Founded in 1885, Marching Mizzou is the marching band for the University of Missouri. With 350 members, the band features students from nearly every major at Mizzou – including numerous students from the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. For the first time in the band’s history, Marching Mizzou will participate in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Support Marching Mizzou by tuning into the parade, which will run from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Nov. 24.
A Columbia native with parents who work at the University of Missouri, there was little doubt where Sarah Keely was going continue her education once she graduated from Rock Bridge High School.
“It was my plan to attend Mizzou since I was pretty young,” Keely said. “While I did look at a few other places during my senior year of high school, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to come to MU.”
There was also little doubt that Keely would follow in her parents’ footsteps and join Marching Mizzou.
“My parents actually met through Marching Mizzou,” Keely said. “While I didn’t march during my freshman year, I’m so glad that I finally made the decision to join the band.”
While Keely grew up in a family of musicians, she didn’t get actively involved with music until she was in the sixth grade. She began playing the French horn that year and soon realized that she wanted to dive straight in.
“When I was real young, my parents tried to get me to take piano lessons, but I wasn’t really that into it,” Keely said. “I was in choir as a kid, so I wasn’t tone deaf, but I just wasn’t that interested in pursuing an instrument right away. However, once I started playing the French horn, I was totally dedicated.”
When Keely joined Rock Bridge’s marching band she started playing the mellophone, which is used as the middle-voiced brass instrument in marching bands in place of the French horn. She is now in her second year as a member of Marching Mizzou and is still playing the mellophone.
“Although I didn’t march my freshman year at MU, I was active in both the Wind Ensemble and the Horn Choir, so I was still playing quite often,” said Keely, who is a junior animal sciences major. “Once I made the decision to join Marching Mizzou everyone was so welcoming and it’s been such a positive experience overall.”
Keely said her experience as an animal sciences student has also been extremely positive. She was attracted to the degree program because of her interest in horses. Keely said that she had heard plenty of positive discussions about the program, which made her decision fairly easy.
“I didn’t grow up on a farm and I honestly wasn’t around horses all that much, but I’ve just always loved them,” Keely said. “I thought about getting a music degree for a little bit, but my passion for horses ended up winning out.”
Along with her degree, Keely is pursuing her Certificate in Equine Science and Management. She has gained plenty of hands-on experience at the Equine Teaching Facility, located at South Farm, since her first semester at MU.
“It’s really incredible how much interaction you get to have with the horses,” Keely said. “It’s such a wonderful program and I learn something new each time I’m out there. The work can be exhausting but it’s also so rewarding. I’m so thankful for everything I’ve been able to do through the program. Plus, all of the horses are so sweet.”
Keely has been a teaching assistant (TA) for a couple of equine courses and said that she is interested in doing more research as she continues her degree. She has found a new interest in studying nutrition, specifically.
“My goal right now is to keep learning and gain new experiences,” Keely said. “I’m open to just about anything, especially equine-related work. I’m excited to dive into more hands-on opportunities.”
Keely said she has held off on jumping too deep into overbooking her schedule this semester as Marching Mizzou prepares for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“We’re getting deep into the specifics of the performance, which has obviously been a lot of work,” Keely said. “When this opportunity was first announced, everyone was super excited. It’s crazy to think that the opportunity is almost here. It’s going to be an amazing experience.”