Pitt band seniors recall favorite memories from four years of performing


Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

Pitt Band marches on the field during the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, in early December.

By Will McGlynn, Staff Writer

Win or lose, rain or shine, the Pitt band comes ready to play and entertain the crowd — putting in hours of practice a week to come prepared for every gameday.

Band seniors might be coming to the end of their performing days as college students, but many of them aren’t ready to forget their experiences.

This past year was the first full season of normal football and school since fall 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After such a long hiatus, this season has provided opportunities for seniors in the band to make some final memories.

Joseph Stanton, senior snare drummer and drumline captain, is ready to graduate this spring after four years of playing on the snare line. Stanton recalled one of his favorite performing memories was when he ran out of the northern tunnel at Heinz Field and onto the turf before Pitt beat Clemson at home this past football season.

“This felt like the perfect culmination of four years with the Pitt band and was the ‘symbolic’ close of 18 months without it due to COVID-19,” Stanton said.

Stanton also recalled having great non-performing moments with the band, like when Pitt beat North Carolina in the rain in overtime on Nov. 12, 2021. Although they were performing for most of the game, that’s not what stuck with Stanton.

“Probably [my] favorite memory overall, was standing in the rain following the incredible overtime win over UNC this season, singing the Alma Mater,” Stanton said. “We were soaking wet, completely hoarse and utterly exhausted, but it was absolutely magical, and the first time it really hit me that my four years were coming to a close.”

Stanton said he enjoyed how close the band made him feel to the school. Stanton and many of his fellow band members are passionate about Pitt and their music.

Senior piccolo player Kayleigh Matthews said she couldn’t choose just one favorite memory while a member of the Pitt band. She pointed to her fellow band members as the best part of her experience with the organization.

“My greatest moments have truly blended together over the years, but I would say the culmination of meeting some of my best friends, my current roommates and my partner have been the highlights,” Matthews said.

Many members had similar feelings and said the people were what made Pitt band what it was. The band includes several fraternities, which offer ways for band members to connect outside of practices and performances. Senior tenor saxophone player Josh Young remarked on how close the band and his band fraternity made him feel to the rest of the school.

“One of my favorite parts of the band has always been the camaraderie involved in cheering on Pitt athletics,” Young said.

Young recalled one such instance when his fraternity was watching the Pitt football team play Virginia in 2018 and won 23-13 to take the lead in the ACC coastal division standings. 

“The whole house went nuts … we were singing the fight songs all night long,” Young said. “One of my favorite parts of [the] band has always been the camaraderie involved in cheering on Pitt athletics, and this was one of the best moments of that camaraderie that I’ve felt at Pitt.”

Stanton said practicing and preparing with his teammates was always one of the highlights of his days.

“Rehearsal was something I looked forward to just about every day,” Stanton said. “Band is where I have my closest friends and probably the activity I enjoyed the most.”

Even though they might go their separate ways after graduation, Young said he was not done as a Pitt fan and as a musician.

“I will certainly come back and cheer on the band with my fellow band alumni after I graduate,” Young said. “I also hope to continue playing saxophone at church with the worship team, and hopefully, I will be able to join some community bands in the Pittsburgh area.”

Matthews is also looking to continue practicing music after college.

“I plan to be active in a local community orchestra following graduation, as well as volunteering at a high school marching band program,” Matthews said. “After doing marching band for eight years in high school and college, it’s impossible to just never think about it again. I’m sure you will see me back at football games in the future, cheering on both the team and the band.”

This year’s seniors got to cap their tenure with games that featured big crowds, and front-row seats to the best Pitt football season in 40 years. Although the students are done performing, many are looking to become a part of the vast band alumni presence and continue to be a Panther.

Next year and for many years to come, I will absolutely be at a few games cheering on the Panthers and several more hopefully on the field for Pitt Alumni Band days,” Stanton said.Pitt band seniors recall favorite memories from four years of performing