Additional Resources:

Mustang Band performing in the SFO Chinese New Year Parade
Photo by Ian Billings

Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

General Questions

  1. Now that I am in college, will I have time to be band?

    This is a very common question, especially for students who have recently graduated. In high school, most band students will spend one or two hours in band per day in school, multiple days after school in rehearsal, and then competitions and/or concerts on the weekends. Being in band at Cal Poly is not like this at all.

    Most students will say that although academic work in college is sometimes more demanding (especially in the latter years,) the time consumption for activities such as band, clubs, and most general education classes is much less than what they experienced in high school.

    • Fall Quarter
      • Rehearsals: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:10-5:30pm [2 units of academic credit]
      • Approximately 3-5 Saturday Home Football Games (morning rehearsal and actual game)
      • 1 away football game
      • BandFest indoor concert in the Performing Arts Center
    • Winter Quarter
      • Rehearsals: Tuesdays 7:10-9:00pm [1 unit of academic credit]
      • A total of 4-6 Home Volleyball matches across fall and winter quarters
      • A total of 6-8 Home Basketball games across fall and winter quarters
      • The Big West Conference Basketball Tournament (select group of 50 players only)

    In addition to the above, the Mustang Band is invited to perform at Pep Rallies, Fundraisers, and other community events. A "Pep Band" comprised of volunteers from the full Mustang Band typically handles these events.

  2. Do I need to be a Music Major to join the band?

    Absolutely not! In fact, of the 200 or so members in the Mustang Band, there are typically less than 20 students who are majoring in Music. The band is proud of its membership diversity with students participating from every college and almost all departments (majors) on campus. This holds true for all of the performing ensembles within the Music Department.

  3. Is Mustang Band a class?

    Yes. Mustang Band members register for two classes in the Fall Quarter and one class in the Winter Quarter to earn a total of 3 elective units per year.

    First-year students will be blocked into their fall major courses by the Registrar. Mustang Band rehearsal times will be preserved if a student indicated in the New Student Survey an intent to join Mustang Band. Students will be able to add the Mustang Band classes during the Open Enrollment period.

  4. Is Mustang Band the only performance opportunity at Cal Poly?

    No, there are a wide variety of musical opportunities at Cal Poly. Many Mustang Band members actively participate in additional ensembles such as the Wind Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Bands, Choirs, and the Symphony. Visit the Music Department for more information on these and other performance groups.

  5. What instrumentation does the Mustang Band use?

    The Mustang Band currently includes the following instrumentation: drum majors, piccolo, flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trumpet, marching french horn, trombone, baritone, sousaphone, cymbals, snare drum, tenor drums, bass drum, colorguard (flags, rifles, and sabres), and feature twirler(s). We do NOT have logistical space for a "pit" or "front" percussion ensemble (e.g., marimba, timpani, xylophone, etc.) for our normal field or parade performances.

  6. Wait, I play the mellophone... What is a marching French horn?

    The Mustang Band uses marching French horns rather than mellophones to represent the mid voice in the brass section. The marching French horn is a front bell marching version of a (french) horn pitched in Bb. It uses a standard (french) horn mouthpiece and not a cup style mouthpiece (like a trumpet mouthpiece). The players read F Horn sheet music and finger as if playing on the Bb side of a concert double horn. If you're a (French) horn player, you'll find the switch to be relatively easy.

    If you're used to playing a mellophone, we still want you to join the marching French horn section. It will take a little bit of work to adjust to the marching French horn, but we will help you in the process. Mustang Band is often called the "smartest band on the West Coast." We've had many students successfully make the switch.

    If you need additional information, please refer to the Marching French Horn information document and/or the Marching French Horn fingering chart. Otherwise, please do not hesitate to contact the directors if you have questions. (One of our directors is a french horn player who has marched mellophone, marching french horn, and other middle brass in marching bands and drum corps).

  7. I do not own an instrument. Are there instruments for me to use at Cal Poly?

    The Cal Poly band program is proud to maintain a very large inventory of instruments for student use. All are professional model and of the highest quality.

    The fee for renting an instrument is only $20 per quarter.

  8. Does the Mustang Band travel to away games?

    During the fall quarter the full Mustang Band may travel to one away game, typically within California. For this trip, the Mustang Band covers all costs including hotel rooms, travel by professional coaches, and a per diem for meals.

    During the winter quarter, a select group of students from the Mustang Band will travel to the Big West Conference Basketball Tournament. A select group will also travel to the NCAA tournament as needed.

  9. How much does it cost to be in Mustang Band?

    A typical season's cost (excluding costs associated with being a student and registering for the Mustang Band class) would be:

    • Shoes [varies] (Please see the question regarding shoes, found below, for more information)
    • Music Use Fee (for State Instruments) [$20/quarter]
    • Some meals during Band Camp (first year only) [varies]
    • Mustang Band Orientation (first year only) [varies]

    Mustang Band covers just about everything else (including all required travel) and does not require any sort of "special fee" for participating.

  10. What kind of shoes do I need for the marching season (fall quarter)?

    All Mustang Band members participating in the fall season will need to provide their own performance shoes. Please visit our Marching Shoes Ordering Information page for more information.

  11. Do you have a comprehensive Band Handbook?

    Yes, we have a comprehensive band handbook and would encourage you to go through it at your leisure. You will find a link to the Band Handbook at the top of each page here on the Mustang Band site. You can also access it via this link.


  1. Do I have to audition for the Mustang Band?

    Admission into the Cal Poly Mustang Band is determined by audition. Auditions may be submitted online or performed on-campus on specific dates in July. All students with experience performing in a marching band, regardless of major, are encouraged to submit and/or schedule an audition.

    It is common for new students to be nervous about their first audition. However, Cal Poly has a long tradition of serving performers from all musical backgrounds. There are members of the Mustang Band with a wide range of ability and experience levels, including many that never performed an audition until their first quarter as a university student. The directors strive to accommodate all students and work hard to make sure that the Mustang Band audition process is relaxed and comfortable.

    For more detailed information please visit the Mustang Band Auditions Page.

  2. Do I need to have prior band or marching experience?

    Mustang Band is an ensemble that begins performing at the very start of the fall and winter quarters. While Band Camp is a thorough experience intended to bring experienced instrumentalists and auxiliaries up to the task of performing as part of a highly-visible University ensemble, it is well beyond its scope to train performers on a new instrument. Those with field marching experience should have little difficulty acclimating to the style of marching Mustang Band uses. Those with superlative performance ability but no marching skill may be provisionally accepted until a marching assessment is passed.

Band Camp

  1. When is Band Camp?

    New Mustang Members, regardless of experience, should plan to arrive on the first day listed on the calendar below. (More information on how early move-in, housing, and meals work during band camp is included later in this FAQ and on the Band Camp information page.)

    2024 Band Camp information will be posted soon, but in the meantime please see last season's calendar as a reference.

    September 2023

    Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
    San Diego

    Volunteer Pep Band
    Returners and Alumni Only
    Leadership Move In
    Leadership Camp
    Leadership Camp
    New Members Move In
    Returners Move In
    Full Band Camp
    Full Band Camp
    Game Day Rehearsal
    Football vs Lincoln
    Full Band Camp
    Full Band Camp
    Full Band Camp
    Full Band Camp
    1st Day of Classes
    Regular Rehearsal
    2nd Day of Classes
    Band Camp Part II
    Band Camp
    Part II
    Band Camp
    Part II
    2nd week of classes
      Regular Rehearsal   Regular Rehearsal  
    Game Day Rehearsal
    UC Davis

    • All members of Mustang Band are expected to attend Band Camp. Please contact the directors if you have any special circumstances that might prevent you from attending any portion of Band Camp.
    • All new students should register for Week of Welcome (WoW) under the "Orientation Events" tab on the MyCalPoly Portal. Once the Mustang Marching Band roster is announced in August, those incoming students on the roster will be assigned by Orientation to groups with other band members. These groups will be led by Mustang Band Orientation leaders and will follow an adjusted schedule to allow participation in Mustang Marching Band.
    • Early Move In information can be found here.
    • Details regarding registering for Early Move In will be sent to all Mustang Band members via email.

  2. How does Band Camp coexist with WoW, Housing Orientation, and Academic Day?

    All new students should register for Week of Welcome (WoW) under the "Orientation Events" tab on the MyCalPoly Portal. Once the Mustang Marching Band roster is announced in August, those incoming students on the roster will be assigned by Orientation to groups with other band members. These groups will be led by Mustang Band Orientation leaders and will follow an adjusted schedule to allow participation in Mustang Marching Band.

    Housing Orientation (aka “Launch”) takes place on the first Monday of Band camp, in the evening. There will be no Band Camp activities during this time and all new students will be able to attend Housing Orientation.

    Each academic department on campus will be holding their “Academic Day” on the first Wednesday of Band Camp, in the morning. There will be no Band Camp activities during this time and all new students will be able to attend their individual department's “Academic Day”.

  3. How does housing work during Band Camp?

    If you are living on campus (e.g., dorms/apartments through University Housing), Mustang Band has a special agreement with University Housing to allow you to move in early on the first day of New Students Band Camp at no additional cost to you. “Early Move In” (as notated on the Band Camp calendar) typically starts at 9:00AM with new students checking in at their assigned University Housing.

    Mustang Band covers the cost of the extra nights in your dorms until your regular contract begins on the Monday of “Launch”. However, your name will need to be placed on a special list, so please be sure to select “I am living on campus” on our On-Line Interest Form. Please note that this agreement only allows for New Students to move in early, and has nothing to do with your dorm selection/assignment.

    If you are not living on campus and your fall quarter housing arrangements do not begin until after Band Camp starts, please be sure to indicate that you require housing when you complete our On-Line Interest Form.

  4. How are meals handled during Band Camp?

    If you are living on campus, your University Dining Meal Plan begins at DINNER on the Regular Move-In day. This is typically a couple of days into New Students Band Camp. Mustang Band will provide Breakfast at New Students Band Camp. Students will be required to pay for all other meals, but are typically part of a group lunch or group dinner outing.

  5. How much does Band Camp cost?

    Other than some meals, there is no cost for Band Camp.

    There may be a small amount of money required for Mustang Band Orientation. More information on this topic will be sent via email in the weeks prior to Band Camp.

Week of Welcome (WoW) and SLO Days

  1. What is WoW? Should I register for WoW?

    WoW is an acronym for "Week of Welcome" and refers to the week-long fall orientation program here at Cal Poly.

    All new students should register for Week of Welcome (WoW) under the "Orientation Events" tab on the MyCalPoly Portal. Once the Mustang Marching Band roster is announced in August, those incoming students on the roster will be assigned by Orientation to groups with other band members. These groups will be led by Mustang Band Orientation leaders and will follow an adjusted schedule to allow participation in Mustang Marching Band.

    We work very closely with Student Life and Leadership (as well as the WoW staff) to integrate most elements of WoW (including many of the WoW activities and workshops) into our own Mustang Band Orientation Program, which is included in our Band Camp schedule. All of our Mustang Band Orientation leaders receive the same training as the regular WoW leadership and they work very hard to give new students the "WoW experience" while at the same time providing an introduction to the exciting world of Mustang Band.

  2. What is SLO Days? Should I register for SLO Days?

    SLO Days is the summer orientation program sponsored by Student Life and Leadership. Their summer schedule (for in-state students) does not conflict with any Band Camp dates and we encourage all new members to attend one of their summer sessions.

    The official SLO Days schedule for out-of-state and international students do conflict with Band Camp. We can work with students who want to attend those SLO Days events on an individual basis. However, we highly recommend that out of state and international students, as much as possible, attend earlier summer SLO Days sessions to alleviate conflicts with Band Camp.

Back to top

Upcoming Events

Mustang Band Calendar

Student Spotlight

Alexi Ringler
Alexi Ringler
Computer Science

Would you like to know more?

All prospective and current Cal Poly students interested in joining the Mustang Band should fill out our Online Interest Form.

We enjoy meeting new students and encourage you to send an email if you have any questions or plan to visit campus. Contact information for directors and all band faculty and staff can be found on our contacts page.