What are you guys?
The YPMB is one of twelve scatter-style marching bands in the country. What does this mean? Most marching bands spend their time on field spelling their name in script or making a swirly line formation while playing the complete works of Andrew Lloyd Webber. We perform halftime shows composed of comedy segments, during which we spell witty things on the field and play really cool rock music. Between formations we run around wildly (hence the clever name “scatter band”). For example: in the past we’ve done a sketch about the rise and fall of Saddam Hussein as a Yale professor, accompanied to “It’s Gonna Be Me” and “Live and Let Die,” one in which we played the “Godfather” theme and dug up Jimmy Hoffa on the 30-yard-line (this was during our trip to Giants Stadium) and the unforgettable George W. Bush sketch, which involved a line of white-shirted bandies and the playing of Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine.” We are also a pep band. During the winter we support Yale’s hockey and basketball teams every weekend. This time of year often leads to playoff travel; we’ve been to Lake Placid, Ann Arbor, MI, MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, and more. We are a mobile attack unit. If there’s anywhere on the Yale campus (or, really, the East Coast - we’re flexible) that needs some relief from pretension, we’ll be there to provide.
We could go on for pages trying to tell you what we are. You’d be best off to show up and find out, really. You won’t be disappointed.
Are the concert band, jazz band, and YPMB separate? Can I join just one? Or all?
The three Yale Bands are separate entities under the same umbrella organization. Each band conducts its own auditions and runs its own rehearsals and performances. There are crossover members for all of the groups and in fact most bandies enjoy being part of more than one group, but membership in one is not required to be part of the others.
What’s my time commitment going to be like?
We’d like to think that you won’t worry about that sort of thing once you get yourself acquainted with the YPMB, but we realize that Yale is a many-splendored thing and that there are still, despite our efforts, 24 hours in the day. The YPMB will take very little of your time - during the fall, we rehearse from 4 to 6pm on Fridays and spend our Saturdays on the football field (from about 9 to 4, usually). That’s it. During the winter, we usually perform at two sporting events per weekend (each during the evening), and we’d like you to be there for it all, but we don’t require that you come to all of them. We’ll cry and miss you, but we understand.
Can I do other extracurriculars too?
Absolutely. There are Yalies from all sorts of other organizations that double as bandies, and without any horrible stretch of their schedules.
How seriously do you take your music?
Of course we care about musicianship - we are the YPMB and we take pride in every show we do. But if you want to join and you aren’t an All-State musician, don’t worry. We have musicians of all levels and we welcome everybody that wants to musically contribute. That goes for arranging as well as playing - most of our music is student arranged, and we welcome input in that department too.
Can I be in the band if I don’t play an instrument?
Sure can! Our props section (AKA Squids) is a vital part of the YPMB - any sign, letter, interpretative dance or gigantic fire-breathing creature you see on the field is their handiwork.
Can I be in the band if I play the electric guitar/bass/accordion/mandolin/
bagpipes/other unconventional band instrument?
Sure can! At one time or another, we’ve had all of the above instruments in the YPMB. With a little ingenuity, we can accommodate nearly any instrument. And if, for some odd reason, we can’t, we will find a place for you in the band.
How do I audition?
The YPMB holds an information session in Hendrie Hall at the beginning of the school year. Auditions follow in early September. We guarantee you’ve never been through a more painless process in your life - the audition is just to see what part we should give you. Don’t stress.
What are the functions of the officers/section leaders?
The Yale Bands maintains an officer corps that works to keep things running on a day-to-day basis, and you can read about what they do here. The section leaders are the crux of YPMB function; there is a representative (or two) from each instrumental section to make sure that it is present, given the right music, well fed with junk food and generally a happy, functioning unit. Your section leader will be your surrogate parent.
I don’t have an instrument. Can I buy/rent one?
You have a few options here. You can either rent an instrument from the band in the fall (for a $50 rental fee per semester) or, if you’re in for the long haul, there are music stores in walking and driving distance from the Yale campus. (Those are also good choices when you find that you need cork grease, valve oil, a lyre or flip folder or something of the sort.)
Do I need to get anything ahead of time?
Well, if you’re really ambitious you may as well begin the uniform search now (but this can be done in the fall too). We in the YPMB wear white jeans with our band blazers, which you will rent from us later. White pants work too. We know, we know, they’re not horribly fashionable, but they look great on the field. So if you can find some white pants, snag them. And if you still really want to bring something, we like peppers and onions on our pizza.
This is all great! What do I need to do?
Well, you should show up to the Yale Bands Information Meeting that will be held Monday, August 29, at 6:30 pm in Woolsey Hall. We’ll attach you to a section leader and make you feel at home.
If, purely hypothetically, I were to end up in Cambridge, MA, with a large group of unaffiliated musicians who just happened to be playing Yale songs, and we decided to walk down the middle of a major intersection at 1 am playing tunes, and someone with an unhealthy attachment to their sleeping hours called the police, and we dodged them for an hour or so while continuing to play, and then we decided to make a break for it, and in the process of hurtling a hedge I lost a sax reed, would the cost of replacing that reed be tax-deductible?
I still have a question. What should I do?
Email the Drum Major, who will happily answer any questions you might have.
Welcome to Yale! We’re glad you’re here.