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Who are the BRMB Flutes?

The flute section is Cornell Big Red Marching Band's floveliest section.
They are known for their general love of cats, knitting, and baked goods.
Keep reading to learn more about the flutes' ranks, stories, and traditions!


The flutes, like any other section, have many traditions. Some are so old that I'm having problems tracking down their origins. However, here is the beginnings of a history of the fun and crazy things we do. Anything that happens twice, becomes a tradition. New traditions are established fairly often, but the band tends to have a hard time letting go of old traditions.

Flute Boxers

Flute boxers were introduced in 1997, when Michelle Tuorto-Collins ('98) was section leader. Each year during the fall season, the flutes get together as a section and design boxers with various fabrics and crafts. After the halftime show of the last football game, as a unified section, everyone DROPS THEIR PANTS to show off their work to anyone who is more interested in looking at multicolored underwear than in the nail-biting, death defying action of the football team.

Rank B Boxers
Rank B of the 1997 marching season shows off some of the very first flute boxers at the University of Pennsylvania. Michelle Tuorto-Collins ('98) is in the center, with Debby Levenson ('00) on the right and Jenny Liu on the left.

Rank B Boxers
Rank B of the 2006 marching season displays last year's boxers.
From left: Liz, Pam, Sam, Kunjal, Liana, and Tanya.

Rank B Boxers
Rank B of the 2018 marching season displays their boxers
From left: Claire, Niamh, Julianne, Emily, Nikita, Jamie, Bridget, Laasya, Arya

Flute Naps

Rehearsing is hard work. Especially in the mornings, or after long days of classes, or anytime really. When all the flutes get really tired (Cornell students? Tired?), the section will lie in a circle, each person laying their head on the next person's legs, allowing everyone to get some much needed rest.

flute nap
The flutes napping on the sideline of a game in 1996.

flute nap at picnic
Besides, have you ever seen circles of more adorable people? The flute section at the band picnic, 2005.


Every once and a while, the flutes can often be found actually watching the football games (*gasp*). The flutes, at one point long ago, needed a way to show their appreciation for the football team when they (actually) (finally) scored a point. And so the flute-ups were born.

Another, not-to-be-named section does push-ups when our football team scores. The flutes, who are a tad bit more creative and less driven by testosterone, came up with something fun. We throw a member of the section in the air for each point our team has, whenever we score. At times it does get a bit excessive, and there are stories of a Homecoming game where our team (amazingly enough) scored so many points that the flutes had to take a break in the middle of flute-ups, just so that the poor flute wouldn't get dropped by the section.

Legend has it, the flutes used to go lie down next to the trumpets and lift their instruments once for every point, each time we scored. This would've been changed in the mid-1990's.

flute up
The flutes tossing someone during the 2006 game against Albany.

bear ups
Tossing the bear!
The 2007 game against Brown, photo taken by David Fischell.
flute up 2018
Flute ups during the Home v. Harvard game in 2018.

Flute Amoebae

When it gets cold in Ithaca (Cold? In Ithaca?), the section will huddle together in a huge mass for warmth. The section then travels everywhere that way, occationally absorbing other random, unsuspecting bandies.

A flute amoeba from the Cornell v. UPenn game, November 2006. These become more frequent as the season wears on and the sweltering weather from the first games turns into Ithaca fall, and then Ithaca winter. The challenges come up later still, when it's so cold that the flutes attempt to remain in the amoeba while playing. We're still working on getting Show Comm to write us into the drill for a show as an amoeba, but we still have hope.

History of the Flute Ranks

Once upon a time, there were four flute ranks. The flutes held Ranks A, B, C, and D, because Show Comm realized that they had to give the first four letters of the alphabet to a truly amazing section. Or maybe I'm biased?

Around 1999, four ranks became three. Now, I'm not entirely certain whose decision this was, but the story I was told is that there just weren't enough flutes to fill four whole ranks. So, one of the ranks was retired. Rank C was retired. Not Rank D, the fourth rank, but the third. The flute section now holds Ranks B, A, and D.

In 2016, Show Comm made the (heartbreaking) decision to retire one of the flute ranks. Rank A was gotten rid of, which led to the Flute Domino Incident of Homecoming 2016 known as "Flominoes". By the end of the season, Rank A had returned, which just goes to show that no one should mess with our ranks.

In 2018, the flutes got a large class of freshman nearly doubling the size of the section. This led us to bring back a fourth rank, Rank U, pronounced Rank "C". This is because U looks like C fallen over, alluding to the Flominoe incident of 2016. Hopefully, there will be no more tumbling flutes for awhile.

Unlike other ranks, when Flutes are assigned that rank they usually stay in that rank for their time at Cornell. This leads to a bit of rank pride. If you're interested, check out the Rank D Theme song!

Want to Know More History?

Check out these stories: "Before the marching band included women" and "American Sign Language in the Big Red Marching Band OR I Love You!"