Hello, Reddit!

I am a student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and a trumpet player in the "Pride of Minnesota", the University's Marching Band.

Yesterday, the Marching Band had the privilege to perform at the Super Bowl 52 halftime show, alongside Justin Timberlake and several hundred other performers.

Have any questions about the big game? About the preparation process? About whether JT is a good public speaker? (spoiler alert: he's decent)


Proof: https://imgur.com/a/J0rbz

EDIT: Thank you all very much for the interesting questions! I'll be be stopping by periodically as schoolwork allows to answer more.

Comments: 863 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

butter_flies_1989918 karma

How did you feel about the fact that you had to wear full tuxedos while JT wore the forest itself?

RouserCoda469 karma

It was an interesting wardrobe, to be sure. He rocked it though, and I think the jacket made it classy enough to work.

networkedquokka679 karma

Did you show proper reverence to the trombone players, the true lords of the band?

RouserCoda804 karma

We always show proper reverence to the (affectionately named) "Bone Squad".

lawrenceorbach457 karma

  • How much rehearsal went into it? Were you guys outside rehearsing or did you get to be inside at Gibson-Nagurski?
  • Without a bowl game, your last week was end of November, so was this a known gig after the season, or was this put together late?
  • Was there much drill/marching involved, or was it more of a stand here and play, then run over there and play show?
  • Where were you during the rest of the game? Did they get you tickets or were you somewhere in a tunnel during most of it?
  • Did they provide any compensation for your talent, or was this just a perk of being in the marching band (for which, I'm not sure, you may or may not have to pay a credit to the University of Minnesota)

RouserCoda932 karma

  • The last two weeks of January, we had rehearsals at Gibson-Nagurski (we just call it Bierman), including two 8-hour rehearsals each day of the last weekend in January. The week before the Bowl, we had 8-hour rehearsals at US Bank Stadium with the whole cast, mostly just running the show on repeat to iron out all the coordination between the moving stages and all of the field performers.

  • We learned of this at our end-of-season banquet in early December. We had some time over winter break to prepare music, but most of the choreography was in learned in late January.

  • More choreography. For "Suit and Tie", the song we played, we were either marching or dancing in place for the entire song; there was really no parking and barking (standing and playing).

  • We were outside the stadium/in the tunnel during the first half, then went back to campus immediately after halftime.

  • No monetary compensation. This was a fantastic opportunity, and we were really happy to just be there. There are some fees for being in the band, mostly instrument/equipment rental costs.


Were you guys playing at all? I saw no fingers moving and no slides moving during suit and tie

RouserCoda747 karma

No. The acoustics in US Bank Stadium aren't great (we learned that last year at a Vikings halftime where we could barely hear ourselves), and having each of use a mic and dance would've been a pain to organize in the time we had.

That being said, the sound was us. We got an arrangement of Suit and Tie written just for us earlier in January, and recorded it the Monday before the game. That was played over the speakers (with JT doing live vocals) during the performance.

Celery_Stick_Figure64 karma

We were outside the stadium/in the tunnel during the first half, then went back to campus immediately after halftime.

So you didn't even get to watch the game in person? I hope you folks at least got some SB swag or a hot dog or something.

sonderaway82 karma

Common in band performances honestly. I've been in numerous bands over the years and you often feel "used" because you tend to perform just because it's a "great experience". Plus, you end up missing some things you'd love to see lol

My guess is they got some dinner afterwards, but no SB swag.

RouserCoda30 karma

Late lunch before, actually. Besides that, spot-on.

kidbeer80 karma

Superbowl is notorious for fucking musicians by not paying them, so they get volunteers whenever they can.

To be fair, professional marching bands aren't really a thing, so college marching band is best marching band.

Carcharodon_literati10 karma

IIRC there are professional marching bands in Europe that you can hire for events.

RouserCoda12 karma

Really? I'd love to hear more about that; sounds awesome.

sonderaway380 karma


I was in college marching band as well as DCI and watched with a group of band people.. we were all pretty convinced you guys weren't playing (which totally isn't your fault, I know you would have played if you had had the option).

RouserCoda425 karma

Our part was pre-recorded. I made a comment above about the acoustics. It sounded better this way, I think. As much as I would've loved to play live, it was still great knowing that it was our sound being heard by everyone.

Jazzlamp318 karma

I’m a middle school band director; I showed the brief clip of your performance to my students today and they were pretty amazed. We have a small program and the feeder HS has no marching band. Would you or anyone else in your college marching band that was at that Sunday performance be willing to Skype/FaceTime into our rehearsal Wednesday during the day to talk with my students?

RouserCoda383 karma

What time on Wednesday?

If you'd like to organize something more official (we love showing off for younger bands), there's contact information for our band's administration online.

ninjakitty117287 karma

Did the whole marching band perform? Opt in/out? Special tryouts?

RouserCoda445 karma

The whole band performed, but not all together.

The arrangement of "Suit and Tie" that we played was for drums, brass, and saxophones only. Our woodwinds (clarinet and flute players) were on the field with the concert crowd at the beginning, and were part of the "Mirrors" performance as well.

Jacksonteague205 karma

Any rehearsal opportunity with JT?

Littlejth340 karma

Preface: Not OP but also in the band. Hope he doesn't mind me stealing the thunder a bit :P

We rehearsed 3 days with him at the stadium and he showed up to one of our other rehearsals off-site. I personally didn't get to talk to him directly but there were others of us that did. He seems like a cool dude from how he rehearsed.

RouserCoda338 karma

Definitely a cool dude. A little taller than I thought he'd be.

iambestfresh109 karma

Did you get to meet JT? What's he like? What did you guys speak about? (if you can make that known)

RouserCoda191 karma

Yes, but not for very long. He spoke over the PA system to us a couple of times, and briefly talked to some band members (not me, unfortunately :( ) between runs.

He's great! A little taller than I expected. Not an amazing public speaker, but was clearly very happy to have us there. We had a lot of fun working with him.

AudixMusic93 karma

What instrument do you play? Do you have any advice for kids in school learning that instrument?

RouserCoda144 karma

I play trumpet in the marching band.

Practice, stick with it, and have fun! I know it's hard to find the motivation to play sometimes, but the only way to improve is to practice and put in the hours. The best performers, whether it's actors, musicians, or athletes, are the best because they put literally thousands of hours into their skill.

Some days will be hard. You won't want to play, or will feel like you're not improving at all. We all have those days. If you hit a block on something you need to practice, take a break and find things you enjoy playing (personally, I like playing blues scales or TV show themes to mess around). If you can make it through the tough days, and still believe in yourself and your ability to rock on that instrument, you can do anything.

IsItMe2122 karma

Here is a trumpet joke for you: How many trumpet players does it take to change a light bulb?

five. One to actually change it, four to tell everyone how much higher, faster, and louder they could have done it.

I also play trumpet.

RouserCoda93 karma

That's a good one. My personal favorite trumpet joke:

What's the difference between a 1st trumpet and a jet engine? About two decibels

Syjefroi40 karma

Pro here: the hours thing isn't what is important, but the efficiency of the time spent practicing. Try to stick to around 15 minutes per topic, 8 topics per 2-hour block, with at least an hour off before you go in for another chunk. Always play with a metronome. Use a practice journal and document everything. 15 minutes a day of scales is far more efficient than 2 hours a day. Your brain can only take so much repetitive information. Shorter bursts over time works well and also keeps us from just getting bored. For trumpet technique stuff in particular, spend as much time resting as playing.

RouserCoda20 karma

Definitely this. Practice efficiently for best results.

AudixMusic10 karma

Awesome, thanks. I play trumpet too, so that's pretty cool to hear.

RouserCoda12 karma

It's a fun instrument, for sure. Stick with it, and feel free to shoot me a message if you want some music recommendations.

averagejones88 karma

Did you see yourself on TV?

I actually commented to my husband during the performance last night how cool it must have been for those in that marching band to have that experience. I’m a high school band mom of a trumpet player and love it! I hope she gets a once in a life time band experience too!

RouserCoda186 karma

Very briefly, yes! It's exhilarating seeing yourself on the replays afterwards and realizing that yes, you actually just performed at the Super Bowl.

Tell her to keep playing! A lot of college marching bands get to do some incredible shows and have some amazing experiences!

ensignlee76 karma

On a scale of 1-5 (5 being a fuckton), how much do you hate "The Best Damn Band in the Land" from Ohio State?

Also, greetings from a Wisconsin Badger band alumnus!

RouserCoda69 karma

2? I'm a little jealous of the formations and shows they're able to pull off, but that's about it.

MaryK00771 karma

My daughter and I thought the marching band was an awesome addition to JT's show. She is a junior in high school, playing Sousaphone for the marching band. She was impressed with how many you had in your band. Maybe U of M is a possibility? Go, Gophers! Thank you for this AMA, I'll show it to her tonight.

RouserCoda77 karma

Thank you! We're a roughly 320-piece band normally; the band for "Suit and Tie" didn't include our flutes, clarinets, or colour guard. They were in other parts of the show.

The Sousaphones we have here are awesome, and are always looking for more recruits :)

Floppyflams39 karma

Have you ever marched in DCI/DCA?

RouserCoda24 karma

I have not, although I know a number of others in the band who have.

marchesNmaneuvers36 karma

Do you know if the people that are up front for the performer, JT this year, are professional/trained/vetted before they get to be right in front of the camera?

Kind of like the NYE eipisode of Friends, "The One with the Routine".

RouserCoda13 karma

Haven't seen much Friends, so I don't know that episode.

Don't know for sure, but my guess is that they're professional dancers, or at least professionally trained.

Lady_Galadri3l32 karma

Do you know Keegan?

RouserCoda37 karma

Yes! Good guy and good trumpet player.

MrsChickenPam29 karma

What can you tell us about the logistics and coordination of all those moving parts? Getting the stages and performers on and off the field in such a short period of time?

RouserCoda26 karma

It's a lot of work. We worked with a great field staff that coordinated us, dancers, and volunteers moving stages and props around.

We were given headset radios for communication on the field; that helped immensely with getting everyone where they needed to go.

vincent_ignatius28 karma

Are you from Minnesota? If so, were you bitter about the Vikes?

RouserCoda68 karma

Yes, I'm from a Twin Cities suburb. A little bitter, sure, but I was happy to see how far they got this season.

Fingers crossed that the Wild can up their game in the next couple months.

EarningAttorney26 karma

Whats the best section and why is it the French Horns?

RouserCoda38 karma

You mean the mellophones?

LP9925 karma

There's lots of talk now that the crowd was quiet/generally disinterested in Justin. Do you think that was the case?

RouserCoda54 karma

Not at all. We saw at least some people grooving and cheering throughout. The Prince tribute definitely resonated; I think that got the best audience reaction out of the entire show.

Knightified23 karma

How long ago did y’all know you were playing in the super bowl?

RouserCoda29 karma

We were told in mid-December.

CombatC12223 karma

I’m a U of M alum and my wife (girlfriend at the time) was in the marching band. When you found out you were going to be doing this, did you have to keep it under wraps until the actual Super Bowl, and if so, how or did you keep it a secret from friends/family not involved with the band?

RouserCoda29 karma

What did she play?

Yes, we were told not to tell anyone. Some parents were at the announcement, saving us the trouble of hiding it from them.

For the rest, the common excuse was that we were rehearsing for a "donor event" ;)

CheziktheStrong22 karma

I assumed you guys were doing playback. Certainly there didn't seem to be any mics, and at least at the bar where I was at, all the acoustic instruments were totally inaudible. Any commentary on the "realness" of the performance? Perhaps you were actually playing but you were excluded from the mix? (I had this experience on a cruise ship recently)

RouserCoda25 karma

We pre-recorded our arrangement, and JT did live vocals to that.

It certainly felt real. We grooved to the music, and felt the energy of the crowd and of the other professional performers.

RushTMT201021 karma

Do you know a Mark in the bone section?

I'm in the Hawkeye Marching Band (trombone player) and thought you all did a great job yesterday!

RouserCoda18 karma

By association, yes. It's a big band.

Thanks! We had a great time hosting you guys for your away game last year.

TheNachoCheese19 karma

How strong and sexy do you have to be to be a tuba player? Because it looks like you guys set the bar pretty high.

RouserCoda20 karma


sonderaway17 karma

Was your color guard involved at all? You mentioned all of the instrument sections below. I'm assuming the color guard would be in the same numbers as the woodwinds

RouserCoda28 karma

Yes, the colour guard was with the woodwinds in the crowd at the beginning, and with mirrors during "Mirrors" and the finale.

RouserCoda16 karma

Thank you very much for all your questions!

I am a full time student, and have homework and projects to attend to. I'll try to come back at a later time to answer other questions. In the meantime, thank you all for reading, and Go Gophers!

Troggie4211 karma

Is there any behind the scenes on how they set up/tear down/choreograph that whole thing? The entire production fascinated the hell out of me with how much stuff was just going on in general. How much work did you have to do to practice for all that seemingly chaotic stuff going on?

RouserCoda13 karma

The article u/crabappletsteam linked is pretty spot-on.

It's all about organization. The field staff for the Super Bowl were very well organized, and coordinated everyone so that we all knew where we had to be when. No one was confused about where they had to be or what they had to do; we rehearsed the full show enough times that it was basically muscle memory.

The people you don't see performing is the small army of volunteers that moved out the stages and wiring. They're the real heroes here.

kitikitish10 karma

What'd you get for dinner?

RouserCoda13 karma

Sandwiches or salads when we arrived before the game.

mproud8 karma

Did the U of M marching band play in Super Bowl XXVI? Were there any people who played or helped in both that one and this one?

RouserCoda9 karma

Yes, the band was in that halftime. No people playing in both, but we had at least one student whose parents were in that game.

rockybond6 karma

Do you know Duffy? How's he doing?

Oh wait, you mentioned you're a trumpet player. Are you Duffy?

RouserCoda10 karma

Haha no, I'm not Duffy. He's doing well!

anonymous1234216 karma

Were you mic'd or was it pre-recorded?

RouserCoda23 karma

Our part was pre-recorded; JT's vocals were live. That man can sing.

ekcunni5 karma

I don't have a question, but yesterday my friends and I were like 'Oooh, marching band, is it a local one, hopefully?' And then we didn't know, because they either didn't say or we missed it.

Guys! It was a local one!

Edit: Also, maybe it doesn't mean as much because we're band geeks and band geek allies, but we were super bored by the first part of the halftime show and then you guys came out and we were like they should have had the marching band + JT the whole time.

RouserCoda3 karma

A local new station speculated that it might be high school bands the week before...

I hadn't listened to much JT before this show, but I enjoyed the music. Plus, watching him sing and dance was an experience in and of itself.

GodDuckman4 karma

Any truth to the rumor that the Prince projection was originally supposed to be a hologram?

RouserCoda18 karma

Not that I know of. Every dress rehearsal we did, they had the projection on the sheet.

Funnily enough, they initially hid from us that it was a Prince tribute by having no audio and stock photos of a white guy with a microphone projected onto the screen during those bits of rehearsal. It was pretty funny.

Marthcorrin4 karma

How big would a bowl need to be to be considered a super bowl?

RouserCoda14 karma

For reference: r/superbowl

MrToasy4 karma

How much, if any of the performance, was prerecorded?

RouserCoda16 karma

We prerecorded our parts for "Suit and Tie". The marching was live :)

cdnkevin3 karma

  1. What are you studying at university?

  2. What factors contributed to helping you decide that you liked/wanted to do more than play an instrument (band vs. marching band)?

RouserCoda4 karma

  1. Computer Science.

  2. First off, I enjoyed playing trumpet and making music. My high school had a marching band. It wasn't mandatory, and wasn't competitive or anything like that. But I had an older sibling in band, and after seeing how much fun they had, I thought I'd give it a try. Years later, here I am!

mikey_mcbutt3 karma

Is Super Bowl 52 anything like Super Bowl LII?

RouserCoda8 karma

I've heard they're similar. Who knows?

turgid_wang3 karma

Do you feel by pre-recording you could focus more on your dancing ability?

I used to do marching band and hated it. At least the sweltering hot parades and outdoor halftime shows in freezing cold. You're lucky you had such an amazing gig! And indoors!

RouserCoda3 karma

Yes. I think the bigger reason for pre-recording was for sound quality in the stadium, and to allow JT more freedom with the vocals (since he knows exactly how we sound beforehand).

Can you imagine if a Super Bowl in Minnesota was held outside??? Do footballs games happen if it's that cold?

peted18842 karma

Well, I didn't see you because I don't watch any TV. That aside, was it a blast?

RouserCoda3 karma

Yes. Very high-energy, and definitely an experience I'll remember.

The full halftime is on youtube if you're interested :)

HikeTheSky-7 karma

What's the Superbowl and why does it has such importance to Americans?

RouserCoda21 karma

It's the championship game of the National Football League, or NFL. The NFL has teams across the nation, and is one of the more popular sports in America. This game is the pinnacle; the two most talented teams of the year squaring off.

Additionally, the Super Bowl is a spectacle. There's always celebrity performances during pregame and halftime, and events in the host city leading up to the game. This year, an estimated 150 million people watched the game.