The Thunderbird Marching Band
January 8, 2021
3 mins read

Club Spotlight: Thunderbird Marching Band

Club Spotlights

With its charming and flourishing community, UBC’s Thunderbird Marching Band (TMB) brings an air of harmony and hope during this pandemic.

In the fall of 2020, the club regularly assembled just outside the Nest for rehearsals—while keeping a safe distance among its members and execs. These days, the club meets online, hosting rehearsals and music workshops from the comfort of their homes. The TMB’s devotion to playing together despite these times seems to exemplify Ella Fitzgerald’s words: “Music is the universal language [that] brings people closer.”

In contrast to other Club Spotlights, this spotlight is rather unique: All 7 execs from the club contributed to what you’re about to read, which just goes to show how close-knit the TMB community really is!

A band is born

Ever since it formed in 2012, the TMB has collaborated with diverse campus organizations, such as the AMS, UBC Athletics, and UBC Arts & Culture. In a typical year, you’d likely have caught the club marching in parades and enlivening events—like Imagine UBC!—their musical strains and cadences gracing the campus air. 

“We practice a variety of music, from short cheers to pop songs arranged by our very own members,” says the TMB President Lia Pennefather. 

“And being one of the few Canadian universities with a marching band really sets us apart,” remarks the TMB Secretary Tristan Kozyniak.

In the fall of 2020, Dr. Santa Ono even provided the TMB with a grant for designing and procuring proper marching uniforms—which, as the club’s Drum Major Nicolas Moss puts it, was “a big landmark in the band’s continued evolution and growth.”

Like many other campus organizations, though, the TMB has had to make some changes due to COVID. 

“Back when we were holding in-person rehearsals, we offered instrument-specific masks to members to reduce aerosol dispersion,” the TMB Treasurer Ethan Lee explains. “Through this approach, alongside occasional online events, we made sure to minimize COVID-19 spreading. When in-person rehearsals are allowed again in the future, we will go back to offering instrument-specific masks.”

Halloween Gig 2020
Drumline rehearsal

And now that the club exclusively meets online, they’ve expanded their range of event offerings.

“We have workshops covering music theory, arranging and marching, as well as music challenges,” says Lia. “For the challenges, our members submit creative videos and vote on their favourites. Plus, we do occasional social gaming nights!” 

Duet Challenge over Zoom

New faces, skilled or starting—always welcome

Luis Nogales, the TMB’s Logistics Officer, highlights how supportive the club’s community is. “We try to foster a community where all individuals are welcomed,” he says. “Anyone with any level of musical experience can practice and improve their skills.”

“We have everyone from marching band pros to people who just want to learn how to play a new instrument,” says the TMB Quartermaster Katya Hernandez-Pol. “We are always happy to have new faces!”

“And there are no auditions,” Tristan reveals, “no requirements for members to attend a certain number of gigs or even rehearsals. By attending, you'd get many opportunities to improve your musicianship and get to know your fellow musicians.”

And as the TMB’s Publicity Officer Sheena Yan tells me, there are plenty of reasons that the members love being part of the club, including:

  • Meeting new friends who are also passionate about music
  • Being in a supportive and friendly community
  • Learning about marching 
  • Getting to try a new instrument, regularly practice and arrange music, and try out conducting a band
TMB Social via Zoom

Want in? You can join whenever!

Given that no audition is required, you’d get straight to playing in the rehearsals. Sheena says that new members who join near the start of term get to “play classic tunes like ‘Hail UBC’ and ‘Word Up,’ and try out some basic marchings!”

The annual membership fee for 2020-21 is $15, including an instrument-specific mask for the year! The membership fee covers access to all TMB events and resources throughout the school year: You’d even get to sign out your own band jacket and uniform.

“We wear these band jackets for regular gigs, and band uniforms for bigger and more formal events,” explains Sheena. “We conduct uniform fittings for all new members each year and every member will have their own during their time in the band.”

If you'd like to sign up for the TMB, simply:

Or, if you want to get a feel for the club before joining, Ethan and Sheena suggest: 

  • Browsing event highlights and rehearsal clips on the club's Instagram and YouTube channels
  • Checking out the latest news on upcoming gigs and rehearsals!

This winter, get in the musical groove with the TMB, wherever you may be! 

The first ever online rehearsal's on Thursday, Jan 14 (5.30 pm)—the Zoom link will be posted in the TMB's Facebook group and Instagram bio. Everybody in the club hopes to see you there!