By Emily Chen; Photo by Tyler Baldassone
In 2016, the Marching Illini (MI) made a complete 180 turn regarding environmental sustainability. What once was an organization where paper was invaluable is now a completely digitalized, efficient system. Known as “The Nation’s Premier College Marching Band”, the MI was founded in 1867 and has been performing not only at UIUC’s home games, but as well as across the nation. They’ve represented UIUC at the Macy’s Day parade, Disney World, and annually at the Chicago Bears games. In order to play with such excellence, the Marching Illini attends an annual summer band camp that consists of daily twelve hour practices for a week. At previous band camps, all 400 members received a 40 page paper copy of their drill for pregame, an 8 page drill for Three in One (a half time performance), and a 30 page copy of their code of conduct. Not only does this cost the MI thousands of dollars, but all of this paper is disposed of each year. Additionally, band camp practices are outside regardless of the weather. This means, all 400 members replace their drill paper after it rains.
Starting this year, the Marching Illini has been partnering with Tonal Innovation to go completely paperless. Founded in 2014, Tonal Innovation is “bringing the band industry to the 21st century” via adjustable devices that connect music with technology. Specifically, the MI has been using the eFlip, which is an apparatus that mounts the musician’s phone or tablet to their instrument, thus replacing traditional instrument stands. In place of sheet music, the MI has pivoted to using apps such as Dropbox or Drillbook Next. Not only have the musicians transitioned to sustainable practices, but the entire department has gone paperless. This entails digital forms and paperwork.
This mindful environmental transformation is only one example of how the University of Illinois promotes sustainable practices and resources. Students can take pride in knowing that UIUC values the environment and actively seeks ways to move forward technologically and sustainably.