Seven times every fall 90,000 Nebraskans gather to watch the Cornhuskers. This means that 14 times every fall the University of Nebraska Cornhusker Marching Band takes the field to blast tunes into the sea of red. Without question, the Cornhusker Marching Band, CMB, is an aspect of the pageantry of Nebraska game days. Throughout the stadium, you can hear people announce along with Nolan Schmit, the voice of the Cornhusker marching band, “Ittttttttts showtime,” as the band begins their pre-game show. The band is a significant part of the game day experience, yet few people stop to ponder how it comes together.
Every weekday morning, for an hour and 20 minutes beginning at 7 a.m., music can be heard echoing out of an empty Memorial Stadium. An artistic combination of brass, woodwind, and percussion ring throughout the empty seats as the Cornhusker Marching Band practices that week’s show. Eight times every fall, the nearly 300-member band has a brand new show to perform.
The pregame show is a constant and the first show the CMB learns each year during band camp. The show remains the same each week besides swapping out the fight songs of visiting teams. The true wonder is how the band manages to learn brand new halftime shows for each game, even when games are only a week apart.
The band has anywhere from 5 to 7 hours of organized practice each week, according to CMB member Jonathan Duke. While a good portion of that time is spent practicing drill moves, Duke says the hardest part of learning each show is memorizing the music. On top of the hours of organized practice, CMB members have to practice for hours every week on their own. Listen
The difficulty of the music changes from week to week according to Duke. Each week each CMB member has to memorize 3 to 4 new songs and pass a memory check before gameday.
Aside from the hectic nature of learning new shows with such a quick turnaround, playing in front of a large crowd is no easy task, as Duke can attest. Listen
Finally, after countless hours of work each week, the product comes together and the Cornhusker Marching Band takes the field and puts on a show. Listen