B is for Band Member: Student majors in sciences, makes room for arts

While the WKU marching band practices between Parking Structure 1 and Diddle Arena on Wednesday afternoon, Elizabethtown freshman Quintin Lyttle contributes on the saxophone. Lyttle began playing the saxophone eight years ago because he “likes the way it sounds,” Lyttle said that he enjoys the marching band because, “It’s just fun to be out and active while you’re getting to play an instrument and hanging with friends.”

Lauren Arnold

Not everyone in the Big Red Marching Band is majoring in music.

Elizabethtown freshman Quintin Lyttle joined the marching band even though he is pursuing a degree in pre-pharmacy and chemistry.

Lyttle has been playing the alto saxophone since the fifth grade and performed for four years with John Hardin High School’s band, acting as a section leader his senior year.

Lyttle is one of roughly 180 members in the Big Red Marching Band.

But while working toward graduating with a science degree, he still wanted to play his saxophone.

He already has a plan for how to put his future degree to use.

“I want to become a pharmacist and hopefully move to a city to further my career and maybe open up an actual pharmacy on my own,” Lyttle said.

He knew that he still wanted to play his saxophone because he has always enjoyed music.

“A lot of people don’t know that my favorite type of music is classical jazz,” he said. “I really love listening to Ray Charles.”

Lyttle said he is an outgoing person who is easy to get along with.

“I’m a very helpful person,” he said. “If someone needs help — I don’t care who it is — if it’s a complete stranger, I’ll stop and help them.”

He said that his daily routine is pretty average for a college freshman, but he looks forward to rehearsals on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

“I get to be myself and hang out with other friends,” he said. “We all have one thing in common, and that’s music.”

Lyttle practices at least an additional hour each day on his own.

Being a member of the marching band is a lot of work, but Lyttle said that the performances are what make his experience worth his time.

He said that seeing the audience get involved during performances is a major reason why he loves marching.

Lyttle said there were times when a future in marching band seemed doubtful for him, especially when the members of his high school band would argue because stresses and tensions rose.

Those rough patches weren’t enough to keep him from playing music though.

“I’m the kind of person that when I start something, I never want to give up on it,” he said.

So far, Lyttle said his commitment to the marching band has not affected his studies.

“It only takes up six hours a week, plus the weekends that we have football games,” he said.

Lyttle will be playing in the pep band, which plays at the Toppers’ basketball games later this year, because he enjoys attending basketball games and supporting WKU.

Columbia, Md., freshman Ashleigh Hardin also plays alto saxophone in the band. Hardin said she and Lyttle were introduced during their sectional rehearsal on the first day of band camp this year, but didn’t really talk until the next day.

“Quintin and a friend of his were sitting together,” she said. “I sat next to them and we started chatting about high school marching band.”

Hardin said Lyttle has been very helpful to her during the marching band season.

“He helps me out a lot with remembering where I’m supposed to be on the field and when I’m supposed to be there,” she said.

Hardin said that she now considers Lyttle a friend, even though they only met a week before this semester began.

“He’s funny and really sweet,” she said. “He’s a really nice guy.”

Jeff Bright, assistant professor of music, is the director of the marching band and said the majority of the members are freshmen.

“Easily, the band is made up of 60 percent freshmen,” he said, attributing this to the heavier workloads of upper division classes.

Bright said that this year’s marching band is one of the largest the university has ever had.

He said the 40-member increase from last year’s band is due in part to a higher retention rate.

In addition to three rehearsals each week, the marching band performs at all home football games, Bright said, and will also go to the away game at Middle Tennessee.

“If at the end of the year, students enjoy themselves, they’ll come back,” Bright said.