Audition FAQs

1. HOW MUCH TIME DOES BLUE BAND REQUIRE?

The Blue Band rehearses Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4:00–5:45 pm and Tuesday from 7:30–10:00 pm during the Fall semester. On Saturdays with home football game performances, the band rehearses for approximately one and one-half hours in addition to game day performance activities. Total rehearsal time for most band members during a game week is less than ten hours. Percussionists, silks, majorettes, and student leaders have an additional two to three hours per week of sectionals/meetings.

Consider this: A full-time student at Penn State is permitted to carry 12–18 credits. Each credit translates into one hour of class time per credit per week. University policy states that professors can expect up to three hours of out-of-class work for every hour in class. (There may be some classes that require less.) For the average student (taking 15 credits) this translates into a maximum of 15 class hours and 45 homework/study hours per week — a total of 60 hours. Eight hours of sleep daily (do college students sleep?) would add 56 hours to the total. A half-hour for each meal daily adds another 10.5 (say 11) hours, for a total of 127 hours committed to essentials. Add ten hours of band rehearsal weekly and subtract from a seven day total of 168 available hours. A total of 31 hours remain in the week (or over four hours a day) for walking to class, doing laundry, leisure activities, a work-study job, dating, getting lost in Pattee Library, cashing your checks from home, etc.

Seriously, the point is that most people can plan for, and find the time for, those things important to them.

2. DOES IT COST ANYTHING TO BE IN THE BLUE BAND?

Yes, there are some financial obligations. A uniform deposit is collected from all members at the time of issuance. The full amount is refunded if the uniform is turned in on time at the conclusion of the season. A maintenance fee (non-refundable) is assessed for the printing of music and the use of all University-owned instruments (piccolos, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, mellophones, baritones, trombones, sousaphones, percussion).

All members are required to purchase a blue pep band shirt, official raincoat, white gloves, and white spats, which become personal property. Nike provides black marching shoes during a member's first season, which become personal property as well. All students supply their own lyres, flip folders, etc. Trip expenses (transportation, accommodations, and meals) are funded by Intercollegiate Athletics or the organization hosting the band's performance.

3. ARE THERE OTHER BANDS AT PENN STATE?

Yes. In addition to the Marching Blue Band (Fall semester, Music 081, 1 credit), the Penn State Bands program includes:

MUSIC 079 — Fall Athletic Band (1)
(during fall semester)
R 6:00–7:30 pm
Blue Band Building
Drane
MUSIC 079 — Pep Band (1)
(during spring semester)
Drane
MUSIC 083 — Campus Band (1)
(available spring semester only)
GA
TR 6:30–7:45 pm
Blue Band Building
MUSIC 082 — Concert Band (1)
(available fall and spring semesters)
GA
Section 1: MW 7:00–8:15 pm
Section 2: TR 6:30–7:45 pm (fall only)
Blue Band Building
MUSIC 080 — Symphonic Band (1)
(available fall and spring semesters)
GA
TR 1:25–3:20 pm
128 Music Building II
Glocke
MUSIC 078 — Symphonic Wind Ensemble (1)
(available fall and spring semesters)
GA
MW 12:20–1:20 pm
F 12:20–2:05 pm
128 Music Building II
Glocke

Students who audition but do not place in the Marching Blue Band are placed into the Fall Athletic Band (where they will then have the option to choose to stay or not). Many students who participate in the Marching Blue Band and Fall Athletic Band then choose to participate in the Pride of the Lions Pep Band (MUSIC 079) as well.

All concert band auditions begin during the first week of classes each semester. Auditions consist of a prepared solo or etude of your choice. In addition, you will read from music provided at the time of the audition. Audition information is available outside Room 103 Music Building II at the beginning of each semester.

Other instrumental ensembles are available within the School of Music. All Penn State instrumental ensembles are open to all majors based on competitive auditions except as noted.

The staff and members of the Blue Band wish prospective students would ask the following question:

4. WHAT DO I GET OUT OF BLUE BAND MEMBERSHIP AT PENN STATE?

Blue Band members often identify the following as highlights of their Blue Band experience:

  1. Great musical performance experiences.
  2. Pride for being a member of one of the nation's premier university marching band programs.
  3. Immediate and lasting friendships that help make the transition from high school to a large university setting easier. Annually, the Alumni Blue Band Association (2500+ members) sponsors an Alumni Band performance at Homecoming that allows over 400 alumni to return to campus and recapture the thrill of Blue Band performance, relive memories, and renew friendships.
  4. Opportunities to have an important, valued role in campus life and make an immediate contribution to Penn State as a member of one of its most highly visible and respected organizations. The Blue Band continues a long-standing tradition of excellence that spans over a century of service to the University.
  5. The “rush” of performing for 107,000+ fans in Beaver Stadium. In addition, the Bandorama Concert in Eisenhower Auditorium (2300 seats) is an annual sell-out.
  6. Getting into the football games free. Students are advised to hold on to their football tickets until they know for certain if they have successfully auditioned for the Blue Band.
  7. Great bowl trips! Multiple appearances at the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and many others — including the Rose Bowl!!
  8. Leadership training and opportunities. Many students, music majors and non-majors, find their Blue Band experience gives them an edge in job interviews.
  9. The striving for, and commitment to, excellence that is evident in the esprit de corps and pride of Blue Band members past and present. A lot of work — but worth it.