Tallahassee, FL - The FAMU Marching 100 band started section rehearsals Monday.
After serving a year suspension after the 2011 hazing death of drum major Robert Champion, new band director Dr. Sylvester Young says they're starting from scratch.
But, he says he has high expectations. He says, "Our unpublished motto is, better than the best ever."
The once some 400-member band is now practicing with about 190 potential players. Administrators say they do not have a set size limit on the band at this time. They say the focus is on the quality of the music and performance, not the quantity.
Administrators call it the "new" Marching 100. However, Dr. Young says they will hold on to some tradition.
He says, "We're actually amplifying those trademarks, cleaning them up. But, at the same time, we're capitalizing off of cleaning up and improving the things that the younger generation somewhat has learned to expect."
As to whether the Marching 100 will be ready to hit the field by FAMU's first football game, the band director says it's on a day by day basis, or even a rehearsal by rehearsal basis.
"It's sort of like cooking a cake. You can't take it out of the oven too soon, you'd have a raw cake. We're at the same point. We just have to wait until all of these criteria play themselves out." Says, Dr. Young.
Before being allowed to practice drills, administrators met with students during an orientation for freshmen Saturday. They made the new guidelines clear: students must have a 2.0 or better G.P.A., must have earned 24 credit hours the last academic year, and student are only allowed to participate for four Fall semesters.
FAMU Interim President Dr. Larry Robinson says, "The most important reason to do those things is that these students come here to perform in the band. But, it's a step towards them getting an education. We thought it was important that they progress academically and their participation in the band will just enrich their overall academic experience."
Dr. Robinson adds, "They get it, they understand and this indeed will be a new day."
Dr. Young is expected to announce on August 15th if the band will participate in the first football game, which is September 1st in Orlando.
More of the new guidelines and changes to the music department are detailed below in the FAMU press release.
The Florida A&M University Marching 100 could be back on the field as soon as the university's first football game in September.
Band DIrector Sylvester Young is expected to make an announcement Aug. 15 on the band's first performance, which could come at when the Rattlers face the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils at the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Sept. 1.
In the meantime, band staff and students are not waiting in preparing.
Saturday, new and old members of the Florida A&M University Marching 100 gathered for the first day of auditions for the upcoming fall semester.
It was the first time in over a year that music thundered from the Foster-Tanner music building and the revelry of musical steps of the past shone through. The university announced the lifting of the band’s suspension in June.
“Think about what you aspire to be in this marching band,” said Kawachi Clemons, the chair of the FAMU Department of Music to a crowded room of incoming band members, totaling more than 190, and their families. “Every time you put on that uniform, you’re an ambassador for FAMU; you’re an ambassador for Florida.”
In between speakers addressing issues of hazing that shook the past and the push to move forward into a new chapter, more than 30 Marching 100 members played songs classic to the group over the years under the direction of Young.
Young’s mantra: “Failure is not an option.”
The 100 was put on suspension in 2011 after the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion in November of that year. Since that time the university has faced a host of further changes to the band and student organizations in steps to proactively address the issue and change what has been called a culture of hazing that was considered rampant throughout the internationally known band.
New enrollment requirements ensure that only FAMU students are in the band — before students from all three higher learning institutions in Tallahassee, and even some that were not students, were allowed to participate.
Students must also have a 2.0 GPA, have earned at least 24 credit hours in the past year and must maintain 12 credit hours per semester and are only allowed to participate in the band for four Fall semesters.
FAMU has also hired a special assistant to the President for anti-hazing and a compliance officer for the music department to ensure that all members continue to meet standards of participation, while also creating an anonymous website where hazing can be reported.
“We are all in this together,” said Interim President Larry Robinson, who added that personal responsibility of all band members about what is right and wrong are paramount in moving forward. “Together we will collectively redefine what people know about this university and this band.”
Robinson noted that after the events of 2011, “Every band had to take a look at the issue of hazing,” he said. “Now when they look, they’re going to find that Florida A&M is the model of how to succeed. We took hazing to its knees.”
Robinson continued, “There’s nothing we do in the dark of night that we wouldn’t do in the light of day. I’m confident in the students that are here.”
they Down to 126 now......well its been nice knowing FAMU but them days are over lol
well it's a rebuilding year for them, they went from having no band to having one. New direction, new vision, new day. FAMU will be ok and they'll increase in numbers in the upcoming seasons. They'll still sound light-years ahead of other bands that have been going without a break. I think many people that are doubting are people that are used to quantity instead of quality. And I would expect TnSU and BCU to have a edge due to them not being disbanded and reborn, if they didn't then one would have to seriously look at their program.
I'm glad Dr.Young is focusing on quality and not quantity.. Cuz FAMU had gotten to be a big,hot ass mess on the field... Negroes everywhere,no organization,etc.. Maybe they will be better than previous years,but honestly,I've nener been impressed with the 100... At all.. We always tore dat azz up!!!!!JUKEBOX!!!!!!!!!!!
FAMU should be OKAY. Numbers really don't mean anything if you have everybody on the same page. They just have to boost their skill levels.
Come on, it took them decades to build that program.