For the first time ever, the Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band will use iPads to help students learn their drills, build their confidence as musicians and put on a halftime show that they hope will entertain and inspire Sooner spectators.
Starting this summer, each member of the Pride will be equipped with an iPad that compiles their drill charts, sheet music and recordings of the full band all in one place. Students can also use the devices and its video capability to assess their musical and marching performance at band practice and in their free time.
Brian Britt, director of Athletic Bands, considers this a turning point for the Pride, saying the technology will advance the way the band members learn.
“It’s a huge game-changer for us,” Britt said. “Given that you still have the same amount of time to invest, how can you make that more meaningful and productive? This blows the roof off of that.”
The technology will significantly shorten the time it takes to learn the drills, music and marching techniques. It would previously take the Pride 30 minutes to learn five new pages of drills. Britt estimates the Pride could learn double that amount in the same time frame — and learn them at a much higher level of confidence and execution — using iPads.
“My idea is that initially we learn how to utilize the technology with what we’re doing, and as we master that, then I think the sky is the limit in terms of creativity and intricacy,” he said.
OU President David L. Boren said the Pride’s iPad program will revolutionize the way OU students learn, practice and perform on and off the field.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for one of our most-revered spirit organizations,” Boren said. “We believe this technology will bolster the great talent they already have and propel them even further.”
What makes the Pride’s move to iPads unique is that the band members represent not just one major but more than 80. Because of that, Brian Wolfe, assistant director of Athletic Bands, expects to see positive effects across campus.
“Pride members represent almost every major on campus,” Wolfe said. “There are one to two students in every single department or college who will have this, and it will hopefully spark the interest of their professors to say, ‘Hey, why can’t we do this, too?’”
Not only will the devices benefit the Pride members, OU also will save money on printing costs. With 300 students requiring 25 pages of drills for each of the Pride’s six shows, and a pregame show at 45 pages, Britt figures the university will save 65,000 pages annually.
Britt believes the iPads also will alleviate a lot of the students’ stress when it comes to learning a new drill. That stress seems manageable as students enter the school year, but tends to build as they feel the pressure from exams and other academic commitments, he noted. The iPads, Britt said, could help the students stay organized, not only for their band events, but in other areas of their life. That could lead to retention of band members from year to year.
“If they see band as a part of them coping with college, you’re going to start seeing more juniors and seniors making the choice to invest their time to continue being in the band,” he said.
The students will also be encouraged to use the iPads outside the marching band to study other academic coursework, stay organized and collaborate with classmates online.