Marching under the lights, wearing their uniform with pride, the University of Georgia Redcoat Band is legend. As if playing an instrument is not difficult enough, the band members memorize patterns and music while moving as one unit. BT Alumni sisters, Margaret (2013) and Ellen (2015) Hardin, are both members of the UGA Redcoat Band. For both sisters the Redcoat Band was the first time they ever marched. The Redcoats are an indispensable part of the football program at UGA. What’s a football game without the band gearing the crowds up to cheer on their favorite team?
Both Margaret and Ellen play the trumpet. Along with being part of the school band, Margaret played at Mass on Sundays, took weekly lessons, and was part of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra. Her immense love for music and willingness to try something out of her comfort zone inspired her to try out for the Redcoat Band.
The Redcoat Band was the first time marching for Ellen. “I have never marched before, so I finally just got the hang of walking and playing my instrument well,” said Ellen. “When the season first started, I couldn’t play my instrument while we marched on the field; it was too difficult.”
The Redcoat band was founded in 1905 with about twenty members, and has grown to over 400 members today. Margaret and Ellen both agree that joining the marching band helped them meet some of their closest friends. “My best friends are all people that I met in Redcoats. I even live with two saxophone players,” said Margaret. “The band is like an immediate family when you get onto campus — they are extremely warm and welcoming. I’ve never felt out of place, and I’m seriously grateful for knowing all of them.”
Both sisters were members of the Blessed Trinity symphonic band and pit band. Being a part of the the BT band really prepared Ellen to join the Redcoats. “A big part of staying conditioned with an instrument is regular practice, and being able to go to band every other day definitely helped me to practice range and technicality with the music selected” said Ellen.
Her love for music inspired Margaret to try out for the Redcoat Band her freshman year at UGA; she then convinced Ellen to audition. Having played together at Blessed Trinity the sisters were elated to be able to play together once again. “It is SO fun being able to play with my sister again! I honestly forgot what it was like until she came in this year,” said Margaret. “I really love it — she’s someone who knows how to make me laugh when I may be stressed out about school at band practice. It’s seriously the greatest thing.”
According to Margaret BT’s band, ranging from 60-70 members, is a great way to prepare for joining a college band or orchestra. “Playing at BT helped me prepare to play at UGA because BT provided me with some experience in a larger band setting,” she said. “ I had never played with a group larger than 20 people when I got to high school, and the BT band program had about 70. It helped me acclimate to a huge change.”
For anyone who loves music, said the sisters, joining the infamous Redcoats or anyone musical organization is a great way to continue your passions in college. It allows you to meet lifelong friends who share your interests, continue play and improve on your favorite instrument, and be able to share your school spirit in a way many students cannot.