Illegitimum non carborundum

Frequently Asked Questions

Want to join the band? Please fill out this interest form!

What do I have to do to join the Band?

Current student? Sign up for an audition here. Auditions are low-key and really just a way for us to get to know you and hear you play. For other concerns or more information, contact us by emailing Ja'Karri Pierre at

If you're an incoming first-year planning to join the Band, we suggest you plan to pack your instrument (if you have one!), and our basic uniform parts: white collared button-down shirt, black pants, black shoes, and black socks. We have specially designed blazers and ties for purchase to complete the Harvard Band look. Don't worry if you don't have your own instrument. The Band owns plenty of instruments and is more than willing to let any of its members use them while they are here.

If you don't play an instrument, you're still welcome to join! New members can learn new instruments or join the prop crew.

What is the audition like?

For Band: scales, sight reading a fight song. For Wind Ensemble: sight reading, short prepared piece. For Jazz Band: sight reading Big Band charts, prepared solo or chart, blues improvisation to recorded rhythm section.

When are auditions?

Most auditions are during the first week of classes, but those who wish to join the Band after that time are welcome to contact us and schedule an audition time. Look for audition sign-up forms on the website under the "Join the Band!" page.

Does the Band take everyone who auditions?

You betcha! To play in the band, you need absolutely no musical experience. Our mission is to provide a place for all musicians, regardless of skill level, to cheer on our Crimson! We have had many bandies who have tried a new instrument (or two!) and have been able to perform our fight songs after working with Section Leaders.

Another way to get involved is to join our Prop Crew. They enjoy all the fun of the Band by supporting its non-musical endeavors, including playing and protecting our enormous bass drum, Bertha.

The Wind Ensemble and the Jazz Bands, however, are more selective and will fill positions based on audition. Time has shown, however, that when slots open up in these groups during the year, new members are more often than not chosen from the Band.

Do you have any majorettes/baton twirlers/color guard?

Not usually, but like we said, we're flexible. 

What if I don’t have my instrument?

We provide alternative parts for instruments such as piano, ukulele, percussion, soda bottles filled with water, and whatever else our bandies have access to. Of course, the Band also has a strong social community, so regardless of whether or not you play along, you can still be a part of the Band!

What does the Band do?


Fall is all about the gridiron for the Band. We traditionally play at all home and conference games. This coming football season we'll play all home and all-except-one away football games. A standard football week includes a one-hour sectional and a two-hour full band rehearsal, as well as two optional (but wicked fun!) meetings to help our ever-talented Drill Master write the field show.

If the game is at home, we meet around 8am, parade through Harvard Square to the practice field, and spend the morning learning the formations of the field show. Around noon we play for the tailgaters and then line up for pregame. We entertain the fans, the team, and (yes) ourselves during the game, and after performing our half-time extravaganza, we head back to the stands for more fun. After the game, we play a quick post-game concert for fans outside the stadium, and then parade up the street back to the John Harvard statue.

For long road trips, we leave Friday afternoon and usually bunk with the other team's band. The rehearsal and game routine are similar to home games, and afterwards, we bus back. 


If hockey isn't already an obsession of yours, it soon will be! There are usually one or two home games each weekend, and while attendance is optional, they are too, too fun to miss. There are bi-weekly sectionals and full band rehearsals throughout the winter season to try out new arrangements and polish our standards. March brings playoffs, often leading to exciting travel: in 1998, the Band went to Stanford for the Women's NCAA Basketball tournament. In both 1999 and 2001, the Band went to Minneapolis for the Women's Hockey Championships. The Band has recently traveled to North Carolina and Connecticut for the Women's NCAA Basketball first round, and Duluth, MN for the Women's Ice Hockey Frozen Four.

And don't forget about caroling! Every year the Band travels into Boston to spread some yuletide glee at Faneuil Hall, Downtown Crossing, and the Shriners' Children's Hospital. It is invariably the best gig of the year!


As the grass in the Yard starts to turn green again, the Band is busy hobnobbing with celebrities and helping out the community. We play at the Cultural Rhythms reception, greeting the likes of Viola Davis, Janet Mock, Matt Damon, Jackie Chan, and Salma Hayek. In May there is the Duckling Day Parade (featuring dozens of cute little children dressed as ducks on Boston Common), and Primal Scream (which you'll hear ALL about when you come to Harvard).

At the end of the year, we play for Commencement Week. The College provides us with housing and food, and in return we play at official ceremonies and reunion events. We have the best seats in the house for the Commencement ceremonies-not to mention a lot of fun!

How much do I have to do with the Band?

The Band is all about being flexible: you do as much as you want. During football season, if you choose to attend a particular game, we ask that you go to the sectional and rehearsal prior to it, because we play new music every week; we also ask that you arrive on time for morning marchdown so that you can learn the field show that morning. During hockey season, there are several rehearsals which are strongly encouraged, but nothing is mandatory.

What can you tell me about the Wind Ensemble? Jazz Bands? 

Links to their respective web pages can be found in the About section of this site. All of these groups fall under the auspices of the Harvard University Bands, and there is crossover in membership between the groups. Such crossover is encouraged, but not required.

What scholarships are available?

The Band does not provide scholarships, and Harvard provides only need-based financial aid. There are, however, prizes, grants and subsidies for music lessons provided by the Office for the Arts.

What do I need to do to get into Harvard?

See the Harvard admissions page. Eat your vegetables. Wash behind your ears. Drink your milk, if you can. Procure the Declaration of Independence. The usual things.

On a serious note, it doesn't hurt to send a tape of your beautiful musical noise along with your application to Harvard. If the admissions decision comes between beautiful-noise-making you and some other kid, you could be the winner of four years at Harvard (and the Band!).

Where can I view the band Code of Conduct?

The code of conduct, updated in Spring 2021, can be found here.

How do I contact the Band?

Contact info for the Band can be found here.

What was Band like during the remote year (2020-2021)?

Even though we may have been spread across the map and throughout vast time zones, we still played music and maintained our Band community. We even kept performing on the Minecraft! Check out our Youtube page where we have posted videos of our Minecraft halftime performances and where you can see the Crimson spirit that went into virtually reconstructing Soldier's Field in amazing detail. These performances would not have been possible without bandie involvement through Show-Writing Meetings, Prop Crew Builds to create fun Minecraft props, and Virtual Rehearsals and Sectionals to learn and practice our music!

Aside from preparing for our virtual shows, we also enjoyed a wide variety of social events (Movies, Game Nights, Jeopardy, Sunday Crosswords, Section Bonding, Virtual Baking, Richard Simmons workouts, etc.) that were planned for bandies to come relax, be together, and have fun!

During an in-person Spring semester, the Band performs once a year on the Crimson hockey rink between periods as well as once a year on the basketball court during halftime. Our Minecraft Maestros were also able to build our hockey rink and basketball arena so we were able to continue on tradition and perform at these events. Stay tuned for the YouTube release of these performances! Additionally, we were also able to perform at our annual Valentine’s Gig (Valengig for short) and virtually serenade couples and friends alike!

We even had virtual rehearsals (and sectionals) over Zoom, and while they looked a bit different from a typical Band rehearsal, we still got to learn music, practice our instruments, and perform together in this digital way. We also recorded and combined audio of ourselves playing for our virtual field shows!

On top of all this, all of the Band’s music is student-arranged, and we had events throughout the semester to help bandies arrange new songs and cheers!