The Thundering Herd marching band is the sound of the football field and the music in the stands of the Rhodes Field House.
According to Wesley Parker, the director of the band, their show features music from a legend.
“Elvis is pretty far-reaching, even college students know who Elvis is and probably have heard a handful of Elvis songs,” Parker said. “Whether it’s in movies, or on the radio or whatever, but it goes all the way through the older generation. They all know Elvis and the songs.”
According to Parker, the Thundering Herd has a new look along with a new sound, including music from Daft Punk.
“For the first show I wanted it to be more modern, more new, more fresh,” Parker said. “That was kind of the idea behind it, to come out with new uniforms and then also come out with a little bit of a new sound.”
According to Parker, one of the best things about band directing is the students.
“I love my students,” Parker said. “My students make my job absolutely one of the best things that I could possibly imagine. They’re easy to work with, they’re fun, they know how to laugh, but they know how to get things done. They know how to be serious whenever they need to be.”
One of the students that Parker admires is freshman Payden Taylor.
Taylor is a cancer survivor and a tuba player for the Thundering Herd.
“Payden is a helper, he is that definition to a T,” Parker said. “If you need anything done, Payden is there, and he is not just there whenever he sees that you need something, he will come up to you out of the blue and say ‘what can I do for you? If there is anything that you need done I’ll be glad to do it.'”
Taylor was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in August 2010, a cancer that affects the lymph nodes.
“I had a lot of faith in the doctors who were telling me, as far as cancer went, this is a very treatable condition,” Taylor said. “It’s been around since doctors knew that cancer was cancer, and then on top of that I had a really supportive church family. They went out and made t-shirts, and sold these t-shirts, and all the proceeds they deposited to a little fund that went towards my family paying for my treatment.”
Besides a supportive church family, one of the things that helped Taylor through his treatment is what he loves to do best: play music. Taylor said the stylistic variety of music the band played that year helped him cope with the struggles he faced.
“I think God used the choices that my directors made that year as a way to connect me to the music on an emotional level, and ever since then I’ve just fallen more and more in love with music day after day,” Taylor said.
According to freshman and alto saxophone player Erin Schuler, one of the best things about being a part of the Thundering Herd marching band is the connections with fellow band members.
“You make a new group of friends and they’re really welcoming of you,” Schuler said. “They help you in any way and they don’t bring you down, they always lift you up.”
According to Taylor, being a part of the band is like being a part of a family.
“It’s even more of a family here than it was in high school,” Taylor said. “The first week we came out before school started for band camp and just right away you could feel the family ties already starting.”