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Baker achieves childhood goal of playing in PSU’s prestigious Blue Band

Editor’s notes – Hometown Sports Editor Kenny Varner recently caught up with Former Mifflin County Husky and current Penn State Blue Band member Katie Baker.

Baker recently achieved a life-long dream of being a member of the prestigious Penn State Blue Band. We talked about her experience as a Nittany Lion, her time with the Huskies marching band and her future.

HS: How did it feel when you found out you were selected to play for the Blue Band?

KB: At the end of the second day of auditions, around 10:00 PM, they have everyone out on the field and begin to read names. They go by last name for each section, and in no specific order, so when I heard them say “Baker”, I definitely couldn’t believe it. But they had, in fact, read my name, and I had such a feeling of accomplishment and relief. It truly was a dream come true to hear my name called.

HS: How often do you practice weekly to lead up to your performance?

KB: We practice Mo-We-Fr 4:00-5:45 PM, and Tuesdays from 7:00-10:00 PM. We also rehearse on game days before we make our way to the stadium.

HS: How big is the band you’re with now (approximately)? How many were in the MC band?

KB: The band has a little over 300 members, all of whom march on the field. In the MC band, there are roughly 80 total members. This was a bit of a shock on the first day of band camp when I realized that the trumpet section of the Blue Band was almost as large as my high school marching band in total. 

HS:,How different is it from being with the Mifflin County Husky band?

KB: The Blue Band obviously functions at a higher caliber of difficulty than the Husky band, but that is expected of a college marching band because it is comprised of people who (usually) already have marching experience. Each week, we do a different halftime show, which leaves us four rehearsals to learn new drill and music. We also march a pregame show, including the famous Floating Lions drill. The most exciting difference is how incredible pregame is. The drill is a tradition, and it’s great to be a part of such a well known and well liked band that has these incredible traditions. 

HS:What musical instrument do you play?

KB: I play the alto saxophone.

HS: When did you start playing a musical instrument?

KB: I started playing in fourth grade, but I didn’t really get into music until sixth grade, which is when I picked up the saxophone.

HS: How did it feel to step on the Beaver Stadium field for the first time?

KB: I always dreamed of stepping out of that tunnel and hearing the roar of one hundred thousand Penn State fans, and I was not disappointed. It was the most exhilarating feeling, and that was when I finally realized that I had achieved my goal. I am in the Penn State Marching Blue Band. In high school, not everyone respects the band, which is unfortunate. Lately, Mifflin County has gotten so much support, which is great to see and I hope that support continues to grow. But here at Penn State, everyone loves the band. The minute you step out, the crowd seems to roar just a little louder and you know it’s for you. 

HS: What age did you focus your goals to make the Blue Band a reality?

KB: I began to focus my goals around ninth grade. I had been in high school marching band for a year, and I was becoming a big Blue Band fan. It was around that time that I started to take marching band very seriously and focused on growing my abilities so that someday, I would be ready for the audition.

HS: What age did you dream of being in the Blue Band?

KB: When I joined marching band in eighth grade, I knew right then that someday I wanted to take it to the next level an be a part of the best band in the country (in my biased opinion). Every year of school, I got more and more excited about the Blue Band. 

HS: What are you majoring in college?

KB: I am majoring in Music Education and my primary instrument is saxophone. 

HS: What advice would you give to younger musicians that are just starting out learning basic techniques?  

KB: There is so much advice I could give, but I guess the biggest piece of advice is to never sell yourself short. You may not think you can do it, or you may have doubts, but if you work hard enough and keep a positive attitude about it, you can achieve your goals. I had many letdowns in my music career, but I learned how to make the best of them and progress so that I would be better the next time, so don’t let the setbacks hold you back. 

Set goals, small and large. No dream is too big if you set your mind to it and work hard. 

Music is an amazing thing, and I encourage young kids to get involved in school music activities, especially marching band, because someday they’ll look back on the great times they had, the friends they made, and the life lessons they learned. 

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