I have had the opportunity to perform at many cool places in my musical career. Recently, I was able to play for one of the largest crowds yet when I performed with the Huskie Marching Band during the halftime show at the Bears Sunday. Performing at Soldier Field, which has a capacity of 61,500, according to the Bears’ official website, is an experience I will never forget.
The NIU Drumline was also invited to join the Chicago Bears Drumline to play for fans outside of the stadium prior to kickoff. As a member of the drumline, I had to arrive at the music building Sunday morning before the rest of the marching band to load our own coach bus with drums and depart to Chicago.
When we arrived at Soldier Field, the bus parked near Adler Planetarium, and we had to carry our drums for about a mile. The area where we performed outside the stadium gates was full of eager Bears and Vikings fans. Even though the walk to the stadium was not fun because my bass drum weighs over 30 pounds, it was very much worth the struggle.
The Chicago Bears Drumline started the performance with a high-energy drum cadence that made many fans gather around to form a large crowd. After they performed, it was our turn to play our cadence, which is what we play when the Huskie Marching Band marches onto the field for NIU football games. It was a little intimidating to perform alongside such a talented group, but we were still very excited to get a chance to show them our skills. To conclude the performance, both of our drumlines joined together to play a jam we both learned for the occasion.
All of the members of the Bears Drumline were very friendly, and there were many familiar faces. Most of the members are NIU Drumline alumni, and some of them are instructors who come to teach us during the season. Maybe one day I will be able to audition for the Bears Drumline and play with my fellow NIU Drumline members.
After we finished the pre-game performance, we were brought to an auxiliary locker room inside the stadium where we waited until halftime. While we did not get to actually watch the football game in person, it was still pretty cool to watch the game on the TVs in a fancy locker room inside of Soldier Field. The locker room had dozens of locker spaces with comfortable seats where we were able to store our belongings. It was also next to the dressing room of the Bears mascot, Staley.
Once it got closer to the end of the second quarter of the game, members of the marching band started to get excited. We had to get in line at one of the many tunnels that lead onto the field and wait until it was our time to run on. We were only given 60 seconds to set up our show, so I had to run fast with my bass drum.
Stepping onto the field was exhilarating. Looking up to see thousands of people and giant screens was very intimidating, but also surreal. I had the most fun yet during this run-through of our show, and everything went smoothly despite the large amount of noise coming from the fans in the stadium.
As we walked back to the buses to get ready to return to DeKalb, I thought about how lucky I was to be part of the Huskie Marching Band and the opportunities it provides me with. Before this, I had never even been to Soldier Field, and now I can say that I have marched all over the actual field itself. I will never forget the time I got to play at a Chicago Bears game.