And now ladies and gentlemen, Louisiana State University proudly presents the Golden Band from Tiger Land!
This is the que for the 325 members of the LSU Marching Band to process out to the football field in their faultless lines to perform their carefully choreographed half time routine. This is the dream for many but achieved only by a few. For Julia Giacona (‘17), the path to LSU Band began when she first picked up a trumpet in fourth grade and was mentored in the Dominican Band.
Giacona’s passion for music and her Dominican Band background produced the perfect melody for her to earn a spot in the LSU Marching Band, but it took much hard work to get there. “I couldn’t be where I am today without Ms. Castillo and Dominican’s Band,” Giacona said. “By being in Dominican’s band, I was able to learn how to play trumpet, read music and march.”
With the guidance of Ms. Brenda Castillo, band director, Julia practiced tirelessly for her LSU Band audition. Ms. Castillo teaches her students “that if you work hard and smart you can do it.” Both Giacona and her mother, Dominican science teacher Mrs. Crissy Giacona, cite Ms. Castillo as having a “huge impact” on Giacona’s success.
This past summer, Giacona began the process of trying out to join the LSU Marching Band. The tryout consisted of an initial audition and then attending Tiger Band Camp. All of Giacona’s hard work finally paid off when she saw her name on the final list on the last day of LSU Band Camp. “I was proud of myself for accomplishing my goal.” said Giacona. “It wasn’t easy. I understood this was a college marching band and that not everyone who tried out would make it.
“So, when I heard that I had made the cut, I was ecstatic,” she added.
Making the team was just the first step in Giacona’s LSU Band experience. From that time on, the tempo picked up because she had her first practice within thirty minutes of finding out she had made the cut!
For the band, game day does not just start when the game does; it starts early in the morning. The Golden Band from Tigerland starts the day at the indoor football facility to rehearse pregame and halftime one last time. From there, per the LSU Game Day tradition, the band marches down Victory Hill to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and then to the stadium. Although Giacona thinks halftime is “amazing,” her favorite part of game days is pregame. “When we do the stadium salute, the crowd’s cheering echoes throughout the stadium, and it is an electrifying and incredible feeling,” Giacona said.
As if one Dominican Band alum in LSU Band was not great enough, there are two. Mallory DeLanzac (‘15) is also a member of the band. Upon hearing Giacona was planning to try out for band, DeLanzac became Giacona’s biggest cheerleader. This included introducing Giacona to the band director and teaching her the five basic marching steps. “Mallory taught me fundamentals for LSU’s marching,” said Giacona. “She also informed me about what I had to work on for the audition and was an amazing supporter.”
Ms. Castillo, Giacona’s and DeLanzac’s mentor, describes her former students as “persistent, determined and courageous.” In fact, Ms. Castillo gets emotional as she reflects on their accomplishments. “When they play, it gets to you,” said Ms. Castillo. “It’s very touching and rewarding.”
- Paige Dawson