By Rebecca Friend, Contributing Writer
After a two year hiatus due to state budget cuts, the West Liberty University’s Marching Hilltoppers return to campus. A press conference made the initial announcement of the anticipated marching band’s return on Sept. 21, 2017. This season marks the first time since the fall of 2015 that the marching band will play during halftime.
The return of the marching band also brings scholarships for students. During the press conference, Dr. Matthew Harder, Dean of the College of Arts and Communication and Professor of Music, said, “Every eligible member of the Marching Hilltoppers will receive a scholarship.”
The scholarships are in the form of a tuition discount offered to WLU band members. Harder said, “Each member of the Marching Hilltoppers receives a $500 tuition discount.” WLU plans on continuing to offer these scholarships/tuition discounts every year with funding provided by the institution.
Harder said, “The only requirement is that you are an active member of the Marching Hilltoppers in good standing.” He further explained that anyone interested in joining the Marching Hilltoppers for the fall of 2019 season is encouraged to fill out a general interest form on the WLU Music Department’s website.
The Marching Hilltoppers does some recruiting, but it also relies on general interest applicants to fill spots. “Our band, as is the case with any band, needs to have a balanced number of instruments in order to function. For example, we would not want to have a marching band made up entirely of sousaphones,” said Harder. “As fun as that would be, we need all the instrumental categories filled in proportion.”
The Marching Hilltoppers currently consists of three sousaphones, seven trumpets, three trombones, two mellophones, five saxophones, three piccolos, three clarinets, eight drumline members, and one drum major.
Harder said, “We will recruit band members for specific instruments if we have a need in those areas. Other positions, such as color guard, and twirlers, are simply based on whoever wants to try out. Otherwise if you are in the band, you will receive a scholarship.”
WLU graduate Forrest Earnest said, “I think that it is a fantastic idea, and I’m glad that they are being brought back into the fold of the school. It gives musicians and band members a chance to show off their creativity and skill. Plus, it is always a nice halftime show for the football team.”
The Marching Hilltoppers have been on campus for practices and uniform fittings since early August. They have already performed on Aug. 24 at the President’s Picnic, as well as the Sept. 6 football game against West Virginia Wesleyan College.
If you are interested in watching the marching band perform, their schedule includes the upcoming home football game against the University of Virginia’s College at Wise today, Sept. 22, the Homecoming game on Oct. 20, and the Wheeling Fantasy of Lights Parade on Nov. 16.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Friend