One of my favorite musical acts in Walt Disney World is the Main Street Philharmonic. Being a former marching band member I always stop to watch them when in the Magic Kingdom. Luckily when I took a trip out to Disneyland a few years ago I was treated to an even more exciting marching band, the Disneyland All-American College Band. Don’t get me wrong I love Disney World’s band but Disneyland’s version speaks more to me because it is actually comprised of current college marching band students. The All-American College Band has been a staple of Disneyland since 1971. Many people say the summer doesn’t officially start at Disneyland until the band has their first performance of the season.
Every year hundreds of talented college musicians from around the United States try out for one of the 21 coveted spots which is chosen and directed by Dr. Ron McCurdy. In addition to conducting the Disneyland band, McCurdy is the professor of music at the University of Southern California. Auditions are usually held in several cities across the U.S. but interested students can also send in an audition video. Auditions for the upcoming summer’s group usually take place in February and March. Since the group began in 1971 approximately 2700 students have performed with the band. Interested students should know that this is actually a paid internship with an educational aspect.
The students participate in an 11 week paid internship program where they perform 5 days a week, Tuesday through Saturday. Every day the band does 5 performances throughout Disneyland. Depending on which show you see, you will hear many different styles of music including military, jazz and show band. The band’s different sets will also be in diverse locations throughout the park so make sure to check a times guide for the days scheduled performances.
Unlike many other park performers, they do not get any down time in between shows. For the other three hours a day the students are taking part in music workshops and clinics which are hosted by Yamaha. Many of the classes consist of music theory, performance and conducting. The classes also help to show the students how they can take music performance and make a successful career out of it. Many students who’ve been a part of the All American College band take away much more than a summer of fun, most say the experience was a pivotal point in their young adult lives.
To find out more about the band and the audition process visit the Disney auditions website. If you are ever lucky enough to make it out to Disneyland, make sure to slow down and take time to enjoy a performance or two of the All American College band. Their shows are so energetic and fun they will stay engrained in your Disney memories for years to come!
Contributed by: Shalon Given (NDI#167) Shalon is the DDL Music Blogger.