Miami's New Band Director Knows the Drill

Brooke Humfeld prepares for a noteworthy year

By Karen O'Hara, university news and communications

Brooke HumfeldMarching band kids like to say that “Band is Life and Life is Band.” Miami’s newest ‘band kid’ couldn’t agree more.

After longtime Miami band director Stephen Lytle accepted a position at West Virginia University in March, Brooke Humfeld was hired to direct the 270-member marching band and the pep bands.

She had weeks instead of months to prepare the marching band’s fall show, “Latin Sensations.” But a band kid knows how to push through any challenge.

Humfeld grew up in Newark, Delaware, in a close-knit family. Although her parents weren’t musicians, they fostered their children’s love of music. She took up the trumpet and thrived in her middle school and high school bands.

As a music education major at the University of Delaware, she found a mentor in Heidi Sarver, director of the 350-member Fightin' Blue Hen Marching Band. Sarver’s leadership style inspires Humfeld as she prepares to meet her own students.

“She was a fantastic musician and role model. I’ve always looked up to her, partly because there are not that many female band directors,” Humfeld said. “But when ‘Sarv’ knew my name freshman year, I realized I was more than just a dot on the marching band field. I want to make sure all of my students feel valued and appreciated too.“

After college, Humfeld spent three years directing high school band in Lusby, Maryland. She loved working with the students, but eventually realized that she wanted to teach at the collegiate level.

After earning a master’s degree at Appalachian State University, she took a couple of pre-doctoral detours, accepting interim band positions in Naperville, Illinois, and Des Moines, Iowa.

And that’s where band life unexpectedly met gym life.

“A friend convinced me to try CrossFit. I was drawn to this community of people from all walks of life, all kinds of careers, all wanting to better themselves,” she says.

CrossFit athletes rotate through various fundamental exercises at high intensity. No wonder a band kid would find that appealing.

It was at a CrossFit gym in Des Moines that Humfeld met her fiancé, Dalton. “He played viola for a year in grade school, but no, he’s not a musician,” she says. The band kid and the gym kid are now planning a June wedding.

At home, she is a proud pet parent to Dallas, an intrepid beagle/spaniel mix. His interests are playing frisbee, eating ice cubes, and sitting in mud puddles.

Two years ago he decided to ditch his dog sitters and go exploring. In true Homeward Bound fashion, he was gone for two weeks, while his tearful owner and the entire University of Kansas band searched for him. No word yet on whether he has any travel plans in Ohio.

This year has certainly been an eventful one for Humfeld as well. She earned her doctoral degree from the University of Kansas in the spring, then accepted the position at Miami. In addition to directing marching band, organizing a wedding, and keeping up with CrossFit, she looks forward to an active conducting schedule.

“Band is a comfortable and safe environment for everyone,” she says. “Lifelong friendships begin here. I feel lucky that’s where I get to meet the students right off the bat in August.”

And although band kids — and their directors — work hard, they wouldn’t change a thing.

“Marching band is more difficult than some people might think, but it’s also so much fun,” Humfeld says. “We do it because we love it.”

Band camp runs from August 18-26.

Meet Brooke Humfeld

Brooke Humfeld reflects on her favorite mementos in this episode of Miami Cribs.
(Video by Alyse Capaccio, university communications and marketing)