The Lynden High School Pep Band is more than just a “wall of sound.” It’s a sound that relates to the community, connects with the student section, gets LHS music students jazzed about playing and shows off the excellence of the band’s abilities.
“The pep band is really a cool environment to be a part of here,” says junior percussionist Alex Wazny. “Lynden just has a culture of being the biggest and strongest pep band. It is cool to be a part of that and play a big role.”
Likely the largest pep band in school history, under the direction of Trevor Galligan the band keeps growing. It’s projected to continue.
Pep Band isn’t a class at LHS, but it is a way of life for music students. As part of the music program, the 81 students are required to make a few pep band appearances. Typically, Galligan says, students get the bug and want to be there quite a bit. On any given football or basketball evening, the pep band will number at least 50.
Senior percussionist Julius Colborn calls pep band a nice change of pace from traditional band, a chance to be more energetic and get the crowd going. “We are different than any other band in the state,” he says. “We are the biggest and loudest. At state (basketball in Yakima) they called us a wall of sound.”
Galligan says he’s trying to build a culture of cheer, of support, for the pep band. “It is a vibe I am trying to create at games,” he says. “I’m trying to take away the separation of students, band, parents, team, trying to get rid of all those walls whereas a school unit we are all for our pride and our team. It is all about creating that really cool sense of community.”
Part of that connection is the way Galligan spends countless hours turning modern pop songs into pep band arrangements. “It is one of those things that separates the Lynden Pep Band from other bands,” Galligan says. “You might hear something on the radio you just heard last week. I take the time to do that because I think it is another community thing, it pulls the student section and band together.”
Wazny says Galligan transcribing modern songs into pep band songs plays a key role. “You look at other schools playing ‘80s and ‘90s music and we are up to the times,” he says. “It makes for a better environment for the student section. It is more energetic since they know the songs being blasted by the band.”
Colborn says people come up to him all the time commenting on how cool it is to have modern music.
And while the pep band may still have some classics in their repertoire, with a catalog of roughly 50 songs available on any given night, expect plenty of modernity mixed in. “That is something I feel like is necessary to take the time to do,” Galligan says.
The LHS Pep Band has created some cultural moments that are now traditions at the school. The “Viking Chant” song plays between the third and fourth quarters at all football and basketball games. Galligan credits LHS cheer coach Kellee Wallace with showing him a clip from Iceland to get him planning. Galligan pulled from his own Minnesota roots to put together an arrangement of drums and brass. “It worked so well the first time we did it,” he says, “yeah, this is a thing now.”
Another Minnesota tradition to make its way to Lynden is the band donning hockey-style jerseys, something not uncommon for bands in his home state. Not only does the hockey “sweater” provide a little warmth for football evenings, Galligan says having all 80 students in uniform looks sharp. He adds that many members don’t play a sport at Lynden, so the band jersey is the only one they are going to have from Lynden High School. “We put their last names on there,” he says. “This is a jersey and uniform for when we go out and go to work.”
It all adds up to giving the group a place to excel—the band’s intense rehearsals play a role in that too. “I will never turn away a kid who wants to give music a try,” Galligan says. “If there is a kid who doesn’t feel like they have a spot to be, try out band.”
For the students, Wazny says playing during basketball games is a highlight. Within the enclosed environment, the sound in the gym amplifies the band. And being closer to the fans and the court ups the intensity. Colborn says everyone is just more hyped up. At football, Galligan says the band never stops, playing between downs and becoming part of the vibe of Lynden football.
The final event for the Pep Band every year is the state basketball tournament in Yakima, where the band not only plays for the girls and boys teams from Lynden, but routinely steps in and plays for other schools who don’t have pep bands. In March 2023 that meant playing for all of Blaine’s games. “Anything we can do to help out,” Colborn says. Wazny adds: “Everyone enjoys it, so why not?”
“I think the hard work pays off,” Galligan says. “Rehearsals can be hard, but it makes the game fun because we can show off a little bit. Being one of the biggest groups we’ve ever had is making it fun. It is adding even more energy to the mix.”