They are 250 strong, a loud and proud collection of shiny trombones, trumpets and mellophones; whistling woodwinds; crashing cymbals; and 30-plus drums — all played by a storied marching band to whom George Gershwin dedicated a special version of “Strike Up the Band” in 1936, who were invited to perform at the Oscars in 1969 (the theme to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, no less), and whom the Rolling Stones requested as the opening act for their 2013 concert at the Staples Center (where the band blared out a suitably brassy rendition of “Satisfaction”). Each off-season, the gleaming instruments are packed up and hidden away in storage units across campus, reuniting in the basement of Schoenberg Hall every July for inspection, repairs and a good old-fashioned elbow-grease polish. Then comes the return to the field, nestled in the arms of their adroit student musicians, all marching in glorious, precise formation to the beat of the UCLA drum.

Read more from UCLA Magazine’s Fall 2022 issue.