Nolda reflects on leading the Cornhusker Marching Band

· 4 min read

Nolda reflects on leading the Cornhusker Marching Band

Steffani Nolda leads the Cornhusker Marching Band as a drum major.

Steffani Nolda, a senior music education major with an emphasis in saxophone, grew up watching Husker Football from her hometown of North Platte — but she was also always paying close attention to the Cornhusker Marching Band.

Now leading the band as a drum major, Nolda talked about her love for the “Pride of all Nebraska” and described the lifelong lessons this experience has taught her.

Talk about why you decided to apply to Nebraska, and what propelled you to become involved in the Cornhusker Marching Band.

As I was growing up in western Nebraska, it was always a tradition to watch Nebraska football games as a family. When I started to play saxophone, I began to pay close attention to what the band was doing. I also attended many summer camps at UNL and was able to meet the faculty and experience what collegiate band was like. The early exposure made me fall in love with the university. I always knew I wanted to be a Husker.

What is your favorite part about the Cornhusker Marching Band?

It is so hard to name just one thing as my favorite part of the band, as we gain so many amazing experiences and life lessons. But from the beginning, I always knew that the CMB (Cornhusker Marching Band) would be there for me. When I first auditioned my freshman year, I knew nobody at the university. The members of the band welcomed me and every other auditionee with open arms. As soon as you make the band, you become part of the family. No matter what major someone is, or where they’re from, they are welcome.

How will your involvement in the Cornhusker Marching Band help you in the future?

CMB has helped me to grow in a multitude of ways. I have been able to improve as a musician, leader and overall person. The early mornings and cold weather have taught me how to persevere when I may be uncomfortable or tired. Performing in front of 90,000 people each week has taught me how to be confident and prepare materials in advance. Being a drum major has taught me how to work well with a large group of people, solve conflict and help other people to grow. Regardless of a degree or future career, these are just a few things that we are able to use in our daily lives.

What does preparation for game day look like for you as a drum major?

As a drum major, the preparation for game day starts all the way in May, almost three months before the first home game. As soon as we are announced as drum major, we begin to meet as a team to practice, learn materials and plan for the upcoming season. During the season, we learn a new halftime show for each home game, seven in a season. We spend the week learning the music and drill for the show as an entire band. As drum majors, we study the score for the halftime show in order to assist in the learning process and are able to conduct on the podium. Once game day arrives, it is mostly just time to perform.

What is your favorite part of game day?

Pregame is my absolute favorite part of game day. Pregame is when the band performs about 20 minutes before kickoff and plays our fight songs, the national anthem and the visitor’s fight song. This is a huge part of our tradition as the CMB. The drum majors have the honor of leading the band out while running onto the field, followed by a mace routine (spinning mace), and the famous lean back. Even though I have been able to perform pregame for a few years, I still get chills every time we step onto the field and can hear the crowd cheer.

Who has impacted your time at Nebraska?

The band staff has impacted me the most here at Nebraska. They have guided me and my fellow band members through so much growth. The directors, Dr. Barber, Professor Falcone, and Professor Bush are the most supportive and always have the best advice. As a future band director, I will look up to them in my own teaching every day.

What is one piece of advice you would give a student looking to join the Cornhusker Marching Band?

The biggest advice I could give to someone auditioning for the band would be to of course come prepared, but most importantly to have fun, be ready to learn and have a positive attitude.

What is something you’ve learned that will stick with you after you graduate?

The CMB has taught me how to be confident, yet kind. This will forever stick with me past graduation.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

After graduation, I will apply to become a high school band teacher somewhere in Nebraska and share all the knowledge and experience gained here with my own program.

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