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Legacy donation keeps band marching on

by Adela Talbot, MA'11 | August 11, 2015

Legacy donation keeps band marching on
Thanks to a gift from Western’s Alumni Association, the Western Mustang Band will keep in fine form with the purchase of new uniforms, equipment cases and replacement plumes for headgear.

Elizabeth Jewlal calls the Western Mustang Band a “hidden treasure” of extracurricular activities on campus.

And now, thanks to Western’s Alumni Association, the school spirit embodied by that group will be able to march on.

The Western Mustang Band, the oldest marching-style group in Canada, offers more than a handful of exciting opportunities to students. Members go to competitions, tour and travel – a lot. They perform at athletic events, from Western Mustangs football games to the Grey Cup, and parades. They’ve been featured in music videos, and even performed at the Much Music Video Awards.

But the group’s financial viability has been difficult to maintain, says Elizabeth, the band’s current president and art history major.

For years, the marching band has, out of necessity, been a self-sustaining body. As a club under the University Students’ Council (USC), the band has no formal rehearsal space and, instead, practices in the foyer of Alumni Hall. Members have had to cover their own equipment and uniform costs, travel costs and gym space rental. The band performs pro bono at athletic events, too.

“We’re one of those under-appreciated groups, who are constantly out there representing the school spirit,” she says. “It’s just a group of students running this thing, constantly overcoming adversity and working together. For me, that’s just been very heartwarming.”

Elizabeth’s spirits were buoyed all the more this year, after sitting on the band’s executive board for five years, when the Alumni Association approved a $26,000 donation to help purchase new uniforms, instrument cases and replacement plumes on headgear.

“The association wished to demonstrate alumni support for the long established marching band,” says Anne Baxter, BA’91, chair of the association’s Alumni Legacy Committee. “We wanted the Western Mustang Band to remain competitive with other university bands during athletic and sporting competitions.

“During my time as Homecoming Committee Chair, I always loved seeing and hearing the Western Mustang Band,” she continues. “They made me ‘purple and proud’.”

The money from Western’s Alumni Association, Elizabeth adds, will help promote the profile of the band that much more.

“Thanks to this donation, we are not only going to be able to sustain the marching band, but we are actually going to elevate it,” she says.

Last spring, the student body approved a USC referendum motion calling for 50 cents of undergraduate student fees to be directed to the band each year. This support, combined with the association’s gift, will provide the marching band with increased financial stability.

“Last year, my mission was to make Western aware of the band, and I think the school heard us. I think the school is going to see how much this type of support will elevate our group,” says Elizabeth, who plays trombone, bass drums and French horn.

“This will give us more opportunities and help us bring Western’s spirit and message when we travel and perform.”

This article appeared in the Summer 2015 edition of Impact Western
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