A hush settles over the practice field as Marching Mizzou comes to attention. Sweat drips down each members’ forehead in the 90-degree heat as they strive to stand, still as statues, and prepare to begin their halftime performance. With the long blow of a whistle, the band members step off and begin playing their instruments while their director stands 100 feet up on the crow’s nest overlooking the field.
Amy Knopps, director of Athletic Bands at the University of Missouri, is no stranger to the Marching Mizzou practice field. In fact, she was a member of Marching Mizzou during her MU undergraduate years. Knopps played flute and served as drum major. She fell in love with being on the other side of the podium while completing her music education degree. She then went on to pursue a master’s degree in music at the University of Kansas and a doctorate in musical arts at the University of Georgia.
Knopps’ passion for music began in the fifth grade when she had the opportunity to teach her friend Jonie the chromatic scale.
“Helping my friend get better made me feel really good,” Knopps said.
She knew from that instant she wanted to invest her time in the music industry and continue learning more.
John Tummons, a Marching Mizzou alumnus and assistant professor of agricultural education and leadership, marched with Knopps during her time as an undergrad.
“Amy was always very positive and energetic,” Tummons said. “She provided leadership not only in Marching Mizzou, but also across campus.”
Knopps has been moving her way up in leadership roles for the past several years. She served for seven years as associate professor of music, associate director of bands and director of athletic bands in the School of Music and Dance at Eastern Michigan University. Knopps said she enjoyed her time there, but knew that being the director of Marching Mizzou was her one true calling.
With the football season in full swing, Knopps is excited for the season for Marching Mizzou.
“I am really proud of the growth the band has had in these three years,” said Knopps, who is going into her third season as director.
Marching Mizzou defined Knopps’ college experience. She wants current members to recognize “how much it means to be part of the historic experience for Marching Mizzou.”
The students are the driving force of success for the band and who help contribute to keeping the tradition strong.
“These students have the opportunity to show the fan base what they have accomplished in a short amount of time,” Knopps said.
Hunter Willow, senior drum major for Marching Mizzou has worked with Knopps the past three years.
“Dr. Knopps is fantastic when it comes to pushing us not only as musicians, but people as well,” Willow said. “I have felt myself grow in confidence just from working with her.” Willow is going into his second year as drum major.
Marching Mizzou is one part of four elements in the game day experience, Knopps said.
“The heart of game day is the football game obviously,” she said. “After that, it is Marching Mizzou, along with the cheer squad and Golden Girls that work together to create that Mizzou game day experience.”
The 2019 season is packed with a variety of shows that highlight a music curriculum that is diverse and relevant to societal trends. Some of the upcoming halftime performances for Marching Mizzou include selections from the band Queen, a tribute to the St. Louis Blues hockey team with an arrangement of “Gloria,” and a compilation of songs from pop star Beyoncé.
Knopps hopes to see the MU community cheering on the tigers during the upcoming season and enjoying the band’s pre-game, halftime and post-game performances.