Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

The Marching Band is Back

When the FAU football team played Oklahoma State at Dolphin stadium on September 8th everyone was watching, including FAU freshman Bryan Murphy. The game was nationally televised on ESPN2 and more than 16,000 fans filled the stadium.

FAU lost, but Murphy had a great time.

Murphy isn’t on the football team. He is in FAU’s new marching band.

“Getting out in the center of the field in front of the cameras and all those people, blasting our brains out and having everyone cheering for us was the most amazing feeling,” Murphy says of the band’s first pre-game and half-time performances of the new season.

Murphy, who plays alto saxophone, is one of the 50 students that make up the new band. He isn’t a music major, but 90 percent of them aren’t. “Of all the bands, marching band is more for everyone.” He says it’s also a great way for people to keep up with their playing, which is why he joined.

Jason Lindsey, a junior majoring in criminal justice, joined the band not just for the three credits, a good grade for his transcript and the $500 each band member gets; he did it for the experience. “Music has always been a big part of my life,” says Lindsey, who’s been playing trumpet since the fifth grade.

With a new group of students, a new band director (see page 12), and almost triple the budget of years past, the band finally has some stability.

“We will have a solid base if we make it through this year,” says Dr. George Sparks, director of the College of the Arts.

However, this was not the case in the band’s first few years.

The first and second years were difficult, says Sparks, who was the band’s director back when the program started in 2002. The school started the band from scratch, and had only 60 days to put it together because funding always came in late. “The third year we decided that if we can’t identify funding by X date there would be no marching, because scrambling to put a band together in such a limited amount of time doesn’t serve the students,” he says.

There wasn’t a band that year, but it wasn’t the end. “We never wanted to shut it down forever,” explains Sparks. “We just needed to take a breath and see how to stabilize the program.” Now that the band is back, Sparks believes things will only get better. Especially with the support of Brogan and the administration, who made the marching band one of the school’s top priorities.

“All division 1A schools have a big-time marching band,” says Chris Chapman, the marching band’s new director. “This was the biggest reason Brogan made the call to bring the band back.”

“Apple pie and ice cream, peanut butter and jelly, football and marching bands, you can’t have one without the other,” says football coach Howard Schnellenberger, who was impressed with the bands performance at FanFest on August 21.

“A university needs tradition, even a young university,” said President Frank Brogan. “Now with the football team, 17 NCAA sanctioned sports, we needed a first-class band, and they needed to be equipped in a first-class way.”

Thanks to more than $300,000 dollars worth of funding the band was able to hire a new athletic band director and purchase traditional-style band uniforms, complete with capes and hats. The new uniforms, $270 dollars each, are a huge step up from the $45 Hawaiian shirt-and-khakis look of its first years.

With the basics nailed down and funding taken care of, the band is looking for anyone they can get to increase their numbers. When the band first began back in 2002 it had 77 members. In the next few years, marching band director Chris Chapman hopes to more than triple this year’s band membership to 250 students. His goal is to be able to run a Block F formation that stretches from one end of the field to the other.

“We want a first-class marching band to match a first-class football team,” says Sparks. “There is a symbiotic relationship between the marching band and the football team; as the football team does better, the marching band will do better.”

It’s not just a football game, it’s a party and a color event, he explains. “The band has to provide that atmosphere of fun and excitement.”

Director of bands Kyle Prescott says that the band wants to create a festival atmosphere at games that’s beyond comparison. “We want to be like Big 12, Big 10, ACC schools, and perform big-time college marching band shows.”

The band has four different big-time shows planned this year: patriotic, classic rock, a salute to Stevie Wonder, and a salute to 100 years of Las Vegas. Chapman says the band also does a traditional style pre-game show similar to Big 10 and SEC schools. “Our goal is to entertain all parts of the field at all times,” he says. “And of course have some fun.”

Prescott also thinks the marching band will bring up attendance at the games. “A band adds so much to a football game. People will come to games just to see the band play.”

Heather Coltman, dean of the Department of Music, says that besides being able to provide quality entertainment it’s important that the marching band is at a high level artistically and musically. “They aren’t just cheerleaders for the football team, they are musicians.”

Sparks and Prescott agree that producing quality music is a top priority. “We want to provide a training lab for music education majors as well as people just interested in music,” Sparks says.

“The great thing about marching band is it gives students a chance to play every single style,” says Chapman.

Sparks says the band also provides an outreach to the community.

“It’s all about planting seeds and growing, and getting the word out not just with people but through our music,” Chapman says. The band will be one of the biggest selling points for the university, what he calls “plain old advertising.” He says that during the rest of the year when football is over, the band will represent the school and get its name out there in the community.

Coltman says the band will create an identity and icon for the university. “The arts are such an important part of our sense of belonging. When people think of FAU they will hear the marching band’s fight song,” she says.

Prescott agrees, “They will be a national recognition for FAU.” If you are interested in joining the marching band, contact Chris Chapman at [email protected].

Rachael Joyner can be reached at [email protected].

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