Alum Bentley Corbett-Wilson trumpets the pep band and school spirit

Published: Jul 28, 2023

pep band director Corbett-Wilson leads the band outside of the Event Center
Bentley Corbett-Wilson leads the pep band at Convocation 2022. (Marlayna Demond '11/UMBC)

Bentley Corbett-Wilson ’17, music education, M.A. ’20, teaching, is UMBC’s director of athletic bands, leading the school pep ensemble, the Down and Dirty Dawg Band. He is a musician (trumpet is his main instrument), band director at Lake Elkhorn Middle School, and faculty member at the International School of Music. But he introduces himself as UMBC’s pep band director first.

Q: How long have you been involved in music and performance?

A: I think I officially became a “musician” in middle school band in sixth grade. I joined the Las Vegas Youth Orchestra Philharmonic and traveled to China, then I performed in Carnegie Hall my senior year. 

Q: What was your undergraduate experience at UMBC like?

A: From the beginning I really wanted to get super involved on campus to make it feel like a second home. I was involved in (seb), and was president of the Student Government Association my last year. I was also just doing things like honing in on the different skills that might make me a better person.

an alum in a graduation gown sits on top of a bronze statue of a dog
Corbett-Wilson celebrates his graduation with True Grit. Photo courtesy of Corbett-Wilson.

Q: Were you in the pep band as an undergraduate?

A: I was in it for two years and then was the student director for two years. I probably would have done it for my fifth year in college but as the SGA president, it felt like a little bit too much on my plate. I was still in the orchestra ensemble, so I got to have a performance outlet then, too.

Having school spirit means knowing what your university stands for, and doing your best to help create that in whatever way you choose to live by—professionally, academically, athletically, musically, etc.

Bentley Corbett-Wilson ’17, M.A. ’20, pep band director

Q: How did you come to be the current pep band director, and what’s the position like?

A: The pep band started in 1999, so I’m only its fifth director. When the band director knows it’s their time to leave, they put out an all-call for people who might be interested, or they reach out to someone musical and skilled.  

the pep band director leads the band before Convocation
Corbett-Wilson directs the Down and Dirty Dawg Band at Convocation 2022. (Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC)

We’re under the Athletic Department, but we have a lot of autonomy over our musical decisions. So you make awesome experiences for all students in the band, and fans in the stadium. 

Q: What’s your favorite pep band memory?

A: Being able to travel with the basketball team as they make their tournaments is so fun. The energy is awesome. You get to know that you are supporting your university at a different college. We have 40 people able to go to tournaments, and even though we’re all different majors with different backgrounds, we make music.

See the Down and Dirty Dawg Band play from Corbett-Wilson’s perspective at the Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena. Video courtesy of Corbett-Wilson.

Q: Were you in the band during the famous 2018 UMBC vs. Virginia basketball game?

A: I wasn’t part of the band at the time, but I happened to bring my trumpet to the game. I ran down to the band section and played at the very end while we were winning. It was the coolest thing ever.

Q: What does “school spirit” mean to you?

A: Having school spirit means knowing what your university stands for, and doing your best to help create that in whatever way you choose to live by—professionally, academically, athletically, musically, etc. 

A group of people laugh together at an event
Corbett-Wilson, left, laughs with President Valerie Sheares Ashby and others at an on-campus event. (Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC)

It’s also about showing your pride, whether that be going to events, donating, volunteering, or mentoring at UMBC. Do anything that you can to make the community better than you found it. Even just showing up is really great, because sometimes that’s all people need. UMBC does a really good job of stressing that idea of being there for others.

Q: How do you think the pep band showcases school spirit?

A: It is a really great place to practice being your best self. Not only is it one of the embodiments of school spirit, but music has so much to do with developing a person as a whole. I am proud to be the band director. Reach out if you want to join!

Visit Corbett-Wilson’s website to learn more about his work.

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