So You Want to be a Marching Virginian?

Admissions season has arrived for Virginia Tech as the class of 2023 received their Hokie acceptance letters! Somewhere in that horde of thousands of new freshman are a few band kids who want to audition to become members of the Marching Virginians! This post is for you guys! So you want to be a MV? Who could blame you!? It’s a fun organization with so many amazing people and opportunities attached. Of course you want to start your college career out with something like that!

Director Polly Middleton addressing the band at the beginning of Band Camp 2018; Source:  Facebook

Director Polly Middleton addressing the band at the beginning of Band Camp 2018; Source: Facebook

I’m writing this post to prospective MVs as something I wish I had when I was first going into the audition process back in Fall 2017. Lucky for you, I’ve been through the audition process twice, so I know how big of a relief simply knowing what you’re getting into can be. Let me take you through the process step-by-step.

First, you need to fill out the Marching Virginians interest form on the Spirit of Tech website. From there, you will be put on a mailing list to receive music, information, and anything else you’ll need to know before you show up for band camp. The most important thing to do here is PRACTICE! If you’re unsure of how to play any pieces you’re given, I recommend looking the songs up on the Marching Virginians YouTube, some recordings of us playing should help you out. When music gets released, leadership letters should also be sent out. These are letters written you by your sections leaders and rank captains for the upcoming season! I’ve found these letters very helpful in making me less nervous when I go to meet my section leaders in real life - they’re just people who love marching band as much as you do!

The 2018-2019 Piccolo Section; Source: Erin Slezak

The 2018-2019 Piccolo Section; Source: Erin Slezak

The week before class starts is Band Camp. An email will be sent out to give you itinerary of the week and let you know when to come to the Marching Virginians Center (MVC) for registration. At registration, you will meet several MVs who have volunteered to meet and help the new freshmen. Auditions start on Tuesday of that week. You will be given your audition time and location as well as an instrument provided by the MVs in the event you don’t want to audition on your own instrument. Auditions are held in Lane Stadium, and you are responsible for walking down to the stadium and getting to your audition on time. Don’t worry though! Lots of MVs will be scattered along the way to make sure you don’t get lost. 

In Lane, you will be in a practice room until your audition time. You will be in a room with your section leader and a professor from the music college who specializes in your instrument. From there, the audition itself should feel pretty familiar to those of you who have auditioned for County/District/All-State Band. You’ll play a couple scales, one of the pieces of music you received over the summer, and a piece of sight-reading. Once you’re done with that, you’re finished for the day.

Marching Rehearsal During Band Camp 2018; Source;  Facebook

Marching Rehearsal During Band Camp 2018; Source; Facebook

Wednesday morning you will be out on the field at the MVC early in the morning under the beautiful, hot Blacksburg sun (please pack lots of sunscreen). You’ll meet the rest of the rookies you’re auditioning with and your section’s rank captains. You’ll also learn how to march in the MVs, learn commands, do some marching drills, and probably learn how to dance the Hokie Pokie. That afternoon, the returners arrive for their auditions. That night, everyone, rookies and returning MVs, will play music together. This is one of the most fun parts of the week. It’s so nice to sit down under the pavilion and play really fun music with three hundred other people who are also so happy to be back into the marching season. Then you’ll go back to your dorm, take an amazing shower, and sleep like a rock.

Thursday is the last day of the audition process. You will be back on the field at the MVC where you will do a lot of the same marching fundamentals and drills, but this time you’ll do it with the returners (they need a little practice too). At one point, the returners will go under the pavilion to practice music on their own, and while they practice, you will learn how to read drill and do a quick show of about 10 or so sets to a recording.

Music Rehearsal During Band Camp 2018; Source:  Facebook

Music Rehearsal During Band Camp 2018; Source: Facebook

Thursday evening will look a lot like the night before, and you’ll play music with everyone again. At the end of the night, lists will be posted on the side of the MVC to see if you made the band or not. This is by far the hardest part of the week for everyone; rookies, returners, and leadership especially. If you don’t make the band, it’s not the end. You can interview to become a manager (it’s a lot of fun, I would know) and re-auditioning the next year is always an option. You’ll be surprised at how much more comfortable you are coming back the following year, and how many people will be rooting for you.

I hope this gives you some insight into the audition process to become an MV. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds, and I know we’re all looking forward to meeting you this summer!