Bringing new life to the band

Deb Waggett mercilessly banged on a drum and heckled the Norwich University soccer team.

“Hey number 10 you’re cute,”  joked Waggett, who brings as much school spirit as anyone in the Castleton University Athletic Band.

But when the idea of actually marching with the band came up, Waggett chuckled said “yeah, I don’t see that happening for me anytime soon.”

You see, Waggett is different among her bandmates.

She’s not a student.

She’s actually an education professor at Castleton University who plays percussion and bass guitar with the band.

While most students and professors are looking to start their weekends on a Friday afternoon, the Athletic Band is gearing up for practice.

And Waggett is right with them.

“I love stay and play late on Friday afternoons with the band,” Waggett said, with a big smile.

In the first month of being part of the band, Waggett has enjoyed many aspects including seeing the percussion group changing instruments between songs and having everyone being on the same level musically.

But performing in a band with half of the students being non-music majors, could there be some drawbacks for Waggett?

“With more music education majors taking classes over here, it may get a little weird if too many of them are taking classes in the education department,” she said with a chuckle.

One aspect of band that both Waggett and her student bandmates share, is that it provides a release from the everyday pressure of classes and work.

“The band is a stress reliever. Even if you’re having a rough day, it’s easy to go to band,” said junior Carly Patch.

Band Director Steven Klepner said he loves that Waggett has joined the band.

“It’s one of the most important things for teachers to see how students act outside of the classroom,” he said.

Klepner, who marched with the band during the 2016-17 season as a graduate assistant, doesn’t see many challenges with Waggett joining the group. It’s an entry-level program which makes it easy for anybody to participate, he said.

“I would love to see more staff and faculty join the marching band, ” he said.

Klepner, who is in his second year, has made a major push to rebrand the band and he’s passionate about having a positive impact on people.

“The Marching Band’s purpose is to give back to the community too,” he said.

In the past year, the band has not only played for both football and hockey teams, but has also established a great relationship with the soccer team as well.

“The men’s soccer coach asked me last year if the band could come and play for them during their playoff run last season,” he said.

During the renaming of Spartan Stadium to Dave Wolk Stadium, the men’s soccer team was seen dancing and clapping along with the band.

“I would love to see some of the soccer guys join the Marching Band in the off-season so that they can get an inside look at what we do,” he said.

But Waggett isn’t the only Castleton professor who enjoys playing music outside of the classroom. Fellow professor Helen Mango, who teaches in the science department, found her passion for music when she came to Castleton. She performs with an Irish band called Extra Stout.

“There’s just something about music that tends to bring people together,” Mango said. “The Marching Band brings fun and joy to the campus of Castleton University.”

Asked how they could get more professors involved with the band, students offered a few ideas.

“I think more students should bring up the idea of marching band in class more often to catch the attention of both students and teachers,” said freshman Sullivan French.

For Waggett, the decision to join has been rewarding – and a whole lot of fun.

She recently talked about how the band sang happy birthday to her daughter who was visiting from Colorado.

She called her band-mates a “super-great bunch of students” and spoke about how much fun she’s having with them. And when speaking with a fellow professor who was helping a student reporter with this story seeking a “cool quote” to end it, she was quick with a response.

“Does he have a cool quote? Because my coolness factor has tripled since playing bass guitar with the band!”      

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