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Recently, Rutgers’ marching band had its largest live audience ever: more than 80,000 fans at the Super Bowl XLVIII pre-game show. Leading the 200-member band in a performance that also featured the Syracuse University Marching Band was drum major Lindsey Malko MGSA’14. It was the culmination of a stellar year for the Marching Scarlet Knights; Malko and other members of the band appeared on Good Day New York a few days before the big game, and in the fall, the drum line was part of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Playing in Rutgers’ band is a serious time commitment for its members, and Malko is grateful she received an endowed scholarship that has enabled her to focus on rehearsals, halftime shows, and competitions, in addition to her coursework.

What was it like to perform in the pre-game show at the Super Bowl?
It was amazing. I wasn’t prepared for how big MetLife Stadium actually felt, being on the field. As I was running up to the podium, I heard people doing the R-U chant for us. It was breathtaking to step up on the podium, see the full stadium, and know we’re representing New Jersey. The first note the band played was so loud, so powerful, and so full of pride. It was my last performance with the marching band, and it definitely will be one of the highlights of my time at Rutgers.

Can you explain what a drum major does?
Drum majors are the head student leaders of the band. There are section leaders who have control of their own sections and then the drum majors take charge of the group as a whole. We make sure they’re on task for section work, and we conduct and lead them in tempo. We have to memorize all the music and know how to conduct it properly.

You’re graduating with majors in music education and performance. What do you want to do after you graduate?
I want to teach in a high school with a marching band. Marching band is just a different experience than sitting down and playing in a concert band. It is one of the ways schools can promote their music programs. A lot of people go to high school football games and that’s how they really see the music program.

How has the scholarship you received from Mason Gross School of the Arts helped you in paying for college?
I’ve gotten the scholarship each year since my sophomore year and it has really helped. Marching band is very time consuming so it was great that I didn’t have to work. It’s helped me save money and lessened my debt. I have a younger sister who’s also at Rutgers, so any help I can get is great.

Are you disappointed you won’t be around for next year’s 100th anniversary celebration of the marching band?
I am sad about that, and about Rutgers moving into the Big Ten; I’ll miss all that, too. I almost don’t want to graduate because I’ve had too much fun and I’ve really enjoyed my time here.

Give to marching band scholarships to support more students like Lindsey.
Photography by Nick Romanenko.

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