"I suppose it seems a little strange," Cowley admits of his faithful attendance, "but it's not a big deal." It started eleven years ago, he explains, when a student of his, Karen England, became the first band's female drum major. He has continued to come because he likes music and "it's right on my way home from work, so why not?"
Though he retired from teaching in 2008, Cowley continues his research in the astronomy department. He wears the safety vest because he bikes between his home near Pioneer High and his office in the Dennison Building. Asked what he's researching, his succinct reply is that he's trying to "figure out what the stars are made of."
He'd rather talk about the band. "You can see a difference from Monday to Friday," he says. "On Monday, they're still reading the sheet music, and by Friday they have it memorized." He especially enjoys those times the band members break up the monotony of rehearsals by "stunting," as he calls it. One day, the trumpets will all wear long socks, another day the tubas will all show up in chef's hats. Today, he laughs at the tubas dancing as they play, a few players almost kneeling on the ground, leaning back in a dramatic pose.
Cowley rarely goes to football games: to him, the rehearsals sound better, because for the first part of each session, the band stays in place and focuses on the music. "It's hard to march and play," he says. "They don't play as well when they're marching. Nobody could."