Miranda Finn

Graphic Designer and Illustrator

Thesis Statement

More Than Music

The collegiate marching band experience is significant to many people who participate in the activity. The band fosters meaningful relationships and lifelong memories for its members, and the stories they take with them can be pretty incredible.

For this project, current members and alumni of the fourteen Big Ten Conference marching bands were asked to respond to the following: “Please share one memory from your time in college band. It can be anything that has stuck with you over the years—something you will never forget.”

More Than Music is a book containing over 50 stories, spanning years from the 1980s to 2019. The “slice of life” approach highlights the side of marching band that the audience doesn’t often get to see—the camaraderie, support, hard work, laughter, and pride. Though multiple bands are represented, many of the memories share common themes and values. It goes to show that bandsmen share a bond, no matter which university they attend, and that being a member of a marching band is an experience like no other.

Read the Book on Issuu »

About the Project
Gallery Exhibition Design
Data Analysis
Organizing the Stories
Page Design

About Miranda
Awards and Recognition



The book was printed through Blurb. It features an image-wrap hardcover and 140 full-color pages.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spring Capstone Exhibition in UNL’s Eisentrager-Howard Gallery was cancelled. The display plan for this project (right) was to show the printed book alongside a few items from the University of Nebraska Bands’ collection. The Cornhusker Marching Band uniform was included because parts of the jacket were used as visual assets in the page design. The two other items were chosen because they were given as gifts to the CMB and are examples of camaraderie among Big Ten marching bands. The following are descriptions that would have been posted next to the items:

Gifted to the Cornhusker Marching Band by the Marching Illini during the CMB’s visit to Illinois in 2015. It is signed by the members of the 2015 Marching Illini and includes a welcome message from director Barry L. Houser, which reads, “Welcome Cornhusker Marching Band! We hope you have a great time on campus and enjoy the sights and sounds of our version of Memorial Stadium! We are glad you are here! All the best!”

Gifted to the Cornhusker Marching Band by the University of Minnesota Marching Band during the UMMB’s visit to Nebraska in 2018. This was the Minnesota band’s first conference road trip in over 20 years.

Current uniform coat worn by the Cornhusker Marching Band.


Research was conducted in the form of a survey, which collected stories from Big Ten band members and alumni, as well as information including when they were in band and which school they attended. The purpose was to explore what commonalities appeared in the submissions, especially between different schools and age groups.

The survey link was posted to my personal Facebook profile, the “2019 Cornhusker Marching Band” Facebook group (approximately 310 members), and the “I’m a Member of a Big Ten Marching Band” Facebook group (approximately 9,600 members). The post was also shared to the “Cornhusker Marching Band Alumni” Facebook group (approximately 1,300 members) by a Nebraska alum. 

Within the first six days, the survey received 89 responses, with 51% coming from Nebraska Cornhusker Marching Band members and alumni. After the sixth day, the survey link was posted again to “I’m a Member of a Big Ten Marching Band” in an attempt to collect more responses from the other Big Ten schools, and was closed after two more days. A total of 135 responses were submitted, which were used for the original data analysis and thesis proposal.

Several months into the project, the survey was reopened for the purpose of collecting more stories and received 12 additional responses. The data analysis has been updated to include those responses.

Detail from University of Michigan uniform.

Data Analysis

Which school did you attend/are you attending?
In total, the survey received 147 submissions. The University of Nebraska received the most responses of the fourteen schools in the conference.

University of Nebraska – 47 responses (32%)
University of Minnesota – 15 (10.2%)
Purdue University – 14 (9.5%)
University of Illinois – 13 (8.8%)
University of Iowa – 9 (6.1%)
The Ohio State University – 8 (5.4%)
Indiana University – 7 (4.8%)
Michigan State University – 7 (4.8%)
University of Michigan – 6 (4.1%)
Northwestern University – 6 (4.1%)
Penn State University – 6 (4.1%)
University of Wisconsin – 6 (4.1%)
University of Maryland – 2 (1.4%)
Rutgers University – 1 (0.7%)

In which decade was your last year of marching band?
118 responses were from current band members and recent alumni.

Currently in band (as of the 2019-2020 school year) – 59 responses (40.1%)
Last year was in 2010s – 59 (40.1%)
2000s – 11 (7.5%)
1990s – 12 (8.2%)
1980s – 6 (4.1%)

Which instrument(s) did you play?
Piccolo players were the most represented instrument group out of survey respondents, followed by mellophone and trumpet. The option to choose multiple instruments was provided, and nine respondents choose two instruments. Three of those respondents selected both flute and piccolo, which contributed to the high number of flute/piccolo players. There was also a fill-in-the-blank option, and the following categories were added by respondents: undergraduate staff, flugelhorn, Big Ten flag corps, and graduate assistant.

Please tell me ONE story from your time in college band. It can be anything that has stuck with you over the years—something you will never forget.
Each respondent was asked to submit one memory from their time in college marching band. I wished to know which common themes appeared among the memories, especially between different bands. The most common theme was that of performances and football games, including positive interactions with and support from fans; the experience of marching the band’s pregame show in front of a live audience for the first time; winning important games/big upsets; and bowl game performances. The next most common theme had to do with friendships formed in band, including spending time together during trips; bonding during band camp; finding support in one another after a tragedy; and having positive interactions with other marching bands. The remaining responses mentioned enjoyment of specific trip locations and sightseeing, as well as enduring extreme weather events. Fourteen of the submissions referenced a variety of topics, which didn’t fit with the previously listed themes. These stories were grouped into a category labeled “Other.”

Performances/games: 63 responses (42.9%)
Friendships/”band family”: 49 (33.3%)
Trips (emphasis on specific locations and sightseeing): 12 (8.2%)
Weather events: 7 (4.8%)
Other: 14 (9.5%)

The option was given for respondents to submit a photo along with their memory, for use in the book. Sixty-seven respondents (45.6%) chose to submit a photo.

I give permission for my submission and photo to be presented publicly as part of the final product.

Yes: 120 respondents (81.6%)
No: 7 (4.8%)
Yes, but omit my name: 20 (13.6%)

Are you willing to be contacted for potential follow-up questions about your submission?
Respondents were asked if they would be willing to be contacted for follow-up questions based on their submission. This was done in case a story was considered for use but required elaboration.

Yes: 129 responses (87.8%)
No: 18 (12.2%)

Organizing the Stories

Once the submissions had been collected, the next task was to organize them. Since the project’s purpose was to emphasize common experiences among different bands, the stories were sorted by topic, similarly to what was discussed in the data analysis, but broken down further. Eventually, nine chapters emerged:

  1. Making the Band (the audition process and getting in)
  2. First Game Day (first time marching pregame/interacting with an audience)
  3. Band Family (making friends, fun times together)
  4. Support System (support in the face of tragedy)
  5. Big Ten Bond (positive experiences meeting fellow Big Ten bands)
  6. Traditions (participating in traditions and inside jokes)
  7. Team Spirit (interacting and celebrating with fans and the football team)
  8. Shows to Remember (memorable performances)
  9. World Stage (once-in-a-lifetime performance opportunities)

It should be noted that not all submissions were included in the book (67 of 147 were used); some were excluded at the request of respondents, and others were left out due to lack of context. 

Within each chapter, stories were paired with another containing similar content and placed on a spread together. Stories that had a large amount of text as well as a photo were placed on their own spread, and some shorter stories were highlighted in large text on their own spread.

Additional sections in the book include an introduction, a list of all of the bands in the conference and their nicknames, acknowledgments, an “about the curator (author)” section, four pages of bonus photos that were submitted but their accompanying stories not used, end notes, and photo credits.

Page Design

Visual Assets
Photos from the respondents’ submissions were used alongside their relative stories. Photos were also acquired from several official band photographers; some were delivered at no charge and others were purchased online, all under a personal use agreement.

One of the first concepts for the book involved a nostalgic, scrapbook feel. The original plan was to use photos of each school’s uniform. I photographed my Nebraska band uniform, but only a few schools (Illinois, Michigan, and Purdue) responded to the request for photos. I still wished to move ahead with this idea, so I was forced to get creative. I was able to find photos of a few Maryland band memorabilia items (pins, band letter), and I went to ShutterStock for photos of instruments, which expanded my options, though not ideal.

The original plan for the color palette was to use the school colors of the Big Ten Conference. However, all of the basic colors are used at least once within the conference. Next, I tried to only use the most common colors (red, blue, black, yellow), but that excluded schools like Northwestern (purple) and Michigan State (green). Additionally, the particular shades that were at that moment were all very basic and saturated. Eventually I abandoned the idea of using school colors and tweaked the palette into something softer and more pleasing to the eye.

Page design evolution.

Each image in the final version received a vintage treatment for continuity.

Left to right: Details from Nebraska, Illinois, and Purdue band uniforms.


University of Nebraska Foundation
Marketing Communications Intern

Assist designers with original print projects for internal foundation use and all four University of Nebraska campuses. Create layouts for marketing and event materials such as flyers and invitations, which are distributed to 200 – 500 donors per event. Maintain brand standards for each campus and the foundation while creating unique designs. Meet directly with project manager and clients to discuss project aims and timeline. Prepare and package documents for print production, taking into consideration ink and paper types to ensure the highest quality. Communicate with print vendors to request estimates and orders; send packaged files along with production, timeline, and delivery specifications. Make edits to copy, update past work for current use, and file completed projects for archive.

Glenn Korff School of Music
Student Graphic Designer

Design marketing and recruiting materials for the University of Nebraska Glenn Korff School of Music, including posters, brochures, flyers, print advertisements, logos, and social media graphics. Advertisements are published in regional Midwest music educator magazines as well as national instrument- and genre-specific magazines, which reach between 500 – 3,000 customers per publication. Recruiting posters and flyers are distributed to up to 3,000 clients nationwide. All designs must follow university brand standards while remaining fresh and engaging. Work directly with the Marketing & Public Relations Coordinator to discuss project goals, timeline, and scope. For higher profile projects, work directly with clients. Prepare all files for production at UNL Printing Services according to their guidelines.

Awards and Recognition

2018 — AIGA Show Student Gold & Judge's Choice Winner for Illustrated Card Deck-
2019 — UNL Undergraduate Juried Art Exhibition (Illustrated Card Deck)-
2019 — AIGA Show Student Silver Winner for App Prototype-