There is nothing quite like an HBCU homecoming. The school spirit, the festivities, the alumni, are all taken to a whole nother level. I myself have experienced a few, growing up as an Aggie (North Carolina A&T State University) baby.  As a freshman, I was excited and ready to experience my own homecoming, especially at Howard. However, my own experience would be slightly different since I am a member of the Howard University Showtime Marching Band. HBCU bands are legendary in their own right, and when it comes to homecoming they are an essential part of the experience and expected to put on an amazing show. As the weeks approached, I expected to put in a lot of hard work.

When Monday hit, I knew there was a lot of work to be done, we also had a couple performances planned that week, which affected the amount of practice time we had to put together a show. On Monday, we performed at the pep rally, and on that Tuesday we were the surprise guest at the #YoutubeBlack Fanfest. It was a tough pill to swallow, realizing that I would be in practice during most of the week’s festivities, but those performances softened the blow. The reaction and love we got from the crowd, our fellow Howard classmates, at the #YoutubeBlack Fanfest was exhilarating.

In addition to performances, the Showtime marching band trombones and trumpets were scheduled to battle in front of the fine arts building Friday night. I met with my fellow trombone players and alumni to practice for this battle. These meet ups, or as we bandsmen call them “sectionals,” often extended into late night hours. It was amazing to meet and play with so many alumni, who were so talented and taught us so much. Of course, I was nervous, but the energy and vibes were great. There was music, and people were enjoying themselves. My family even arrived in D.C. in time to witness the battle. After it was all over, I was proud of myself and all of us who played. Many of the alumni mentioned to us how something that event was very rare to happen, so it is something that I will always cherish. 

The big day had finally arrived. It was Saturday and now time to perform in the parade, and the main event, the homecoming game. We spent all day in the bandroom, from running our show, to practicing the parade, to eating lunch and finally preparing for the game. Many former Showtime members were there, and there was pressure to impress them.

The game itself was like a party. Lance Gross and Laz Alonso, took pictures with the band, which was a very surreal experience. There was a huge crowd and so many band alumni having a good time. As a freshman, it was amazing thing to be a part of a legacy through the Howard University band.

Halftime was our moment of truth, and I knew we had a good show planned and all we had to do was execute it. It can be nerve-wracking performing in front of big crowd, and knowing so many alumni and students are expecting so much of you. However, I believe we did a great job and the reaction of the crowd confirmed it. After the ending of the game, we played and performed some of the favorites of the band alumni. I loved seeing them dance along to the moves that we continue to use today.

As homecoming came to an end, I realized my first homecoming was a success. I did my job when it came to band, go to be with my family, and they got to see all my role in the band. I celebrated Saturday evening after a long week of work. With reading my experience, people get to look behind the scenes and see how much work that the band puts in when it comes to homecoming. We perform at so many events, and work diligently to put on a great show for our University. Seeing what it means to all those people and how it contributes to their homecoming experiences makes it all worthwhile.



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