Cornhusker Marching Band provides virtual spirit for Husker fans
calendar icon27 May 2020 user iconBy Kathe C. Andersen
Lincoln, Neb.--The Cornhusker Marching Band provided some spirit for Husker fans watching the virtual Spring Game on April 18 with a video featuring members of the band playing “Dear Old Nebraska U” remotely.
Husker fans were encouraged to experience the annual Spring Game “in a new way,” thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nebraska Athletics streamed a video game simulation of a Red-White Nebraska Football game in Memorial Stadium featuring rosters comprised of Husker football legends.
The Cornhusker Marching Band presented “Dear Old Nebraska U” during the pregame, and the popular video (viewable on the Glenn Korff School of Music’s YouTube channel at https://go.unl.edu/r67f) has been viewed hundreds of times on various social media platforms.
The video was put together by bandsman Nolan O’Keefe, a senior studying mechanical engineering with a minor in music technology.
“I couldn’t have been happier with how the project turned out, and the job done by all of the students, especially Nolan taking the lead the way he did and making it happen,” said Tony Falcone, senior lecturer director of the Cornhusker Marching Band.
Videos like these, popular to create by various musical groups during the pandemic, are not as easy as they look to produce, Falcone said.
“Most people don’t realize how difficult those are to put together,” he said. “They’re not done on Zoom, as it may appear. You can’t sync the timing (I’ve heard the attempt first-hand and confirm this). The students recorded their parts individually with instruments they had at home (University-owned instruments and flags had been returned), and Nolan collated, edited, synced and mixed the whole thing together. It’s a tremendous amount of work that he turned around in less than a week. Thanks goes out to HuskerVision as well, as they provided a valuable assist.”
Falcone reached out to the band asking for someone to lead this project, and O’Keefe, originally from Reading, Pennsylvania, volunteered his talents.
“A week or two prior to him asking, I had edited together a similar video for my a cappella group, UNL’s Pitch Please (https://go.unl.edu/84tu),” O’Keefe said. “With this experience, I was motivated to offer my skills and lead this project.”
The band was motivated by the popular trend for these kind of videos during the pandemic.
“The idea for the video came from a viral trend where musicians would put together these ‘video collages’ of their band/group performing a song while they were all at home practicing social distancing during quarantine,” O’Keefe said. “After seeing some other collegiate bands partake in this trend, the Cornhusker Marching Band wanted to give it a try. Coincidentally, the folks at HuskerVision reached out to us because they wanted some type of performance by the band during the virtual spring game, so they were really the ones to initiate this project.”
O’Keefe collected a video from at least one bandsman from each section in the band.
“Everyone in the band has access to a MIDI file that they could play with in their individual videos to ensure they stayed in time,” he said. “Ultimately, they had free reign to do whatever they wanted in the video.”
After getting all the submissions, O’Keefe stripped the audio from each video to import it into an audio editing software program called Pro Tools.
“With this software, I made sure all the audio files were properly aligned and balanced in order to replicate the same sound quality the band produces on the field,” he said. “Once I was content with the sound, I bounced all the files into a singular audio file to use in making the video.”
He used Adobe Premiere to stitch all the videos together.
“The first task was puzzling all the videos together to fit in a 1920x1080 frame,” he said. “Once I put all the videos into one frame, I made sure the videos aligned to the audio file. After that, it was just a matter of cleaning up the video (i.e. adding the red borders and the ‘Go Huskers’ text).”
O’Keefe was pleased with how it turned out.
“I am very proud of the final product,” he said. “The audio came out great, and it was really interesting to watch all the bandsmen having fun in each of their videos.”
His biggest challenge was just the timeframe, having only one week to collect and edit the videos.
“If I were given an extra week or two, I probably could have doubled or even tripled the amount of people in the video, and I could have done more unique things with the editing,” O’Keefe said. “Regardless, I think I was able to turn out something very fun and exciting in a week’s time, which I am extremely proud of. Taking on this project was a real test to my skills and leadership, so it was very exciting to see my video broadcast during the virtual spring game knowing thousands of Husker fans were watching.”
The band has received a positive response to the video.
“I’ve received many comments from viewers of the virtual Spring Game, who said they had tears in their eyes listening to our school song played by the actual students,” Falcone said. “I hope it gave a moment of hope and pride to Huskers everywhere as we work through this challenging situation.”
O’Keefe said it was important for the band to be part of the virtual Spring Game.
“After watching the video, I hope people realize that quarantine cannot even keep one of the largest organizations at UNL apart,” he said. “There are many tools to stay connected during these strange times, and my video was just a small part in a larger project to keep Husker fans together. The band has always been an integral part to the Husker Gameday experience, so it was important we were represented in order to replicate that same gameday experience.”
O’Keefe is grateful to Falcone for providing him with this opportunity and all of the bandsmen who participated in the video.
“Without them, there is no video,” he said. “I hope everyone is staying safe during these times, and that while we are separated, we are all united by the scarlet and cream colors that define UNL.”
The students who participated in the video included:
Abigail Ridder (Marimba)
Nestor Pelayo (Euphonium)
Ian Maltas (Trombone)
Katherine Schmit (Trumpet)
Austin Essman (Trombone)
Kylee Sodomka (Trumpet)
Aurora Kenworthy (Clarinet)
Celeste Kenworthy (Clarinet)
Paul Circo (Trumpet)
Emily Donnell (Flute)
Alyse Monismith (Clarinet)
Abby Rood (Trombone)
Scott Smith (Alto Saxophone)
Abigail Oetken (Trumpet)
Justin Richard (French Horn)
Sydney McGahan (Trombone)
Evan Ericksen (Tenor Saxophone)
Madison Sides (Color Guard)
Miranda Finn (Piccolo)
Nicholas Reyes (Trombone)
Meredith Ollerich (Trumpet)
Danielle Botdorf (Clarinet)
Kason Fiedler (Tuba)