Sandrea Batiste is a junior in the College of Education who plays the sousaphone in Marquette University pepband.
This is her second year being involved with pepband at Marquette.
The pepband sometimes travels with various teams, including to the Big East tournament in New York each year.
Sandrea Batiste - Sousaphone player
Sandrea Batiste, a junior in Marquette University’s College of Education, was born on Nov. 6, 1990. Famed American composer John Philip Sousa was born on the same day in 1854. This coincidence would be meaningless, if Batiste did not play the sousaphone.
The sousaphone was invented by Sousa himself, and is similar to a tuba. Batiste plays the sousaphone for the Marquette University pep band, which plays at all Marquette men’s and women’s basketball home games. They also often travel with teams to away games and tournaments.
Batiste first began playing the sousaphone her freshman year of high school, when her band director suggested she try. Before that, she played a couple different instruments.
“I actually started out playing the flute, and I hated it,” Batiste said. “I think I played it for two weeks and I was like, ‘This sucks.’”
Batiste stayed in band throughout high school and into her time at Marquette because band had been a social outlet for her. She is traveling to Madison Square Garden in New York in March to play at the Big East championship tournament, and traveled to Newark, N.J. last year when the Golden Eagles played in the Sweet Sixteen.
“That was pretty sweet,” Batiste said. She added, “It sucks that they lost, though.”
One factor that has positively impacted her decision to continue in band is the memories she has because of her experiences.
“I think one of my favorite memories, (is) when we had (Marquette Madness) this year,” Batiste said. “A little boy, he came up to me and he was like, ‘Can I please take your picture?’ I was like, ‘Oh, sure!’ and he was like, ‘I’m not being weird, if I take pictures with people in the band, I get extra credit in my band class.’ … We chit-chatted and he played the trombone and it was really cool to just connect through music that way.”
At home, Batiste has a hard time deciding whether she enjoys playing for men’s or women’s games more.
“I kind of like the women’s games better because I’m friends with a lot of the girls on the team, so I think that factors into it, but then it’s like, the atmosphere in the Bradley Center is just so fun to play in, so I like them both,” she said.
Pep band director Erik Janners shares a similar sentiment.
“It’s hard to beat a really big-time men’s Big East game,” Janners said. “Those are awesome, but actually, unless it’s a really good Big East game, I kind of think we have more impact at the women’s games.”
Janners said he likes the impact the pep band has on the atmosphere in the Al McGuire center, because the band makes up a larger proportion of the audience.
“Thirty pep band members screaming their heads off in an arena for 2,000 versus whatever the Bradley Center has,” Janners said. “So, I think we have a lot more impact on the game, but it’s hard to beat a big men’s game. Those are really awesome.”
According to Janners, students who play in the pep band must also be enrolled in either Symphonic Band or Wind Ensemble, which are concert groups and offered as classes for credit through the College of Communication.
“The concert groups are really where our students get better, where they refine their skills,” Janners said. “Pep band is just fun … it’s more about volume … it’s there to entertain the audience and pump up the audience. We have a good time.”
The pep band practices from 3:00 to 4:20 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday — a long time to play, according to Batiste. However, she truly enjoys her time spent in rehearsal and at basketball games.
“If I didn’t do band, I’d be done with class Monday, Wednesday, Friday at one and I’d just bum around and do nothing,” Batiste said. “It’s just a really good stress reliever so it’s not even like it’s a big time commitment, because I enjoy it so much.”
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