December 23, 2016
Student Highlight: Trojan Marching Band Member, Rylee Epperson
One of my favorite parts of USC is our band, also known as “The Greatest Marching Band in the History of the Universe.” I remember the first time I heard the band play when I was admitted to USC. I was so excited and I get that same feeling of excitement to this day upon hearing the sounds of the horns. The band is part of what brings the Trojan Family together as we universally recognize the Fight Song and begin to throw up our V for Victory signs. Now, it’s hard to portray the sound of the band in a blog, but we hope you’ll appreciate hearing a little more about the experience of one of our band members. Hear what Rylee has to say about his experience in the USC Marching Band.
Not a day goes by on this campus that doesn’t leave me in utter disbelief of my good fortune. This wonderland of timeless cardinal brick and golden Southern California sunsets was quite literally the stuff of dreams just three years ago, and now that I find myself enjoying the smell of freshly cut grass on nightly strolls by Tommy Trojan, under the glowing watch of VKC’s globe, I never want to wake up.
When I applied, I knew very little about what I wanted for my future. I applied to whatever school let me apply for free, and thought, “I like math, so engineering seems right,” submitting every application minutes before their respective deadlines. What I did know was wherever I went, I was joining the marching band to continue my lifelong passion for music.
No other decision has had more of an impact on my college experience. Since that time, I’ve changed majors, changed career plans, joined and quit multiple clubs, and moved homes every year. The only constant in this time has been the Trojan Marching Band. Regarded as “The Heartbeat of the Team,” and “The Breath of the University,” the “Spirit of Troy” has provided me with invaluable learning opportunities outside of the classroom, from campus employment to cross-country trips supporting Trojans nationwide. All-expenses-paid, mind you.
More precious than any material possessions are the relationships built in this organization. Every member of the band is welcomed to the university a week early to begin practicing for the fall football season. During that week I got the opportunity to meet hundreds of likeminded people, all sharing in the same rigorous schedule to perfect the first halftime show of the year. The idea of the Trojan Family is integral to this university’s band program. My best friends at this university are members of the Spirit of Troy; every breath we breathe as one; every success is a success shared; every struggle is our struggle together.
And make no mistake, there are struggles aplenty. Aside from the physical demands of our marching style and the mental demands of memorizing a new 10-minute piece of music every week, the time commitment can be intimidating. At minimum, each member of The Greatest Marching Band in the History of the Universe (Ever) is asked to spend six hours of the week and Game Days on the field practicing. Coursework, practice, a social life, employment, and other campus organizations quickly took up all of my time as a freshman, and the demands only grew as I’ve progressed in each of those aspects… and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
College is the time to explore. To experience everything. To test your limits. It’s the perfect storm of freedom and energy, and no advice rings truer for me than “You get out only as much as you put in.” Want a high GPA? Put in time studying. Want to buy your family something nice for the holidays? Put in time at work. Want to represent the most recognizable student organization on campus? Put in time with the band. If you want something, you have to make it happen. Want it all? That’s possible too, with enough effort. Just remember – when you find yourself shuffling back home from the library in the middle of the night exhausted by another long day – to stop and look around. Take a deep breath, feel your heartbeat keeping time, and remember: You belong here.