The Kansas State marching band will have a fresh sound this year after it replaced all of its instruments with about $180,000 worth in new instruments.
Band director Frank Tracz said some of the instruments were 25 years old, and it just became more cost-effective to buy new instruments than to repair the band’s existing stock.
“They last a long time if you take care of them, and we take care of them, but some of the smaller instruments, especially woodwinds, they do not last that long,” Tracz said. “The pads, the keys, the springs, they will just deteriorate. It’s good money on a bad car.”
The set of instruments came from the only American-made instrument company, Conn-Selmer. As a Conn-Selmer clinician, Tracz was able to acquire the new instruments at half the valued price.
Drum major Blake Moris, graduate student in transportation engineering, said new instruments always bring excitement for musicians.
“Anytime you get a new instrument, you’re just pumped to play it, jazzed to play it,” Moris said. “It just gives that much more energy. New horns just sound better.”
Tracz said he believes having the new set will encourage students to take great care of their instruments.
“When you get a new car, you clean your shoes before you get in it, you wash it three times a week, you vacuum it twice a week —you take care of it,” Tracz said.”They appreciate that. It’s just exciting to have something new in your hands, it works.”
Lane Porter, sophomore in electrical engineering, said he enjoys the functionality of his new instrument.
“It’s more slick,” Porter said. “I’m finally able to move some slides and valves.”
New instruments, same work ethic
As the sun glistened on the backs of marching band members rehearsing in the sweltering August heat at Memorial Stadium, Tracz said he’s always been impressed by the work ethic of his students.
“Football games might get this hot, we have to be ready for it,” Tracz said. “These kids have [that work ethic] … and they’re just having fun. It’s 95 degrees outside, it’s another 20 degrees on that turf.”
On the field, water breaks are a norm.
“Hydration is key,” Porter said. “Dr. Tracz is always kind enough to let you run out and get a drink of water whenever you want to.”
At a rehearsal Friday, university president Richard Myers thanked the marching band, reminding them of their significance.
“So many people see you,” Myers said. “To a lot of our [alumni], you’re K-State. Thank you.”
Although the band has played at different events already, the marching band’s biggest debut of their new instruments will be Sept. 1 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, when the Wildcat football team will face off against the University of South Dakota Coyotes.