This article was originally published in the fall 2015 edition of the Growl. Read the full issue here.

Having grown up in Evanston, Ian Weinberger has always been a huge fan of NUMB. "I grew up going to the pregame concerts in Welsh-Ryan (this was before Wildcat Alley...grumble grumble grumble) and was totally awed by the band," he said. "There's a video somewhere of an NU basketball game broadcast, where I am seen during a timeout, about three years old, 'conducting' the band as they played from across the arena."

Needless to say, by the time he was admitted Northwestern, Ian knew where he wanted to be—and it didn't take long for his infectious enthusiasm to take hold of the entire drumline. "From the first day I met Ian at Drumapalooza, I was amazed by the positive energy he exuded," said then–drumline captain Samir Mayekar '06. "Being a music performance major in NUMB can be a challenge due to competing priorities, but Ian became the heart and soul of the drumline due to his chops, leadership abilities, spirit, and unwavering P&G."

Many others fondly recall his cheerful spirit and the positive energy he brought to the drumline. "Our sophomore year, he was my snare buddy," said cymbals captain Jen O'Leary '09. "He always worked to bring out the best in everyone, foster a strong community within the drumline, and encourage people to make friends outside of the drumline, and he always keep spirits and morale high. He was usually very optimistic, even when things might not have been going so well football-wise."

"Being on drumline with people like him (and Rick Oleszczuk) who had been NU fans since childhood is probably one of the reasons I got so into it myself," said cymbalist Christina Schonberg '11. "Also, Jen O'Leary was his cymbal buddy in the stands at football games and seeing them have so much fun together (especially during Stacy's Mom) made it that much more fun for me!"

Ian didn't march all four years; as much as he loved the drumline and NUMB, he was also committed to developing his chops as a musical director for the stage. After graduation, Ian only waited a year before making the move to New York City—and he found the Northwestern mafia presence alive and well. Upon arrival, he took two fellow Northwestern alums—including NUMBALUM Brad Haak '98—out to coffee. "Musical directors have a weird path because we all have different backgrounds," Ian said. "Some were singers. Some were piano players who were then asked to conduct something. We don't audition very often for jobs, and a lot of [getting gigs] is word of mouth." Through networking, Ian landed two music intern jobs—one Broadway show (Anything Goes) and one off-Broadway (Death Takes a Holiday). The journey had begun.

Slowly, Ian was referred to bigger and better jobs. He got to know a music copyist named Emily Grishman, who began asking him to help out on her music copying workforce—proofreading, finding page turns, and so forth. That connection turned into Ian being the keyboard sub for Kinky Boots, which led to conducting Kinky Boots, which led to subbing for and conducting Book of Mormon, which led to the hottest thing on Broadway right now: Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton. Today, he's "flitting about" between those three shows—and loving life. "I'm lucky to be working on three shows that are all hits," he said. "You get lucky to work on one show that runs for a while. I'm very grateful."

Of course, the résumé credential isn't the only perk. Fellow NUMBALUM Jason Crystal '06 worked on the sound design of Hamilton, and the two routinely exchanged NUMB formalities. "Most conversations between the two of us would end with 'Go 'Cats,' and there was definitely a regular across-the-room (silent) growling, usually in greeting," Jason said. "He's incredibly talented and good natured, so it was always positive to have him in the room."

Ian says he's excited to be a part of the Broadway scene—but he'll never forget his NUMB roots. "I miss marching band all the time. I wear my drumline tracket with pride," he said. So is he going to write a musical based on his time in NUMB? What a ridiculous question! "It's my life's calling to put the marching band on stage."

That's a direct quote.* You read it here first, folks. Go 'Cats!

*In response to an incredibly leading question.

This article was originally published in the spring 2015 edition of the Growl. Read the full issue here.

The start of every band camp, I remember feeling a wealth of nostalgia for having lost the previous graduating class. At the first sectional on the lakefill, while playing for the first time since the Spring Game—er, dutifully warming up even though we didn't need to because we all practiced all summer—we lamented the loss of our favorite seniors as we realized that now, "senior" had a whole new meaning.

Since graduating, every subsequent Homecoming at the Friday night parade I feel a rush of an inverse feeling: limitless glee that a new class joins the alumni ranks and I find myself in the midst of more and more of my favorite people. At no other point in time could I "be in band" with the seniors of my freshman year and the freshmen of my senior year. And while I pay myself on the back for how cool that last sentence turned out, my anticipation grows for Homecoming 2015 where that sentence will manifest itself in reality.

Homecoming 2014 was monumental. The class of 2014 dominated the ranks and we had our best parade instrumentation in years! Though we encountered some last minute chaos in the percussion section (for when do we not?), it was exciting to achieve the required instrumentation well before the registration deadline. Rather than send out pleas for trumpets and sousas to play in the parade, I had the fortune of basking in the building excitement for Homecoming weekend. I looked forward to a bar night of reminiscing and catching up with out-of-towners, a bacon-laden pre-game tailgate in the West Lot thank to Daryl Liquin, and a Gothic-themed football game sitting on a side of the stadium I had never previously experienced. Year to year, what I look forward to most is sharing these moments and memories with friends, old and new.

As I welcome to the NUMBALUMS a class who in my eyes will always be freshmen, I hope you'll join me in the festivities of Homecoming 2015 to fill out the ranks of those generations and show the class of 2015 what being a NUMBALUM is all about.

*As they relate to the NUMBALUMS endowment

This article was originally published in the spring 2015 edition of the Growl. Read the full issue here.

Since the Northwestern University Marching Band was "officially" founded in 1911, it's been clear that the students are the heartbeat of not only the Band but also the university.

That first Band was student-led, with 20 members consisting of "two drums, three clarinets, one alto, one tuba, three trombones, ten cornets." The Daily Northwestern noted on October 26, 1911, that the Band was in "great need of altos." The sophomore and junior classes came to the rescue, each donating $25 to the Band. Later in the season, a charity ball was held for the Band—and the Daily reported, "Considering the patriotic cause for which the affair was given the crowd should have been larger; nevertheless about $75 was cleared, which indeed will form a nucleus for the building up of a good substantial band." (For more on the Daily's coverage of hte Band's first season, check out my article in the fall 2011 Growl).

Man, remember when $125 could get a collegiate marching band going? (We don't.)

More than 100 years later, the Band has grown by leaps and bounds—thanks in no small part to directors Glenn Cliffe Bainum, John P. Paynter, and Mallory Thompson—but it's still in need of altos, as well as trombones, sousas, field equipment, the list goes on. The music school and Athletics have done a fine job of meeting the most critical of the Band's needs—but those needs grow every year.

The NUMBALUMS have been an active supporter of the Band since the club's founding in 1999. In terms of financial support, the club maintains the Benefit NU Bands account, which donors can designate go to the Band department. However, the donations fluctuate year to year and we tend to err on the side of conservative so we can make sure that the students receive our annual commitments, including partial funding of the end-of-the-year banquet and the Band department's website. That means that we can't reliably handle expensive requests for the Band, such as badly needed new sousaphones. At Homecoming in 2013, we had to borrow sousas from a local school to ensure our sousa alums could march. This funding gap reveals a plain truth: NUMB is falling behind other collegiate marching bands that have the funding to purchase not only the necessities but the items that can keep it competitive, from instruments to cutting-edge technology.

A few years ago, our NUMBALUMS president at the time, Samir Mayekar, embarked on a journey to found an endowment for the Band. An endowment is a permanent funding source that helps the Band go further in its efforts than the official budget allows, enabling things from new instruments to scholarships to stipends for graduate student directors. Such a fund is common for major marching bands: USC, Michigan, OSU, and Wisconsin all have or are building endowments.

The endowment project was taken over, in turn, by Andrew Levin—who wrote being endowment chair into the bylaws for the executive vice president/president-elect—and then by me. Immediate Past President Liz Driskell has also played a pivotal role in donor outreach. I admit my efforts have paled in comparison to those of Samir, Andrew, and Liz, but I am a firm believer that we can fund this endowment by our deadline of 2018—set because that year, the minimum for Northwestern endowments will increase from $100,000 to $250,000 (holy deep-fried rearback!). The best part is that the money will start flowing immediately and will not take anything from the principal balance; there will always be $100,000 or more invested, ensuring that NUMB's director can fund projects using interest. It's the right choice for NUMB, and the NUMBALUMS are committed to ensuring we get there.

So far, we've received pledges of $70,000 of the $100,000 we need—but only about $31,000 is cash in the door, with the rest pledged to be donated over the next few years. So the work is far from done.

I would like to take a moment to thank a few people who have truly stepped up to help. The following individuals are part of the John P. Paynter Director's Circle—meaning they've pledged donations of $1,000 or more for five years. These individuals have brought us much of the way, and our gratitude cannot be overstated.

John P. Paynter Director's Circle

Mr. James Andrew Ellzy, II & Mr. Francis O'Malley

Mrs. Emily Meredith Haak & Mr. Samir Shailesh Mayekar

Mrs. Amy Stachnik Rushlow

Mr. Ed C. Senechal

Prof. Raymond C. Schwarzkopf

Mr. David Robert Storch

Mr. William C. Tempelmeyer

Dr. Julie A. Zielinski

Whether or not you can give at the Paynter level, every gift counts. I, along with the NUMBALUMS Board and future generations of NUMB members who will benefit from this fund, greatly appreciate your generosity.

Endowments are simply how the greatest modern marching bands keep the spats shiny and the valves oiled. Help us bring NUMB up to date by visiting

This article was originally published in the spring 2015 edition of the Growl. Read the full issue here.

The Shoppe was originally the brain-child of former board member Duane McDowell who has a passion for the band, a penchant for marketing, and a vision for "Spreading Far the Fame of Our Fair Name." Duane posited that there had to be some way to embrace the joys of being a NUMBALUM, wrap it up in some really kewl regalia and raise some much-needed capital for band programs in the process. His goal: WORLD DOMINATION (in a P&G sort of way).

The NUMBALUMS Board acted upon Duane's ideas and gave birth to hats and T-shirts. Ksjusha Povod's logo design won in a contest, and suddenly we had a line of hoodies, coffee mugs, polo shirts, and NoteCards (get it?).

When I joined the board in 2013, I just asked the question, "Why aren't we doing this online?" and the answer was: No one had that expertise and we weren't sure if the University would allow it. Never tell Cosmic Ray that. Duane and I, along with Liz Driskell, pummeled wait...we simply investigated the options and implemented a plan. Duane and Liz developed a product line (along with input from various board members) and I sourced out the business details and developed an online store, which was hosted through the gargantuan efforts of NUMB webmaster Daniel Reck!

Since then, we've added the custom-framed jackets, capes, boleros, and drum major outfits in the name of our endowment: the Push On Fund. All proceeds from the sale of EVERY item in the Shoppe go into funding for band programs at Northwestern! The board has made every effort to keep our running expenses EXTREMELY low in order to maximize profits for the band. (Those expenses are currently less than 1 percent. Try THAT Kellogg!)

We launched the online NUMBALUMS Shoppe on September 1, 2014, and have had about 130 orders [as of April 2015], raising almost $5,000 for the band. Not bad for an organization that didn't even exist 20 years ago!

We are ALWAYS interested in finding new products that would have wide appeal to our NUMBALUMS family and that would look good with our logo prominently displayed. For instance, Tom McGrath offered his gorgeous posters, and Mark Camphouse brought us the amazing book about John P. Paynter. (We've sold four cases of them so far!) Please send more ideas, questions, or comments directly to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (NOT to the band office, please!)

Interesting factoid: We have NO PHYSICAL SHOPPE! Much like the spirit of the band, the Shoppe only exists because we (the volunteers, board members, directors of bands, Alumni Association, and band staff) all work together in harmony to bring your merchandise safely from our vendors to your mailbox or doorstep. Trust me: IT AIN'T EASY but it IS a labor of love!

Duane, at 77, while no longer a board member, is still an integral, active dynamo on the NUMBALUMS Shoppe team! We are trying to find a few good people in the Glenview/Northbrook area who would be interested in helping out, so we can get Duane to take his lovely wife to visit their grandkids in Florida more often, instead of tracking down orders! Let us know if you are interested in donating a wee bit of time and energy for this most worthwhile cause!

Whether or not you can volunteer, we hope you keep your closet as purple as it can be, with the help of the Shoppe dedicated to your very specific SpiriNeeds.

Visit the NUMBALUMS Shoppe today!

We're excited to welcome all NUMBALUMS back to Homecoming 2014 next weekend! Here you'll find the final schedule as well as answers to common questions. If you have more questions, contact us.


Friday, Oct. 17

4 p.m. Observe NUMB rehearsal

4:30 p.m. Registration and light supper (Pick Rehearsal Room)

4:50 p.m. Parade rehearsal

5:20 p.m. Load instruments, walk to parade start

6:00 p.m. Parade step-off at the corner of Sheridan and Lincoln

6:45 p.m. Pep Rally at Deering Meadow with Coach Fitz and NUMB

9 p.m. Bar night at Prairie Moon

Saturday, Oct. 18

10:30 a.m. Behind-the-scenes tour of NU Archives "NUMB Uniforms Through History" exhibit (Deering Library)

2:00 p.m. Bus runs from campus; registration begins (Trienens Indoor Facility)

2:30 p.m. Rehearsal with NUMB

2:30 p.m. NUMBALUMS tailgate (West Lot)

4:30 p.m. Dinner with NUMB or NUMBALUM tailgate** (your choice)

5:30 p.m. Wildcat Alley performance

6:05 p.m. NUMBALUMS pregame, followed by NUMB pregame

6:30 p.m. Kickoff

After the game: NUMB postgame and Alma Mater on Ryan Field, and post-game tailgate in the West Lot

**The tailgate will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the Ryan Field West Lot. Look for the NUMBALUMS flag!

Sunday, Oct. 19

10:30 a.m. NUMBALUMS Annual Meeting (Alumni Building, 1201 Davis Street)