The Daily Gamecock

Carolina Band sees 40-member increase

New garnet uniforms include more white for player comfort

The Mighty Sound of the Southeast will look and sound a bit mightier this fall.

With about 320 members — up from about 280 last year and 250 the previous year — the USC marching band is the largest it’s been since the 1970s, according to Jayme Taylor, the assistant director of athletic bands. In its second year under the leadership of Director Dr. Rebecca Phillips, the band expects to be a stronger presence on the field and in the stands both visibly and audibly.

“The fans are going to notice (the growth), and they’re going to hear it as well,” Taylor said.

Third-year history and psychology student and returning trombone player Ben Peele said he is looking forward to seeing how well the largest band in three decades plays together.

“We have a fantastic group of freshmen and some really experienced returning members this year,” Peele said. “Our sound is going to be incredible in the stands.”

New members aren’t the only upgrades for the band. The musicians will be marching out in new uniforms as well.

Taylor said the color on the new uniforms, unlike the old ones, actually matches the school’s shade of garnet. They also feature significantly more white, which will be more comfortable for the musicians temperature-wise and will make the band stand out more on the field and look larger, Taylor said. The band will sport white pants at home games and black pants at away games and in cases of bad weather.

Band members credit Phillips’ and Taylor’s leadership with growing and improving the sound of the band over the past couple years.

“Dr. Phillips and Mr. Taylor have done a great job promoting the band, which has helped it to grow,” third-year music education student and clarinet player Laura Zitelli said.

Taylor believes the growth of the marching band is a result of successful recruiting efforts in local and state high schools and is likely also a reflection of the recent success of the football team.

“You can’t deny the influence of a very successful football team,” Taylor said. “The team’s more successful, the band’s more successful, the band helps the team be more successful and it’s a great spiral.”

The band and its leadership have responded to some criticism in the recent past, including scrutiny from fans, student media and university leadership. When Phillips and her team took the reins in Spring 2011, they focused on improving the band in sound and numbers in response to a lot of the feedback they had received, Taylor said.

“At the time, it hurt to be criticized,” Peele said. “Now I can see how much room we had for improvement, and I’m glad we were challenged to be the band that we have become.”

Last fall, the band unveiled a new school song, the “Garnet and Black March,” as well as specific songs and chants for each football down. Those routines will carry on this year, and the band will also be rolling out some new tricks for fans.

The band will perform a pre-game parade through the farmer’s market before entering the stadium, and its on-field routines will incorporate more current “crowd-friendly” pop tunes, Taylor said.

“We’re really looking forward to having everyone’s support out there ... We can be a big spirit engine for the team,” Taylor said.