The Wedding Band

It was a heated discussion. Point, counterpoint. Gauntlets thrown down. At issue? Cyndi Lauper’s 1986 ballad “True Colors.” Was it just depressing or a heartfelt ode to the tenacity of love? Welcome to associate professor Mike Titlebaum’s Wedding Band class in the School of Music.

The class was offered for the first time during the fall semester of 2015, and it filled up in a flash. Nine undergraduate musicians signed on, their instruments ranging from voice to trumpet to guitar to violin to drums. Titlebaum’s impetus for creating Wedding Band was twofold: to continue students’ high-caliber scholarly development and to show them yet another way to make a career in music.

“To what extent is music a craft and to what extent is it an art?” Titlebaum asked. “I think it can be both.”

And the first iteration of Wedding Band delivered on both counts. Students were given songs to research, arrange, and transpose. Once they created the sheet music for each piece, the class chewed it over, and then rehearsed it with Titlebaum at the piano. He helped parse each song’s structure and pin down some of the more elusive chords and keys.

If you’re wondering where the playlist came from, look no further than Rich Anderson and Brad Marzolf. This is where the rubber really met the road for the students in Wedding Band. Their destination was neither Ford nor Hockett hall but Lake Watch Inn in Lansing, New York. On October 10, the students performed at Anderson and Marzolf’s wedding. And it was part of their grade. Marzolf gave the students an A+.

It was exactly what we wanted,” he said. “And the students were so enthusiastic. The vibe we got from them was amazing.”

Titlebaum structured the class with this practical, live-performance component in mind. Throughout the semester, the students collaborated with the couple to create a program. Anderson and Marzolf’s feedback of the performance was even factored into the students’ grades.

Music education major Ray Fuller ’17 played trumpet and piano. It was his first time performing as a part of a wedding band, and he doesn’t think it’ll be his last. When asked what the appeal was, his answer came fast: “Making people dance and making people happy.”