Join the Bands
Welcome to the Yale Bands! Whether you’re an incoming first-year or a veteran Yalie, we’re glad you’re interested. The three ensembles are comprised of more than 125 individuals. They make more than 60 appearances per year and are responsible for the entire heckelphone population of Connecticut. There is a place for everyone in the Yale Bands: the Yale Concert Band is for Yale’s finest classical wind players; the Yale Jazz Ensembles combine the combo and big band styles of jazz and present a variety of music from standards to contemporary charts; and the Yale Precision Marching Band wants to assemble the most fun, spirited group (with room for musicians and non-musicians alike) ever to set foot in New Haven. There is crossover between the ensembles, as some people play in two or even all three bands. The Yale Bands and their members are very important in Yale’s musical world in general. You can hardly find a group of musicians on campus—chamber orchestras, woodwind or brass quintets, pit orchestras, saxophone quartets, theory & composition seminars, music history classes, or even rock bands and choruses—that isn’t touched by the members of the Yale University Bands.
Want to get in on the action?
Every year during the first week of school we hold a general Yale Bands Information Meeting, in Room 301 Hendrie Hall in the Adams Center for Musical Arts, 165 Elm Street. This is a short, informal, optional meeting, but a great resource for students new to the Bands (first year or otherwise). You’ll learn about all the bands and have a chance to meet the Director, student president and drum major and other officers, and returning bands members. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions and sign up for auditions. Please attend. We’d love to meet you!
Prospective students may set up a 15-minute Zoom meeting with the Yale Bands Director, Thomas C. Duffy, by email. Please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also fill out an online information form and a Yale Bands officer will respond.
Yale Concert Band
The Yale Concert Band, the musical center for the woodwind and brass world at Yale University, is best known for its varied repertoire, which spans from traditional marches, world premieres, and crowd favorites to premieres of music commissioned from the greatest composers and theatric pieces (involving choreography or projections). Recent successes for the ensemble include the premiere of projections by award-winning graphic designers to accompany Gustav Holst’s The Planets and the Carnegie Hall premiere of a cantata written by Tony Fok and Su Wei for the band and a chorus of over 100 singers.
The Yale Concert Band travels, too. Recent tours have taken the YCB to Ghana, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, South Africa, Austria, Italy, Greece, Haiti, and Australia. The Band toured Spain in May 2023.
Yale Jazz Ensembles
The Yale Jazz Ensembles “big band” is a 17-piece group that performs a wide variety of music, from Yale’s Benny Goodman archives to the newest, most progressive jazz compositions. The group has performed in the U.S. and internationally at such noted venues as New York’s Village Vanguard and Iridium Jazz Club, and London’s Ronnie Scott’s, and has played with or opened for the Mingus Big Band, the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band, the World Saxophone Quartet, Jane Ira Bloom, Jimmy Owens, and Branford Marsalis. In 2017, the YJE was featured in the University’s two-day jazz festival, “Jazz: A Celebration of America’s Sound,” performing a full concert and clinics with Wayne Escoffery and Wynton Marsalis. In the spring of 2018, 2019, and 2020, the YJE collaborated with the Harvard Jazz Band at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston (with each band taking a set and also combined). In Spring of 2019, the band ended its season with two near-sold-out performances at Dizzy’s Jazz Club at Lincoln Center, with Grammy Award-winners trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Wayne Escoffery. The YJEBB returned to Dizzy’s to perform 2 sets, in April of 2022 and 2023 .
The YJE also has two combos, Legacy and Modern. Some members of the big band play in a combo as well. You do not have to be a member of the big band to participate in a combo, though those auditioning for the big band do get preference in combo consideration.
Yale Precision Marching Band
Imagine, if you will, this scene: a warm spring evening, midnight, in the middle of hahvahd Yard. The calm of the evening—the night before finals—is suddenly shattered by a group of rampaging musicians. To both smiles and water-balloon fire, at the foot of the John Harvard statue these bandies treat Cambridge to “Bulldog” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
The Yale Precision Marching Band is nothing like your high school band. In fact, we’re probably the polar opposite. Schooled in the ancient arts of feng schwee (the placement of buttons on one’s band blazer to channel favorable forces) and shattering concrete with sheer musical volume, we are nothing if not a force to be reckoned with. The fall season finds us at the Yale Bowl most weekends, combining musical prowess with wildly entertaining halftime shows to cheer on our beloved Bulldogs. Come winter, the YPMB shows off its rocking tunes at Yale’s hockey and basketball games. Occasionally we surface at stranger venues, from fencing to swimming, baseball and track and field. No gig is too small to be infused with that extra dose of Yale spirit. Athletic events are standard fare, but you never know where the YPMB might show up. Our travels have taken us to play for former Secretary of State/First Lady Hillary Clinton on the steps of City Hall, to New York for the annual Greenwich Village Halloween parade (in full costume, natch), Giants Stadium, Chicago’s Soldier Field, Madison Square Garden, the Olympic arena in Lake Placid, NY, and even to San Diego, CA. If you want to contribute and you have a pulse, you’ve passed muster - we have musicians of all degrees, student arrangers, script writers, props wizards and more. We’re looking forward to our part in a great season with the football team, the hockey team, and the many other wonders that go with being “A Member Of…” World domination can’t be far away.