Finding a spot in the high school band is one thing.
Earning a spot in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Marching Band is another thing altogether. But a 2012 graduate of Mauston High School and UW-Madison freshman has done just that.
Shawn Laursen was accepted into the band after competition in August and last Sunday was with the band when it played at the Green Bay Packers game at Lambeau Field.
“I went down to school a week early to audition and try out along with about 150 other students, of which 100 were accepted,” Laursen said. “The first week we practiced about four hours a day. There was a lot of physical conditioning, and we were taught their marching style.”
Laursen, who plays the trombone, said no high school marching band could have ever prepared him for the physically demanding, precision performances of the UW band, which has 320 members. On Badger game days they practice around 7 a.m., march to the student union and then move on to Camp Randall Stadium for the pregame, game, halftime and fifth quarter performances.
The band also plays a part in many other school athletic events, bowl games and, upon request, at paid appearances in parades and other venues.
Laursen, who is majoring in biology and chemistry, said band members continue to practice two hours a day during the week.
The band got a workout at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
“We didn’t have seats to sit in, but we played in the pregame, during half time and the fifth quarter,” Laursen said. “During the second half of the game we played in the box seating section and around the stadium in small groups.”
Laursen played the bassoon and trombone in the Mauston High School Band, Jazz Band and Pep Band. He was a band student in the School District of Mauston starting in the sixth grade. His parents, Jennifer and Peter Laursen, live in Mauston.
“We were very surprised he got in the band,” said Jennifer Laursen. “The week of practice and tryouts in August was an intense process.”
Jennifer Laursen said her son and others who auditioned for the band played at the Badgers football game Sept. 1. “On Sept. 2, the people were selected to play in the band,” she said.
Shawn Laursen said he will be eligible to participate in the band for the duration of his time at UW-Madison. As for the freshman’s challenge to balance coursework and performances, he isn’t worried.
“Band students normally have higher grade-point averages, and I like to be busy,” Shawn Laursen said.
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