldn’t hold it up for an entire four-minute song! But I did play my bassoon in the UNL Symphony Orchestra, Concert Band and Wind Ensemble.”

At Kansas State University, while earning her master’s degree in Music Performance and Conducting, she assisted with the 350-member marching band, helping band members find their places on the field while learning their halftime routines. In 2012, when she joined the Kansas Wesleyan faculty, she dreamed of starting a marching band, but she didn’t have the adequate number of students until fall 2014.

“When I came here, we had only 12 kids in band, so it was too small to do this,” said Bernard-Stevens. “We did a lot of building and worked on fundamentals to give us a better sound. Then we were in the twenties, and I thought it was a good time to start it.”

The 25 students in the fall 2014 marching band and drumline began slowly, learning parade-style marching. Bernard-Stevens described this as a kind of “training-wheels” period, sticking to pre-game festivities and pep band duties. When 37 music and non-music majors enrolled in band for fall 2015, there were enough students to produce a football pre-game show. “What really sparked this whole thing was
the new stadium on our campus,” noted Bernard-Stevens.

For the stadium’s grand opening, the band performed its first half-time show. Joined on Gene Bissell Field by Cheer and Dance members who filled in spaces in the configuration, the musicians formed a giant “W” while playing the Kansas Wesleyan fight song.

The marching band was well received by the students, alumni and community members who attended the football games in the new Graves Family Sports Complex. Bernard-Stevens is proud of how the band enhances the game day atmosphere and hopes that each year it will grow a little bigger.