The Cavalier Marching Band, affectionately known as the CMB, is the premier marching ensemble at the University of Virginia.
What's it like to be a member of the CMB?
The Cavalier Marching Band was initially founded in 2003 as a result of generous donations by Carl and Hunter Smith, which subsequently funded the purchase of instruments, uniforms and the construction of the Hunter Smith Band Building in 2011. Following a year of preparation, the CMB made its debut performance on September 11, 2004 at the UVA vs UNC football game, under the direction of William Pease. Mr. Pease served as the Director of Bands at the University of Virginia from 2003-2019. In its first season, the CMB totalled 170 members, including many members of the former Pep Band, which had preceded the CMB, and members of local community colleges, including Piedmont Virginia Community College. The CMB has since grown to over 320 members, with representatives from over 80 different majors from every undergraduate school on Grounds. The Cavalier Marching Band has participated in several prestigious performances including at the Military Bowl (2017), the Belk Bowl (2018) and the Orange Bowl (2019). Additionally, the CMB performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2015, and was featured in the 2009 movie "Marching Band," directed by Claude Miller. The CMB is housed in the Hunter Smith Band Building, which is located within the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds along with the Drama Building & Ruth Caplin Theatre, the Fralin Museum of Art, Campbell Hall, the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library and Ruffin Hall.
Just as every university is different, so is every marching band. Every band creates a different culture, and a different atmosphere. Here are a few things that make the Cavalier Marching Band special:
Unique Shows for Every Game
That’s right, the CMB performs a different 8-10 minute show at every home football game, with different music, different drill and different visuals. This creates a fun environment for performers and football game attendants alike - there is always something new to learn and see. No one gets bored playing the same music for three months, and there’s a show for every taste. We also perform a pre-game show at each game with traditional school songs to fire up the crowd before the game.
This has become something of a motto for the CMB in the last few years, referring to the approximately 320 members. As we like to say, marching band isn’t like many other activities; if anyone sits out, the entire team is affected. As a result, we have an “all in” mentality while at band - we are focused and motivated, and come prepared to work hard.
While we have an “all in” mentality, sometimes that can sound stressful. However, we also like to describe our culture as having a “relaxed intensity”. Yes, we want to be focused, but we also have a lot of fun doing what we do, and we have a lot of fun with each other, both on and off the field.
We truly consider each other family, and for many members of the Cavalier Marching Band, the best friends they make in their entire college career, they met on the first day of their first band camp. It is extremely common for band members to live together, to take classes together and to even join other extra-curricular activities together.
Reliance on Student Leadership
Student leadership is one of the central tenets of our band and our University. We have over 190 student leaders: Section Leaders and Drill Instructors are responsible for teaching their sections music and drill, and the student support staff runs the logistics of the CMB – everything from uniform maintenance, gameday setup, attendance, librarians, equipment, the website, the end-of-season banquet, historians, and the band office. In addition, student drum majors lead the whole band, both on and off the field. Students really take ownership of the band and make sure that the whole organization runs smoothly.
The Mission of the CMB
We, the members of the Cavalier Marching Band (CMB), are passionately dedicated to performing at our highest potential, leading through service, creating an inclusive and diverse community, fostering the spirit of the University of Virginia, and cultivating our CMB family.