Alumni Testimonials

What former members are saying about their experiences.

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When I joined the UCMB in 2012, I was met by friendly faces I had never met before, unexpectedly challenging music, and approachable leadership. Throughout my 5 years in the band, I was challenged each rehearsal by my peers, by the drumline staff, and by the directors. I made my best friends in the UCMB because they were the only people on campus who could understand what it meant to be a part of this special organization! Not only did the UCMB provide me with lifelong friends, but the band prepared me more than I realized for my teaching career. The UCMB and Dr. Mills’ leadership class gave me the tools to be a successful part of a teaching team. I now find it easy to talk in front of groups of people, to share my opinion even if it will be controversial, and to negotiate with administration when I need something. I picked up all of these skills in the UCMB as a marching member, section leader, and drum major. Each year in the UCMB I was faced with new challenges that helped me learn more about myself and gave me new techniques to try out in my career. Joining the UCMB was the greatest decision I made at UConn!
Anna Scillitoe Class of 2017
When I joined the UCMB in 2013, I had no idea what to expect. My high school didn’t have a marching band, so I had no prior experience to look on, and I was nervous about this new prospect. On the first day of preseason, everyone was so friendly and genuinely happy to see that I was joining, and at that moment I knew I had made the right decision. The friendships that I made during band are ones that I will cherish forever, and I will always remember the incredible memories I shared with my fellow clarinets. During my time with the UCMB, I had the privilege of watching both the UConn Men’s and UConn Women’s team win their dual championship, as well as traveling with the Football team and band to St. Petersburg, Florida for what was one of the best Christmases of my life. And because of all the games and exhibitions, my weekends were almost always busy, so I learned how to juggle classwork, band, all while having a social life (much of which involved friends from band). This skill is extremely helpful in my career in Medical Underwriting, but it can be useful in any career path. My time in the UCMB helped shape me as a person, and I would wholeheartedly recommend taking this leap like I did.
Niko Montminy Class of 2017
Marching band has been one of the great passions of my life. It takes time, and dedication, and a lot of hard work; it gives back exhilaration, connection to others, and a strong sense of pride. The UCMB was an integral part of my experience at UConn: in the band, I found friends, mentors, and people who believed in me. I mastered time management, and interpersonal skills, and became confident in my abilities as a leader. The UCMB isn’t just the largest organization on campus, it’s the largest and most diverse support network. When you join the UCMB, you become part of a community that spans all different types of majors and all different types of people, and will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Kelsey Chase Class of 2015
My name is Connor Sullivan and I was an active member of the UCMB from 2010-2014. Coming into my freshman year at UConn, I had already been a member of a competitive high school marching band, so I had a lot of experience to bring to college with me. The year I joined was the first year that the UCMB included a freshman weekend at the beginning of band camp. This allowed incoming freshman to ease into the band without being thrown into a large group of 300+ members all at once. People with little to no marching experience were able to learn in a less stressful environment, while bonding with people they would potentially spend the next 4 or so years with. Personally, I met people that weekend who would turn out to be friends, classmates, travel partners, co-workers, roommates, and people I practically call family. As a freshman, one of the most valuable things that band gave me was a group of friendly faces that I saw throughout campus during my first weeks at school (which can be the most nerve-racking time at college). Throughout my years in band I took on several roles: I became a band member, Designated Marcher, Section Leader, and eventually was honored to become a Drum Major for my final year. I hope to become a teacher someday and through these experiences learned valuable lessons about how to work as a team, plan for rehearsals, adapt to new and different situations, and how to organize, manage, and lead large groups people while still having an absolute blast! Aside from the skills I developed, shows I marched, and music I played, the biggest take away from band was honestly all of the memories of time spent together as a group. Throughout band camp, rehearsals, football games, and other performances, you spend a good chunk of your time with the same group of people and form bonds that will last. That is why I specified at the beginning that I was an “active” member for only 4 years. I will always be a part of the band through my friendships that will ever remain (guess the alma mater got that right), the future bands for whom we have paved the way, and the memories of the incredible opportunities that I was given. One of my fondest memories was getting to rap on the 50 yard line at Metlife Stadium – that’s something very few people can say they’ve done! Being a member of the UCMB was one of the best decisions I made in college and I would urge anyone to give it a shot as it will be a time that you’ll never forget.
Connor Sullivan Class of 2014
Marching Band is much more than just a bunch of kids with instruments, learning how to play random songs and move around a field at the same time. It is a family, a support system, a way of life that never ends after graduation. In marching band I learned the importance of being a part of something that is bigger than me. As one member I am responsible for learning my music and my drill spots, but on my own I cannot make up an entire show. At the same time, the entire show cannot work correctly if I do not do my part. Marching band relies on every member being both independently responsible as well as working as a part of the whole group. As a teacher the same is very true. I am one teacher on a team of teachers. While I am responsible for teaching my students to read and write, it is not only so that they are successful in my classroom, but in all of their classes. In education we try our best to make any interdisciplinary connections so that students can see how all of the subjects come together to make up the whole picture of their education. It is the same with marching band. Every instrument has its part, but it isn’t until you connect them together that you can hear and see the whole picture.

It is about more than just what the picture looks like during the show. Marching Band has given me connections to people that I never went to college with. Through our alumni band I have met many alums who are in various fields around the nation. From teachers to photographers, accountants, and veterinarians, the UCAMB has connections in just about every field you can imagine. Those are the people that I go to when I need to sit and talk about financial decisions with my first job out of college, or if I have a question about my pet. As a teacher, if I am ever looking for a job I have eyes and ears in districts around the state. All I need to do is send a quick message and there is always another alumni and friend ready to help. If one alum cannot help, they can point you in the direction of someone who can. It is a never ending support group that continues to grow with every graduating class.

I am so thankful for the people who I marched with while at UCONN. For the “friendships that ever remain” and for the ones that I continue to build with those who marched before and after my time in the UCMB.

Alyssa Serville Class of 2014
I had a lot of success in Marching Band because it forced me to become more responsible with my time as well as my academics. It managed to make me into someone who needed to balance my time in order to be successful. Because of this, my career after college has been a much easier transition. Keep in mind though; I never felt that it took away from my academic time because school was always first when it came to marching band. As far as my social time, when I joined it felt like making 300 friends instantaneously and I couldn’t ask for anything different, especially coming in as a freshman knowing no one. Marching band created leadership opportunities to add to my resume that greatly increased my chances in pursuing careers that I wanted. I am currently a career firefighter in Connecticut and I know that my leadership skills as a section leader, Junior Representative for Band Council, and various positions in the band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi, has prepared me for the skills I need in my career. As a firefighter and an emergency worker, one needs to be personal at times with those they interact with, whether it be co-workers or the citizens they serve. Learning to be a more interactive person with others was something I was able to achieve in the marching band at UConn.
Jeff Erhart Class of 2004
I found that I did better in fall semesters than Spring as I had no time to procrastinate on assignments. I also liked that I knew 200 people before the first day of classes and there were often at least one band member in most of my classes my Freshman year. Most of my lasting friendships from UConn are friends I made in the band. It is easy to get lost on a campus as big as UConn and not be able to get to know anyone in the first couple of years because it isn’t until you get to your major course work in your junior year that you start to see all the same people in your classes. I loved that I had a life outside the dorm floor. Many of the people I knew on my floor struggled to fit in because they had no organization to be a part of. I always encouraged people to be a part of some organization on campus even if the band was not the right one for them. That way you feel you belong and you are no longer just a number. Being in an organization the size of the band helps you learn to deal with different people and to work together as a group to a common end. If you choose to be a section leader then you can have leadership experience, but you also learn how to manage time, take direction, give direction, and work as a team to get the job done by the deadline. If they are worried that band takes up too much time and there wouldn’t be enough time for the socializing that happens on campus. We all know that the band finds plenty of time for social events. Band members always look out for each other. As a member of the band you can then become a Brother or Sister and find that much more belonging in your UConn experience.
Vicki (Yanosy) Hintz Class of 1998
I joined the UCMB 26 years ago and one of my best friends today is Lapdog who I met on my first day of band camp for freshmen in August 1980 before the school semester started. Many of the friends I have today I met through the band and guard. The bus trips were so much fun and the European tour we did in the late spring of 1982 was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. I would never have had that opportunity or met these friends if it wasn’t for band. Furthermore, we all get together each year when the UCMAB meets and still play on the field once a year. What a blast! School work is very important too. I found that having band practice in my schedule actually helped me. My days were very structured and I got my work done before band. I also drove a university truck with the campus mail room and was in a fraternity. I graduated cum laude with a 3.4 GPA. By having a schedule it made you get your other work done so you can do everything early and have free time at night. Also, it’s been shown that music improves math scores, retention of memory, and generally makes you a happier person. I recommend the UCMB as part of your LIFE experience and it’s your ticket to the UCMAB. You won’t regret your decision to join the band and you will look back and treasure all of your time with the band in 25 years or so like I do.
Michael ``Dudley`` Antonini Class of 1984

For Music Education Majors

In high school I wasn’t a big marching band fan, I did concert band but when it came to marching band I was more interested in running cross country. I had two friends a year ahead of me from high school that were in the UCMB and said they loved it and told me I should give it a try and I’m glad I did!

This was where I became comfortable in college since we arrived a week before all the students came and you made friends even before classes start. Because there are so many students involved in the marching band, it’s impossible to go many places on campus without knowing or recognizing someone.

Marching band gives you so many opportunities that you wouldn’t receive in many other organizations. Easily my most favorite memories are when we traveled with the football team for free. My freshman year we were able to travel to two places: Michigan and Arizona. Those experiences in itself was some of my most memorable times in college. The connections I made were also some of the most memorable. These were people with similar interests and passions as me and you meet these people on day 1 and are with you until the end of college, we also continued to stay friends.

Being a music education major in marching band was also a great choice to prepare me for many different aspects of my current career. I was able to learn from great leaders and teachers who have a lot of knowledge about band pedagogy. I learned a lot about the behind the scenes aspects as well as how to organize a group. Being a section leader and drum major has helped define who I am as a teacher. It helped my confidence, patience and organizational skills as a teacher to be able to handle any situation that is thrown my way. I can say with confidence that I would not be the teacher I am today without being involved with the UCMB.

I now have a dream elementary band job at an arts magnet school and can say that the UCMB helped me get there. It gave me the confidence, communication skills, and knowledge to help me soar through my interview and have a very successful program.

Jill Senczikowska Class of 2015
I attended UConn from 1976-80 and to this day, cannot envision how different my life would be had I not had the UCMB experience. My major was in Music Education, so in a practical way, UCMB was “on the job” training. While I never directed a marching band after college, I DID direct the Georgetown Univ. Pep Band for 3 years and have been overseeing the Pep Band as part of my job during my 22 years with Georgetown. In addition, I currently oversee over 19 performing arts groups encompassing music, theater and dance. My work in Arts Administration and Arts Education have benefited directly by my experience at UCONN where skills including but not limited to: leadership, musicianship, collaboration, problem solving, public relations, marketing, scholarship, intellectual inquiry and responsible celebration of self and one’s accomplishments were learned. Our mentors at that time (Allen Gillespie and Dave Maker) were creative, intelligent and giving individuals. I learned so much about music and life from them. Most importantly, are the friendships. My central core group of friends is still to this day those I made in marching band. We are all a part of each others lives, our children’s lives and despite the distances, we try to spend time together every summer and during the holidays when schedules and travel permit. I think in recent years, it’s been popular for college age students to demonstrate diversity in one’s activities. It seems the more you know a little about a lot of things, the more likely you are to succeed in society, or so the thinking has gone. But I believe that while diversity is indeed good, having a driving force and focus to one’s life allows for a depth of experience that you cannot achieve any other way, and that for me, that experience was the UCMB. I suppose I could’ve been involved in other activities, or even in the rest of the music program (which I was to a large degree through groups like the jazz ensemble and university orchestra among others). But it was the UCMB which has allowed me to be the person I am today, and there isn’t a day which goes by that I don’t think about my UConn friends and my UConn days as a part of the UCMB.
Ron Lignelli Class of 1980
I graduated in 1996 and we had some incredible times in band. My fondest memories of college are mostly about band. I started out as a music major and I will tell you that being in Marching Band was great for me. It taught me how to budget and plan my time. It also was a great support system as well. We encouraged each other to go to class and get your studying done. Many a time several band members and I would trek to the library and study together. It was very helpful and I think beneficial to anyone that wants to participate. Yes it’s a lot of work and time but it’s all worth it in the end. Band became my family and many of my friends now are band members as well. You not only become a member of a wonderful organization but you also make lasting friendships that really can make a difference. I went onto to become President of the Alumni Band for two years. Now I have kind of gotten away from it having started a family but I always keep the UCMB close to my heart and I’m very eager to see what new stuff Dr. Mills and Marvin come up with at the beginning of the season. Being in the UCMB is a truly rewarding and life altering experience that I would recommend and encourage to anyone to join. TUP!
Jen Bradshaw Class of 1996

For Pharmacy Majors

I tried out for the band in the summer of 1969, was first an alternate, but I was a “first-stringer” by the summer of 1970, the year to band toured Europe. When I recall my years at UConn, inevitably my mind takes me to my band experiences. I am now the Director of Pharmacy at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The pharmacy program is one of the most rigorous, but I was able to handle my band and classroom/study obligations. I am not a natural learner–I had to study hard, but I still had time for all. In fact, having multiple obligations forces you to handle multiple obligations, a valuable, life-long skill. Having the multiple-obligations forces one to stretch, and once you do, the success builds confidence. The confidence becomes internalized, and later, you face the peak challenges with calm and assuredness. Also, being part of something that is great teaches you to recognize greatness, learn the elements of greatness, and learn how greatness is achieved. It also teaches you that the result is always worth the sacrifice and the hard work. Remember it’s just for the fall semester; comparatively, the spring semester appears easy. Also, two of my best life-long friends are UConn band members. My kids have recently viewed a UConn band video. They have plans to play in marching bands as well. The rewards don’t end. I advise all to take the plunge. Don’t miss the totality of the college experience.
Marc Summerfield Class of 1974
Just prior to starting the Pharmacy program at UConn, I was advised by my counselor to not initially get involved with Marching band until I got used to college life and the rigors of a demanding program. Of course I didn’t take his advice, jumped right into marching band and had my best semester while at UConn. Joining Marching band as a freshman allows you to get to campus earlier than everyone else, get yourself over the initial transition from home, socialize and start to appreciate what being at UConn is about. Having been in Marching band, Pep Band, Jazz band, etc., the experiences will stay with you forever. Personally, I’ve gotten probably more than I could have imagined then out of a hospital Pharmacy career and realized that you can keep a really satisfying side interest in playing after your career is over.
Harvey Martin

For Parents

I was an Electrical Engineering major back in the 70’s and found plenty of time to do marching band – about an hour and a half every weekday (Monday – Friday) and a good chunk of nearly every weekend all fall. Back in those days, the band could travel in 4 buses and we went to many away games because they were all pretty nearby (UMass, URI, UNH, BU, etc.). I never gave it much thought to be honest – time wasn’t an issue. I also have the perspective of a parent. My son went to Penn State and had the honor of marching with the PSU Blue Band. At one point his grades were slipping a bit and my wife questioned whether or not he had the time to do marching band – maybe that was the problem, she thought. So being the engineer that I am, I said “Let’s do the math.” OK, here goes:
In a week of 7 days, 24 hours each, there is a total of 168 hours. Assume (and I am rounding very high here, I think you will agree): 9 hours of sleep every night (yeah, sure) and 3 hours for 3 square meals every day, that leaves just 84 hours. Now assume 18 hours of classes per week and 40 hours of homework (a very heavy load), leaving just 26 hours. It is a rare week that marching band takes more than 20 hours, so there’s still almost an hour a day to goof off.
So no one can say there isn’t enough time to do marching band unless they are also trying to work full-time or watch too many hours of TV every day. The fact of the matter is that I found having marching band in your day puts structure around your time and helps you manage it better.
Jim Ray UCMB Parent