What does it mean to be a Marching Virginian? Although the MV experience is different for each individual that is a part of the organization, there are a few words that represent the group as a whole. In trying to discover how to sum up the MVs for those who may not be a part of the band, I went to the people who know it the best: The Marching Virginians themselves. I asked one simple question: “If you had to describe The Marching Virginians or your MV experience in one word, what would it be?” The responses, overwhelmingly positive, were incredibly unique and descriptive, despite being only one word. I decided to dive a little deeper into a few of the one-word responses to provide some insight into what it is really like to be a Marching Virginian, whether you are a rookie or a super senior with many years of experience.
Band: our primary reason for existence is to provide music for Virginia Tech and the surrounding community. With over 330 members, we all come together to combine music and marching in new and captivating ways and to cheer on our teams to victory in the best way we know how - with music. Many students at Tech want to find a way to continue playing their instruments in college, and this is the perfect opportunity for them. With stand tunes during football games, pep band gigs at hospitals, nursing homes, and around campus, and Incredible halftime shows, it’s one of the best ways to continue being part of a band ensemble.
Friendship: it’s no secret that, more than likely, you will meet your best friends in this band. With so many individuals with various majors, backgrounds, and interests, you are bound to find more than a few people you click with. There’s no better way to spend a gameday than with your best friends in the north end zone, and an overwhelming number of people agree that one of the main things that makes this band so special is the lifelong friendships you will gain over the years.
Unforgettable: if you talk to any member of The Marching Virginians Alumni Association, they will probably be happy to tell you about their favorite game or memory with the MVs. Although some of them were in the MVs decades ago, it is those times with The Marching Virginians that they remember most from their time at Virginia Tech. For members in the band right currently, the moments that seem insignificant now may be the ones you remember for years to come. Some of the best memories come from mishaps, mistakes, and pleasant surprises, and so many of the incredible moments experienced in this band will stick with you for a lifetime.
Dedication: if you imagine a typical one-credit-hour course, a 90 minute rehearsal five days a week, game day commitments that take up half of your weekend and hours of travel to and from rehearsals and games each week probably wouldn’t be it. Nonetheless, marching band is only one credit, and it is one that the members show relentless commitment to on top of their already packed schedules. Each and every member understands the importance of their role in the band and how the musicality and visuals of a show can be affected if they miss a rehearsal or game. Therefore, members always show up and perform their best, whether it is running through drill over and over on a rainy Monday evening or playing their heart out to “Danger Zone” as we hype up the crowd and football team for the biggest game of the season.
Family: although there are a few members of the band who have actual family members in the ensemble with them, more often than not, families are created through the numerous friendships in this band. The bonds created between individuals in the MVs are forged through intense rehearsals in the heat, long weekends spent preparing for and performing in games, and practices that seem to last for hours on end. It is no surprise that they are some of the strongest you will ever make. The MVs are incredibly caring and passionate people, and the people you meet in the band will become a part of your band family; you’ll meet up from time to time over the next few decades, be bridesmaids/groomsmen in each other’s weddings, or even be the ones getting married - all part of an inseparable bond between fellow band members who come to feel like family.
Life-changing: I will be the first to say that auditioning for The Marching Virginians was quite possibly the best decision of my life. It has helped me learn about myself, grow in my personal, technical, and musical skills, and meet people who I know will be lifelong friends. College is such a crucial point in many people’s lives, and having a strong support system and creative outlet can make all the difference for any student at Tech. I have no doubt that the MVs will be my favorite part of college to look back on, and it is definitely one of the organizations that has changed my life for the better, as it has for so many other members of the band in numerous and unique ways.
Spirit: the word that the highest number of people used to describe The Marching Virginians. Given that we are called The Spirit of Tech, the word “spirit” is very fitting, as it applies to not only the band as a whole, but the never-ending spirit that is evident in each and every member of the organization. There is no group on campus that has a spirit as relentless as ours. If there is a torrential downpour, frigid blizzard, or intense heat wave, we will be there, and we will perform our best. Whether our team is up by sixty points or down by seventy, we will be there, and we will perform our best. No matter the weather, score, or circumstances, The Marching Virginians always provide music and excitement for the listeners, and we will always do it to the best of our ability. We are all one team, and every single day, we work together to truly embody the spirit of Virginia Tech and The Marching Virginians in each practice and performance we have.
Although there are so many more words that can be used to describe the MV experience, these are just a few that seem to be common across the band. The fantastic thing about being a Marching Virginian is that your own experience will be different from everyone else’s around you. A myriad of words can be used to describe what it means to be a Marching Virginian, but everyone joins together with a few core takeaways from their years as an MV. United by music through a band over 330 strong, The Marching Virginians is an incredible group unlike any other. Although it may be hard to describe it in just one word, it is truly an experience that is one of a kind.