Marchers in the Pride of Mid-America Marching Band (POMA) might not have to provide their own instruments for much longer.

Conn-Selmer, a manufacturer of student and professional musical instruments, is allowing POMA to update their percussion equipment, brass instruments and piccolos at no cost to students and at a discounted rate to the university, said School of Music director Ryan Hourigan. The driving force behind the partnership, Hourigan said, is to begin the process of phasing out aging drums and horns.

“You kinda feel like you’re always playing whack-a-mole in a sense that, like, you replace one set of equipment, but then this one’s, ya know, aging,” Hourigan said. "It felt like we were never catching up."

Cameron Prill, a senior computer technology and music composition major, is one of three POMA drum majors and he said he remembered unwrapping the new instruments for the first time from their packaging during band camp this summer.

“It’s like Christmas,” Prill said.

The marching band lacked uniformity before because students had to use their own instruments, Hourigan said.

“One of the things we wanted to do that other big-time university marching bands [do], is we wanted them to look the same,” Hourigan said. “It makes us look collegiate, whereas before, it looked a little high school.”

Conn-Selmer President and CEO John Stoner and Managing Director of Educational Services Mike Kamphius spearheaded the partnership with POMA. The partnership, fostered through Hourigan and Robert Kvam, dean of the College of Fine Arts, will help music students form a connection with Conn-Selmer.

“Our largest program in the School of Music is music education, so we want our music education graduates to know Conn-Selmer and to know that their products are great and to use them in the public schools,” Hourigan said. "So we thought it would be a win-win for both the Conn-Selmer company and Ball State."

While the new percussion equipment adds to the uniformity of POMA, it also helps improve the overall sound of the performance, said junior music education major and drumline captain Mike Kehoe.

“The thing with marching band is, it’s about uniformity. It’s about being one cohesive group, so part of that is the look. A very large part of that is the look,” Kehoe said. “Another part is the sound, and with the drums, I think we’re able to get both.”

Instead of struggling with old instruments, Kehoe said the new percussion equipment allows students to create a better sound more easily during practices and performances. 

“You don’t have to constantly be fighting against your drum to get a good sound out of it, to get it to just stay there, to not fall apart,” Kehoe said.

Although the program has provided POMA with many new instruments, woodwind instruments were not a part of the budget.

“We did not get saxophones and clarinets just for the sake of finances. I mean, we got a certain number, so to completely outfit the marching band with those, that would have been hard,” Hourigan said. “That might be what we do in the future, when this lease runs out in four more years, maybe we look at clarinets and saxophones.”

Echoing Hourigan, Prill acknowledged that the decision on instruments was strictly based off of available funding; however, he said he hopes to see uniformity throughout POMA’s instruments in the future.

“[Woodwind players] know it was a decision made because the funding wasn’t there for everything at once,” Prill said. “I know a lot of clarinet players have separate instruments for what they do in the concert cycle versus what they do on the marching field.”