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Our View: WSU marching band shows what it means to be a Coug

Washington State University’s slogan is “World Class. Face to Face.”

Troy Bennefield.

And the Cougar marching band proved it Friday night, led by Troy Bennefield, assistant professor of music and director of athletic bands.

When the University of Washington marching band bus crashed on Interstate 90 outside of George, Wash., the night before the 111th Apple Cup, causing minor injuries to 47 of the 56 people on board, it was no secret Cougs would be there to pick up UW’s slack in their absence.

And they did.

Leading up to Friday’s kickoff between No. 7 Washington State and No. 16 Washington, the Cougar marching band was hard at work, putting together their own musical gameplan. Band members showed up several hours before the game to rehearse UW’s anthem, “Bow Down to Washington.”

With less than a day’s notice, the band in crimson and gray carried the purple tune in a wet, white blanket of Pullman snow.

The Cougar marching band put aside their Husky hatred and practiced the Husky harmony. The band formed a giant “W” on WSU’s football field to represent their rivals from across the state.

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Moscow-Pullman Daily News

WSU faculty member, students to perform at Carnegie Hall

Washington State University students Francis Fay and Gordon Shaw, and faculty member Ruth Boden will make their debut in Carnegie Hall on Nov. 3 in Manhattan, New York.

The three will perform with international cellist Mischa Quint and the InterHarmony Cello Ensemble.

Two musci students and their professor with their instruments.
Francis Fay, Gordon Shaw and Ruth Boden, l-r, to appear at Carnegie Hall. The invitation came as a result of their participation in the InterHarmony International Music Festival this summer in Aqcui Terme, Italy.

The invitation was extended to the trio as a result of their participation in the InterHarmony International Music Festival this summer in Aqcui Terme, Italy, where Ruth Boden was on faculty, and Francis Fay and Gordon Shaw were students.

Fay is a junior music major studying cello performance, and Shaw is a sophomore music major studying music composition, cello and guitar. Boden is an associate professor in the WSU School of Music where she teaches cello, bass, music theory and coordinates the chamber music program.

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WSU Insider

Professor conducts soundtrack for new film

Multiple WSU faculty members helped create, perform movie score.

A WSU music professor composed and performed the complete soundtrack for the new short film “The Cross-Up,” which was released in February and is now available on Amazon Prime.

Greg Yasinitsky.
Greg Yasinitsky

Greg Yasinitsky, a professor of saxophone, composition and jazz studies at WSU, originally became involved with the project when his childhood friend and screenwriter Jerry Hauck was discussing the need for a composer.

“I have always wanted to write music for the movies, but never had the opportunity,” Yasinitsky said. “This was sort of serendipitous.”

Yasinitsky’s connection to the writer gave him the opportunity, but he was chosen because of his extensive background in music, he said.

The 22-minute film, directed by Eddie Velez, was featured in multiple film festivals as well as screenings in Los Angeles. It is a comedy about a mafia-like character receiving a visit from God to turn his life around.

The entire process for creating the soundtrack took approximately a year, Yasinitsky said. This involved writing the music, recording and having the directors review the soundtrack among other steps.

Much of Yasinitsky’s work was done at WSU, he said.

“We have great musicians here at WSU and a great recording studio just down the hall,” he said. “I thought if I put this together, we can use the people here.”

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Daily Evergreen


Cougar Marching Band’s formula for success resonates with members

Perhaps the secret to the academic success of the Cougar Marching Band is there are very few secrets.

Junior Kevin Kissinger says he instantly gained almost 200 friends when he joined the group as a freshman. That kind of support system helped him stay on track and reach out for help when he needed a hand.

Troy Bennefield.

“A part of their success is that their activity requires them to organize their time,” says Troy Bennefield, director of athletic bands. “The staff and I try to make sure they know that their job here is to get a degree, and we hope that being a part of the marching band adds to their experience. Another thing we do is (try to match band members according to their needs), if there’s a freshman struggling in calculus, he or she may be marching next to a math major. We try to make sure students understand they can reach out, and really foster a family atmosphere. People are eager to help.”…

“It should be fun. They form social bonds, and I think it brings them closer to WSU as an institution. They feel like they’re part of the spirit of the university,” Bennefield says. “When they play the fight song, it’s a big part of bringing people together. They understand they can be a part of that, and they’re giving back to the university and not just getting their degrees.”

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WSU Insider

Dr. Universe: Why does music give us chills?

If you are anything like me, maybe you’ve suddenly felt a chill while listening to music. Perhaps, you got goosebumps and saw your arm hairs stand on end. Maybe you even teared up.

Greg Yasinitsky.
Greg Yasinitsky

The truth is I really wasn’t sure why music gives us chills, but I was determined to find out. My first stop was the Washington State University School of Music. That’s where I met up with my friend and music professor Greg Yasinitsky.

He played a few different notes on the piano in his office. He told me that if you play three or more notes at once, it’s called a chord.

“Major chords tend to make us happy,” he said. “Minor chords are more ominous or sad.”

However, when the music tends to be sad people don’t always describe it as unpleasant, he adds. Just think of an emotional or dramatic part of a movie. Even if the music has more of a sad sound, sometimes it brings about a positive emotion.

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Dr. Universe