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10 Questions With New Blue Band President Patrick Burke

Meet Patrick Burke, newly elected president of the best college marching band in the country. Burke joined the Blue Band his freshman year and played the cymbals for his first season before auditioning for the snare drum the following year. Before being elected president, Burke served as Public Relations Officer for the 2014-2015 season. We got the chance to ask Burke 10 questions, so we’ll let him tell you the rest.

Onward State: Describe yourself in 50 words.

Patrick Burke: My name is Patrick Burke and I am a junior studying Criminology and Security and Risk Analysis with a focus on pursuing a career in state or federal law enforcement. In addition to being the President of the Penn State Marching Blue Band, I am also involved with the Penn State Mock Trial Intramural Program.

OS: Give us a timeline of your Blue Band career thus far.

PB: My freshman year I auditioned for the Blue Band Drumline and was selected to be a member of the marching cymbal line. My sophomore year I auditioned for and was selected to play the snare drum, and I’ve continued to play on the Snareline again this year. In March of my sophomore year I was appointed to be the Public Relations Officer of the Blue Band for the 2014-2015 season and then I was elected to be the President of the Blue Band on December 10th, 2014.

OS: How does one become Blue Band President? Did you campaign? Were there elections?

PB: I became interested in running for President of the Blue Band at the beginning of my junior year. As the Public Relations Officer, I worked very closely with our previous President, Stephen Payne, and I really enjoyed helping him in his role as the President. While the Blue Band election process doesn’t involve campaigning, I was able to make a speech in front of the band before they voted to talk about my presidential platform and goals for the Blue Band.

OS: Now that you’re President, tell us about what your job entails.

PB: Being the President of the Blue Band essentially means that you are the voice of the student members of the band. The Blue Band has over 300 members, and it is going to be my responsibility to make sure that I represent them professionally in every capacity to our Blue Band Director and staff members, Penn State officials, and to the Penn State community as a whole. I will be responsible to lead our executive board, (which consists of about 13 members), and represent the student members of the band to the Alumni Band executive board. In addition, I will work very closely with our new director to ensure that the Blue Band has a successful and outstanding 2015-2016 season.

OS:  Do you plan on doing anything differently than your predecessor, Stephen Payne?

PB: Stephen Payne did an outstanding job as President this past season. He worked extremely hard to make certain that the Blue Band had a successful and memorable season, especially with it being Dr. Bundy’s last season at Penn State as the Director of the Blue Band. Stephen set a great foundation for our program’s future, and it is my goal to continue to move forward with this positive momentum and carry the Blue Band into a new era with our new Director and to take full advantage of all of the opportunities that lay ahead this season. We really have the potential to make history this season, and I could not be more excited to continue on with the Blue Band’s tradition of excellence.

OS: Will you be involved with the search for Dr. Bundy’s replacement?

PB: Currently, the Blue Band Officers do not have a student representative on the New Director Selection Committee, but I would be very supportive of a change in the process to include more input from the Blue Band President. While I (along with the rest of Penn State) will miss Dr. Bundy immensely, I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with a new Director for the 2015-2016 season!

OS:  Do you have a favorite Blue Band half time show from this past season?

PB: The Blue Band had a lot of success on the field with our halftime shows this past season, but I would have to say that my favorite show was the “Channel Surfing” halftime show. It was an awesome show to be a part of that required a lot of hard work from our staff and student members. It was simply awesome to have been able to be a part of that show, and it was so rewarding to see that the crowd in Beaver Stadium absolutely loved it!

OS: Other than musical prowess, what does it take to be a member of the Blue Band?

PB: Being a member of the Blue Band takes an extremely strong level of commitment to our tradition of excellence. It’s amazing to me that when you look around at all of our members at the end of the season, you can’t tell a rookie apart from a seasoned vet. All of our members fully immerse themselves into the professional work ethic that it takes to be a member of the Blue Band. You really need to be able to balance the demands of your academic responsibilities and your Blue Band responsibilities. It can be extremely challenging at times, but getting to represent Penn State the way we do is the ultimate reward. Our members really understand that, and their hard work and dedication along with the tireless efforts of our staff members truly makes the Blue Band the great program that it is today.

OS:  If you could pick any song for the Blue Band to perform, what would it be?

PB: Every home game at the start of the third quarter, Penn State University President Eric Barron’s wife, Molly, conducts the Blue Band in the stands to “Hey Baby.” I think it would be awesome to perform this song on the field during halftime with her conducting the Blue Band!

OS: What are the top 5 most played songs on your iPod?


  1. The Singing Lion- The Penn State Blue Band… ;)
  2. Tighten Up- The Black Keys
  3. Baba O’Riley- The Who
  4. Ramble On- Led Zeppelin
  5. Busy Earnin’- Jungle

Bonus fun fact! Blue Band runs in the Burke family. Pictured below is Burke with his older sister, Krystina (right) who played the Saxophone in the Blue Band and graduated in 2014, and Cara (left) a junior member of the Blue Band Silks.


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