GW’s pep band records music to be played during basketball games

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

GW Bands' director will compile individual recordings into a final performance for sports games.

Fans can’t hear them in person this season, but GW’s pep band will still broadcast their music during basketball livestreams.

Emma Marszalek, a junior and the vice president of GW Bands – which oversees the C-Brass Pep Band that performs at basketball games – said the group is creating virtual videos of several songs and cheers typically played at the Smith Center. She said the group hopes to add “an atmosphere of spirit and excitement” for fans watching the game day livestreams.

“Like every student organization, we are completely remote, which means we had to get creative to ensure that we can keep operating in a way that is rewarding for members and the broader GW community,” she said.

Marszalek said she plays clarinet in wind ensemble for the C-Brass Pep Band. She said the band is recording songs like the GW fight song and covers of current top pop songs, which will be played during ESPN+ livestreams, where fans can watch the games virtually this season.

She said each member of the band records their part of the song, and the recordings are compiled into a single record by the GW Bands director.

She added that in place of in-person rehearsals, the bands have organized weekly virtual practices and social events, like an upcoming “non-denominational Secret Santa,” virtual dinner parties and music appreciation discussions where members can socialize and chat about music topics that interest them.

“Traditionally, band is an activity that requires being together so that we can listen to each other and make music as an ensemble,” Marszalek said in an email. “Recognizing that virtual band will never be the same as playing together in person, we have shifted our focus to more community-building and music appreciation-oriented activities that ensure virtual band adds value to members’ lives and preserves the essence of what band should be.”

Kaitlyn Paeth, a senior at GW and the head librarian for GW Bands, said she is usually responsible for keeping track of all of the sheet music. For C-Brass, Paeth said she would put together “flip-books” that pep band members need to stay organized during games.

“Typically the librarians have to do a lot, especially for C-Brass, in terms of organizing music and making [the music sheets] available,” Paeth said in an email. “Now as a librarian there’s no need for me to have office hours, as what is on the virtual library, a Google Drive folder, is what we have and everyone in the pep band can easily access it.”

Paeth added that the group has needed to alter its practices because they can’t perform next to one another. Paeth said the group has needed to “listen and learn” from one another while members play online, and the group splits into breakout groups to practice.

When it comes to playing during sports games, Paeth said the group will continue to provide sets both before and during the play.

She said the group uses Adobe Audition to piece together individual recordings from pep band members and produce songs they would usually play in unison during games. Paeth said these recordings will play as the GW First Ladies and GW Cheer squads air their performances during game breaks, just as the band would do in person.

Paeth said despite the challenge of not being able to practice and be in person with one another, many of the band members are still working together to produce music. 

“I really want to shout out the members of GW Bands in general who have stuck with the bands despite the changes and challenges that have come their ways with the pandemic – I love getting to see all the faces I normally do and the new faces as well,” she said. “They have been through a lot with not getting the spring concert last year, and not being able to return at all this year, yet they continue to persist and make music.”

To listen to C-Brass perform, you can watch any men’s or women’s basketball games or follow the group’s Instagram and website. Both basketball teams will begin the season Wednesday.

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