Aug. 6, 2013 – During football and basketball games and homecoming, Fort Valley State University’s Blue Machine Marching Band plays tunes that keep Wildcat fans dancing, entertained and in good spirits. The BMMB is a tight-knit family, who is fiercely loyal to Fort Valley State and its band. Because of their love of music, students make extraordinary sacrifices to ensure their group remains polished. Between school and part-time jobs, band members practice songs late into the evening in Patton Hall. Some learn a new instrument (or two) to replace outgoing members, and to bolster weaker instrumental sections; while others practice to ensure on-the-field precision.
Every year, BMMB members arrive a week before classes begin to attend the FVSU Band Camp. Musicians freshen skills and welcome new members into their family. When this year’s band camp starts on August 7, a new leader will provide his expertise during the academic year. The university recently named Darnell Springer as the part-time, interim band director.
Springer explains that he is establishing several goals to secure the band’s future as a leading historically black college and university marching band.
“Right now, I’m trying to get [our program] to the point where we’re gaining some popularity at HBCUs, and within our community,” says the 34-year-old interim director. “Our band is trying to attract the attention of corporate sponsors. I would love to build the Blue Machine Marching Band into a full music program, with a strong concert band, as well as a jazz band.”
Springer says he is looking forward to this year’s band camp, and describes it as a “hyper orientation,” where freshmen and returning students have a family environment to come into.
“Band camp is strictly for fundamentals, dusting the rust of old members, and introducing new members to concepts they might not have experienced before,” Springer states. “We stick to learning the major tunes – the fight song and alma mater. All of the members have a powerful love for music. It allows them to make friends with other people they have something in common with, so it works well for the students.”
According to Springer, last year the band had more than 110 campers. This year, Springer says that he has retained the majority of last year’s members, but is looking to attract more students.
The educator says that the Blue Machine Marching Band will have more popular numbers to play for fans this season. He is working with band members to select the final playlist.
For more information, contact the Department of Fine Arts, (478) 825-6387.
See what Blue Machine Marching Members have to say about the band in the following video: