Blue Machine Marching Band rebuilds



August 31, 2011 – August 31, 2011— Booming bass, staccato snare and tight tenor drums energize Fort Valley State’s campus and nearby neighborhoods this time of year. “Come on guys, clean it up,” chides Lee Cross, a music major and one of four student directors. It’s crunch time for the drum line of the Blue Machine Marching Band as musicians perfect a cadence on the lawn in front of Patton Hall. They’re rehearsing for the first gridiron game of the season. Foremost in the minds of musicians is the “battle of the bands” against the renowned Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s Marching 100, not the fight over who wins the football game.

Watch Video: Blue Marching Machine Band gears up for a new season

The rhythm section starts and stops snippets, twirl their sticks and move subtly in unison. The cymbal players step and turn right, then left. Meantime, in room 203, the Dancing Dolls work on accessorizing their blue and gold outfits.

Watch Video: FVSU Dancing Dolls rehearse a new routine.

The brass, woodwinds and strings section of the 130-piece band practices, “Don’t Leave Me” by Blackstreet. FVSU graduate student Emmanual Roundtree, an English student from Atlanta, Ga. is the lead student director. Roundtree, a former Marching 100 member is a stickler when it comes to precision movements for the 8-minute half-time show.

Watch as drum major Blair Hunter demonstrates the “cat daddy.”

Watch Video: Cat Daddy performance

This is a rebuilding year for the band. While musicians practice, Leonard Giles, interim band director, checks the roster and laments about players he’ll lose due to rolls off this semester. His scholarship budget shrinks each year.

Recognizing the problem, 1977 FVSU alumnus Leon Moss pushed for an adopt-a-band-member project. The FVSU National Alumni Association, Inc. approved the idea and a committee formed a year ago.

“Our band needed support. We stepped up to the plate to assist with its transformation,” says band committee member Bernice Johnson. “This is a team effort of many alums, the FVSU student government and chapters,” she added.

The committee continues to collect donations for necessities from new uniforms, scholarships and instruments to transportation and meals. The uniforms are paid in full and scheduled to arrive in September. “Our chapter donated five mellophone horns, and I donated 14 instruments, 12 trumpets and six saxophones valued at $7,000. I saw the need and encouraged the chapter to get involved,” says Oscar Jessie, Greater Miami chapter vice president and an FVSU 1961 graduate. The FVSU Student Government Association contributed $60,000. To date, $103,000 has been raised.

The biggest challenge faced by the organization is always financial, according Giles, a 28-year FVSU faculty member. “The need is great for everything from member scholarships to donations of water,” says Giles. The band will perform during four home games and six contests on the road.

Fundraising efforts for the band are ongoing. Call the Foundation office at (478) 825-6474 to help. Click http://www.fvsu.edu/band for updated band information.

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