Moving onto a nearly empty campus last weekend. Drum line auditions the next morning. Marching rehearsals at 9 a.m. daily: It’s no mystery why the Mighty Sound of Maryland marching band calls this “Early Week.”

The roughly 250-member ensemble is spending the long, hot last days of summer vacation on outdoor turf field, in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and behind the Reckord Armory this week to learn or refresh marching fundamentals and start memorizing the first football halftime show of the season.

The recreation field next to Xfinity Center and the outdoor football practice field have been new turf this week for the band, which worked with Maryland Athletics and University Recreation and Wellness to shift for a few days from its traditional practice site, Chapel Field. The turf fields more closely resemble the surface in Maryland Stadium.

“In terms of moving, you can feel the sliding of your feet on dirt versus a field of grass,” said Drum Major Patrizia Pelingon ‘20. “It’s not just great for us having a better texture to march on, it’s better for maintaining the facilities around the school.”

With the turf fields come stadium lights, allowing the Mighty Sound of Maryland (MSOM) to keep going after the sun has gone down—meaning practices that now can run until 10 p.m.

“Even though we went a little bit later than we normally do, I think people were responding to it a little bit better because they weren’t as taxed by the sun during that last block,” said Drum Major Garrett Tatano ‘20.

The long days also allow the members to get to know each other, whether through section rehearsals, shared meals or fun incentives. The color guard sings school songs while marching around campus, both to help the new members learn the songs and get familiar with their new surroundings. KAOS, the low brass section, yells as members run back onto the field after breaks.

Today is a Spirit Day, when MSOM members students traditionally wear their loudest Terp gear.

On the last night of Early Week, alumni and parents are invited for a performance.

“It shows the bonds of being in the organization, that there is a tie throughout the years,” said Andrea E. Brown, director of athletic bands. “There are elements of what’s happening out there that are familiar to them. There’s that shared experience. Alumni are interested in remembering that and reliving that as they can.”

Pelingon said this finale is rewarding for all the members, especially the newest ones.

“It’s really motivating at the end of such a long week to see people who have been through what you have come out to see it again,” she said.

Click through the gallery below for taste of Early Week practice.