Student Ambassador Blogs

FALL TO SPRING SEMESTER | Bobby Belzeski | “All-American” Marching Band and Concert Band | Trumpet

My name is Bobby Belzeski, a trumpet studying Hospitality and Tourism Management.  In the fall, I am a member of the “All-American” Marching Band (AAMB), and in the spring I participate in one of Purdue’s many concert bands.  Between these past two semesters, I also participated in two of our athletic pep bands, Boiler Box Band (Women’s Volleyball) and Gold and Black Sound (Women’s Basketball).  Many student in our program take a similar path and transition from one ensemble to another.

The AAMB isn’t like an ordinary marching band, we do things B1G (Big Ten) Style!  All of our playing and performances are supposed to pump up the audience during football games and parades.  During the season, playing is about being loud, sounding good, and putting on a performance students and fans will enjoy!  During the fall, rehearsals are treated as academic classes for two hours every day of the week.  Because of the joy and social aspect we bring to campus, we can truly say that we are the “Heartbeat of Purdue!”

At the end of the marching season, you’ll be asked to do another audition for a spring concert band, jazz band, or orchestra.  This generally consist of two or three etudes, a scale, and a small sight-reading portion.  Everyone who auditions for an ensemble will be placed into an ensemble.  Each of the ensembles play a different level of music, so that each student is challenged according his or her current skill level.

While in marching band, we are used to the almost weekly performances of football games, the concert bands provide about two concerts a semester.  These concerts are just as rewarding and breathtaking as marching though; I personally love the feeling of taking a piece at the beginning of the semester and getting it to such a high level, where I just want to play it over and over again.  Being able to work with some of the directors on such a personal level and listening to music that they have helped compose, arrange, or just conduct is one of the greatest feelings I’ve had in a band setting.

I personally love both the marching and concert seasons, and they both definitely bring different challenges to the table.  I highly suggest joining a concert band regardless of playing ability or previous concert experience, because at a school like Purdue (where there are no music majors), there is always an ensemble for a player like you. Although you may be nervous to join an ensemble, I definitely think it’s the best way to familiarize yourself with the program and get the most out of your college experience!

Boiler Up and Hammer Down!  I hope to see you in one of our ensembles!


FALL TO SPRING SEMESTER | Arielle Selvia | “All-American” Marching Band and Concert Band | Clarinet

My name is Arielle Selvia. I am a sophomore studying chemistry. I play the clarinet exclusively both during the fall and spring semesters. In the fall, I am a member of the “All-American” Marching Band. In the spring, I take up a chair and play in an indoor concert band. I’m sure many incoming students are like me. Meaning, in high school they marched in the fall, and played in a concert band in the spring.

During the marching season, playing is about power and getting your sound out there. Marching band is physical. The music is generally easier, and it is rehearsed often enough that outside practice is rarely necessary. Each home game, we strive to give an enjoyable, flawless performance for our Boilermaker fans. Marching band is a highly social, rewarding activity.

Spring concert bands are rewarding and invigorating. While it feels good to make a Ross-Ade crowd laugh and cheer week after week, I also love the feeling of perfectly performing a beautiful forty five minute long concert twice a semester. While marching band is about the excitement and has a freer feel, indoor band music is more intricate, complicated, and evokes a wider range of emotions and feelings.

I personally enjoy the various methods and aims between the two ensembles. It prevents my musical experience from feeling stale. Any adjusting between two ensembles of different styles tends to come fairly naturally. After a few weeks, I rarely have to consciously think about changing my playing style to suite the spring ensemble after the marching season ends.


FALL TO SPRING SEMESTER | Alex Konopacki | “All-American” Marching Band and Concert Band | Trumpet

My name is Alex Konopacki and I am a Sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering! (Yes, you can do band with engineering). I am from Chicago, Illinois and play the trumpet.  In the fall, I participate in the “All-American Marching Band,” which is one of my favorite communities here on campus.  I like to treat the approximate 2 hours per day I spend in marching band rehearsal as my daily exercise, social time, relaxing time, and time to de-stress.  Then, afterwards I am all ready to hit the books and get my work done for the following day.  When marching season ends, I continue to play my trumpet in concert bands so that I can keep up my skills, as well as learn more about other playing styles.

The transition from marching band to indoor concert bands is very smooth in my opinion.  Instead of going to the band building for marching fundamentals each day from 3:30 – 5:30, I go to the same place at the same time every Monday and Wednesday.  Band still fits in my schedule well and I still get to end my days playing my horn, which I love!  While marching is one of my favorite band activities, it is still so important to continue on to the indoor group in the spring so that you continue doing what you love, whether that be in orchestra, concert bands, or jazz bands.  There are also so many differences between marching and concert bands that doing both has really helped me grow as a musician.

In addition, the concerts I have put on at Purdue with some of my best friends have been so memorable for me and my family!  There’s just something about performing with university directors in venues of 6,000 people that I absolutely love.  Also, college will be one of the last times I will be able to play with my peers with such esteemed teachers so I want to take advantage of that as much as I can while I’m here!  In just a year and a half, this organization has allowed me to study abroad in Spain and Colombia, play at Lucas Oil for the NCAA basketball tournament and football games, meet amazing composers and have the opportunity to play for them, march a different and unique show each week, feel welcome to Purdue, make some of my best friends and so much more!  I really encourage you to participate in any of the opportunities offered from Purdue Bands & Orchestras because it has truly changed my life.  Between the friends, experiences, directors, faculty, facilities, and opportunities you just cannot miss out!  Finally, remember to Boiler Up and I hope to see you here next Fall!


MAJOR & ENSEMBLE | Kristin Darling | Wind Ensemble | Trumpet

My name is Kristin Darling and I am a sophomore in the College of Agriculture majoring in Food Science and minoring in Pet Food Processing.  As a Food Science major, I take a lot of chemistry and biology course along with specific courses related to my major like food packaging, food processing, sensory science, and other courses.  I am also a College of Agriculture Dean’s Scholar.  With this program, I have to take at least 12 honors credit courses by the time I graduate, complete 8 service hours per semester, and participate in a certain amount of Dean’s Scholar events.

I am a trumpet player currently in Wind Ensemble and I have been in the Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra, and the “All-American” Marching Band as a student leader in the past.  Wind Ensemble meets 3 days a week for one and a half hours each rehearsal.  Symphony Orchestra meets 2 days a week for about two and a half hours per rehearsal, but wind players usually only have to be there one day a week.  Philharmonic Orchestra meets 3 days a week for one and a half hours each rehearsal and wind players meet 2-3 of those days.  Marching Band rehearses every week day, for 2 hours each day, and a full day on Saturdays when there is a home football game. As a student leader I spent more time outside of these rehearsals for meetings, helping students, and more.

Although it may seem like I have a busy schedule, I make sure to get my homework and studying done early in the evening immediately after I am done with band or my other classes.  This way, I stay on top of my due dates while leaving my evenings free for relaxing and social life.  My favorite part of my academic school day is when I go to band, because it is a completely different atmosphere from sitting in a 200 occupancy lecture hall taking notes.  It is my only class that I am able to actively participate, do something I love, and have fun with my friends without the worry of missing something in my notes.

No matter how demanding of a schedule you may have, I highly recommend you join Purdue Bands & Orchestras.  The program is more than a great way to meet new people and make new friends.  It is truly a family that will support you through your difficult coursework and busy schedule.  Being a part of this program has improved my time management skills by balancing my coursework with my ensemble rehearsals and concerts.  This is not only a skill that is useful to me now, but it will be an extremely valuable skill in my future career.  No matter what ensemble you join within Purdue Bands & Orchestras, I promise that you will find an encouraging family who is more than willing to help you through your journey at Purdue University.


FAVORITE PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITY | Hannah Zentner | American Music Repertory Ensemble | Alto Saxophone

Everyone loves holiday music, so what better way to celebrate than getting together to play some? As a second-year alto saxophone player in Purdue’s jazz program, our Holiday Cheer & All That Jazz concert is always one of my favorite events of the year. For our last concert of the year, all of the jazz bands get together at Loeb Playhouse to play some fun holiday tunes, and it’s always a full house! It’s a great and very fun way to close out the semester.

Playing jazz in these groups is always a fun experience, but it’s especially apparent in this concert; from wearing Santa hats to Christmas ties, every band does something a little different to show their holiday spirit. The songs, including classics such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Let it Snow,” are always fun arrangements, and we can always tell the audience has a good time. In my band, the American Music Repertory Ensemble, we had the chance to showcase several of the featured singers included in our group that were accompanied by the band as they sang holiday classics.

I’ve been a student at Purdue for three semesters and every semester here I’ve been able to participate in our jazz program; it’s been an amazing experience so far. We get the opportunity to play a lot of fun and interesting songs, with unique themes for every concert. More than that, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people within the program. Sometimes it’s just as much fun talking before rehearsal, hanging out backstage and getting dinner before concerts as it is to play the music! Performing in these groups and getting to know the people in them has really made my time in Purdue’s band department quite enjoyable. My experiences here at Purdue definitely wouldn’t be the same without it!


FAVORITE PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITY | Nikole Miller | Golden Silks Colorguard | Winter Guard

I am a member of the Golden Silks Color Guard and Purdue University Winter Guard. In my opinion, some of the best performance opportunities for my section come during the spring semesters. The winter guard competes in many WGI competitions. The past two years, I have had the privilege to perform with my team at WGI finals in the University of Dayton arena in Dayton, Ohio.  There, we performed incredibly unique shows. In 2014, our show was titled “After Hours,” and the concept was that we were all mannequins in a high-end boutique that come to life and cause trouble when the store closes.  We placed 15th in our class, which consisted around 75 guards. In 2015, our show was titled “West Side Lobby,” and it was a creative spin on “West Side Story,” where we were all bellhops of rival hotels. We placed 12th in our class, which had about 80 guards competing. These experiences are so important to me because I was able to achieve greatness with my second family. In addition, I am very thankful to be involved with the group of people that pushed our program in a new direction that will provide more opportunities for us in the future.

Coming from a smaller program in high school, I never would have thought I would have had the talent or the luck to be in such a successful program. Not many people even have the opportunity or the funding to compete above their regional circuit level, so WGI is only a pipe dream in some eyes. I was one of those students that accepted the fact that I could not reach this caliber of performance, until I came to Purdue. When I found out that we competed in WGI, I was ecstatic. I honestly never worked so hard in my life. I also have never seen a group of people work equally as hard while being exceedingly supportive. In 2014, when we realized we had tied for the last spot in finals, I cannot explain the feeling well enough for anyone to fully understand. A mixture of sheer joy, pride, relief, and even fear washed over me as I emotionally hugged my team. All of us crying and embracing one another because we knew we accomplished our goal and made an impact on the future of the winter guard program. Performing at finals, in 2013 and 2014, was so exhilarating. Being able to see all of the younger students in the crowd in awe at the performance my team and I were giving them brought the happiest of tears to my eyes and the biggest smile across my face. I knew exactly what they were feeling because I was once in their shoes, wishing to be on that floor in the University of Dayton arena. Purdue was able to provide me the opportunity to make my performance dreams come true.

I could never imagine how my college experience would have been if I decided to not join the marching band or winter guard at Purdue. Being a member of the Purdue University Golden Silks and Winter Guard has enabled me to perform to the highest of levels and share my love for entertaining to a number of different places and audiences. Being involved with the guard program is the most constant and consistent aspect of my college experience. I know that when I graduate, I probably will not have another chance to perform again, but I will feel completely fulfilled due my four years of adventures with my closest friends, my teammates. My second family, the guard, are the best people I know on this campus. They are supportive of anyone’s accomplishments inside or out of the guard world.  They are unbelievably selfless, caring, and accepting. They have had a major role in my acclimation to Purdue and every situation that pops up in my life. The bonds that I have made with these people are some that I would want to last a lifetime. The most important thing my second family has done is given me a place where I belong. I know I can call Elliott Hall of Music a second home, knowing that I will always have a family to come home to. Choosing to participate in Purdue bands is the best decision I have made in my life.


FAVORITE PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITY | Casie Blair | Wind Ensemble | French Horn 

I personally love to play at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Lafayette.  Since its construction in 1921, the Long Center has housed various orchestral, choral and theatre productions.  To perform in the Long Center is an honor, as the space is historic and sophisticated.  Playing French Horn in the Purdue Wind Ensemble, I have had the opportunity to play Blue Shades, Rest, Star Wars, Symphonic Suite and several other incredible works. We have performed several delicate melodies and boisterous marches, and the sound that is reverberated is magnificent.  My favorite part about the Long Center is that our concerts are free and open to the public, which is unique for such talented band ensembles.

The Purdue Wind Ensemble has not only played several concerts at the Long Center, but also has performed at  the world-renowned Carnegie Hall in New York City.  This spring will be the tenth anniversary of the Purdue Wind Ensemble traveling to New York City, and I have the opportunity to play French Horn there in March 2016.  Since I have never been to New York before, I am thrilled for the opportunity to explore the city and perform in an impressive and prodigious concert hall.  To have this chance in college reaffirms why I continue doing what I love – playing beautiful music with the French Horn.


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