Under the Knife: Pep Band drums up school spirit

At every home hockey game you'll be sure to see President of Geneseo Pep Band senior Peter Thompson and the rest of the group cheering on the Ice Knights with spirited chants and a variety of poppy tunes.

Alumnus Justin Swackhamer '05 started the Pep Band during the 2003-2004 school year with the purpose of increasing school spirit by providing an entertaining, exciting and positive atmosphere at Ice Knights games.

The band, which started with only six members in its first year, has seen as many as 60 members. In the 2005-2006 school year, the Pep Band received the President's Outstanding Achievement Award for its contribution to the college.

Pep Band currently has over 30 members, the majority of which are not music majors. There are no auditions, so anyone who plays an instrument is open to join. Members play instruments ranging from trumpets, trombones and tubas to flutes, clarinets, drums and guitar.

The group plays from a booklet of 25 to 30 songs, some trendy pop songs and some classic rock, many arranged by current members and alumni.

Thompson is currently working on an arrangement of the pop hit “We Found Love” by Rihanna, but other songs in the group's repertoire include “Final Countdown” by Europe, “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz and the “NFL on Fox” theme song. They add a few new songs each year.

Pep Band usually plays at ice hockey games.

“We've gone to basketball games in the past, but we have to compete with the cheerleaders; we've gone to some outdoor things but those are really hard to bring instruments to and set up,” Thompson said.

Pep Band has to make do with an irregular practice schedule, meeting about once a week whenever they can reserve rink time.

“This has actually been a problem in the past year or two,” Thompson said. “Rink time can be really hard to come by.”

Pep Band also does nonmusical team-building events during the year such as competing in the intramural broomball tournaments, hosting barbecues or going out for pizza after a game.

“It's awesome,” Thompson said. “Everyone is real good friends, very friendly and lots of pep. Whenever I see anybody around I always say hi and they always say hi.”

In promoting pep, the band shouts loudly above the cheering crowds at Ice Knights games, chanting, “Let's go Geneseo! G-E-N-E-S-E-O!"