Tag Archives: Aristocrat of Bands

Band Camp Comes Marching into Tennessee State University

Aristocrat of Bands holds Edward L. Graves Summer Band Camp June 13-20

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – They have been a staple at the Tennessee State University for nearly 70 years, performing all over the country and for numerous U.S. presidents. Now the Aristocrat of Bands will bring their expertise and showmanship skills to help train the next generation of musicians during the 4th Annual Edward L. Graves High School Summer Camp.

summer_band_campSlated to take place at TSU June 13-20, the camp is designed for rising ninth through 12th graders to help foster the musicianship and marching expertise of young musicians.

During the eight-day camp, students will have the opportunity to learn about marching technique, dance and musicianship. The camp closes out with performances designed to showcase what the students have learned during the course of the week.

According to Dr. Reginald McDonald, acting Director of Bands, students from as far as Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas City, Kansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, will come to the University to learn the rigors of performing as a member of TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands and what it takes to be successful in today’s collegiate band programs.

“We are excited to be offering this opportunity for area high school students interested in expanding their marching and music skills,” said McDonald. “Not only will this expose students to the basic elements of the Aristocrat of Bands, but also experience college life for a week. When they return to their high school, they will have the tools to be a productive member of their high-school marching band.”

Cost for the camp is $275 for non-residential, and $375 for residential campers. All students must bring their own instruments, with Drum Majors supplying their own major instrument as well as mace. Flag bearers must bring their own flags, while twirlers must bring batons.

The camps ends with musicians performing at the Edward L. Graves Scholarship Gala, June 19, and again for parents and the general public on Saturday, June 20.

To register or for more information, call Melva Townsend at 615.963.2525 or email mtate01@tnstate.edu.

 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 45 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Nearly 60,000 Fans Witness Aristocrat of Bands Performance at 2015 Honda Battle of the Band Invitational Showcase

Fans also witness presentation of first-ever Honda Power of Dreams Award to TSU honoree with on-field surprise: a 2015 Honda CR-V

 

 

The Aristocrat of Bands returned to Atlanta for a sixth time to participate in the 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase January 25, performing in front of nearly 60,000 fans in the Georgia Dome.
The Aristocrat of Bands returned to Atlanta for a sixth time to participate in the 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase January 25, performing in front of nearly 60,000 fans in the Georgia Dome.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –Returning for a sixth time, the Aristocrat of Bands from Tennessee State University marched into the Georgia Dome in Atlanta January 25 and performed their high-energy showcase that has made the band famous at home and across the country.

The AOB performed in front of nearly 60,000 fans in the dome along with seven other bands from Historically Black Colleges and Universities from across the country during the 13th Annual Honda Battle of the Bands that showcased the talents and musical showmanship of more than 2,100 student musicians.

According to Dr. Robert Elliot, chair of the Music Department, the students had an opportunity to see what excellence meant in a real-world setting.

“The Honda Battle of the Bands is a class act in every way,” said Elliott. The planning was excellent, while the execution was even better, and everyone involved is treated with respect. It was an honor to be a part of this event.”

The AOB was one of eight of bands selected out of 38 bands competing for an opportunity to travel to Atlanta through a fierce online voting process. In addition to voting, students, alumni and fans of each HBCU took to social media to help their favorite marching bands advance. The band not only scored big with fans during their performance, but also with Honda, which provided each school with a $20,000 grant to support music education, plus travel to and accommodations in Atlanta for the Invitational Showcase.

“The Honda Cooperation is the only major company in the United States to make this type of significant contribution and support to HBCU bands and instrumental music education,” said Dr. Reginald McDonald, acting band director. “It was indeed an honor to be selected as one of the top eight HBCU bands in the country, and as a show of support for the selection to attend, our students put on an awesome performance.”

This was the sixth appearance for the Aristocrat of Bands at the Honda Battle of the Bands, having performed in 2003, 2004, 2011, 2012 and 2014. According to McDonald, the support of Tennessee State University student body, alumni, administration, faculty, staff and Fans was truly “breathe taking.”

“To be selected for the fourth time in five years under my leadership is confirmation that we are moving the band program here at Tennessee State University to elite status,” he added.

Audrey Stradford sits in her new 2015 Honda CR-V presented to her by American Honda Motor Co. Stratford was named the first-ever Honda Power of Dreams Award honoree for her lifelong dedication to serving HBCU students and the Tennessee State University community, and was awarded the vehicle at the 13th annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase on Jan. 24, 2015.
Audrey Stradford sits in her new 2015 Honda CR-V presented to her by American Honda Motor Co. Stratford was named the first-ever Honda Power of Dreams Award honoree for her lifelong dedication to serving HBCU students and the Tennessee State University community, and was awarded the vehicle at the 13th annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase on Jan. 24, 2015.

The showcase provided another first for schools and fans attending the event. This year, Honda awarded the first-ever Honda Battle of the Bands Power of Dreams Award, meant to honor an individual who has helped HBCU culture thrive—by helping students achieve their dreams through positive support, guidance and leadership within the institution or community.

This year, the inaugural award went to Audrey Stradford, who works as a financial aid assistant at the University, for her lifelong dedication to serving HBCU students and the Tennessee State University community. The surprising moment came when Honda presented her a new 2015 Honda CRV.

“I was floored and didn’t know what to make of it,” said ‘Miss Audrey,’ as she is known around campus. “I’ve always been one to work behind the scenes. I’ve been a giver my whole life and it was hard for me to be on the receiving end. The new car was just the icing on the cake.”

The showcase, dubbed this year as “The Power of Dreams,” was intended to serves as a reminder to students and fans that life on and off the field is a journey, and no matter the challenge, the dream or what may lie ahead, “learning never stops as long as you commit to ‘march on.’”

“Honda congratulates the bands that participated in this year’s Invitational Showcase, and thanks all of the schools, students, alumni and fans who joined us to celebrate these amazing student musicians,” said Stephan Morikawa, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Community Relations, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “Honda is proud that the Invitational Showcase truly helped students realize what Honda calls The Power of Dreams.”

 

 

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Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands Selected for 13th Annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase

Honda Turns Spotlight on TSU “Dream Maker”

 

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands Selected for 13th Annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational

AOB1NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Congratulations to the Aristocrat of Bands!

The Tennessee State University nationally and internationally recognized marching band is on its way to yet another Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase.

The band was one of eight selected from among the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities after a fierce online voting process. In addition to voting, students, alumni and fans of each HBCU took to social media to help their favorite marching bands advance to the 13th annual Battle of the Band showcase in Atlanta.

Feedback from band directors, HBCU school presidents and representatives from American Honda were also considered in the selection process.

An overall winner will be selected when the final eight bands take the Georgia Dome by storm on Jan. 24, 2015, to showcase their “incredible” musical talent and “electrifying” showmanship in front of a packed crowd.

The other bands making the final eight along with the Aristocrat of Bands are the Mighty Marching Hornets of Alabama State University, the Marching Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman University, Howard University’s Showtime Marching Band, making their first Honda Battle of the Bands appearance, and the Sonic Boom of the South from Jackson State University.

Also selected are North Carolina A&T University’s Blue and Gold Marching Machine, the Human Jukebox from Southern University, and the Marching Tornado of Talladega College.

This will be the sixth appearance for the Aristocrat of Bands at the Honda Battle of the Bands, having performed in 2003, 2004, 2011, and 2012 and 2014.

“It is gratifying that this will be the fourth time in five years for us to be chosen under my leadership,” said Dr. Reginald McDonald, acting band director. “Although we were selected by people voting online based on what they have seen and heard from our halftime shows, we look and sound great.”

According to a Honda release, this year’s theme, “March On,” is intended to serves as a reminder to students and fans that life on and off the field is a journey, and no matter the challenge, the dream or what may lie ahead, “learning never stops as long as you commit to ‘March On.’”

“Honda congratulates the eight bands selected to participate in the Invitational Showcase and thanks all of the schools, students, alumni and fans that participated in the process leading to Atlanta,” said Stephan Morikawa, assistant vice president, Corporate Community Relations, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “Honda is committed to supporting education at HBCUs by investing in their programs and providing a platform aimed at helping students realize what Honda calls The Power of Dreams.”

The 2015 Invitational Showcase will feature the first-ever Honda Battle of the Bands Power of Dreams Award. Participating teams and fans will have the opportunity to nominate an outstanding member of their community who is working to help students achieve their dreams. Honda will then select a winner who will be recognized in Atlanta at the 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase.

Tickets to the Honda Battle of the Bands are available for purchase now on the official website, starting at just $10. The participating eight HBCUs will receive a $20,000 grant from Honda to support their music education programs, plus travel to and accommodations in Atlanta for the Invitational Showcase.

In another development, the Aristocrat of Bands has, for the second time, been invited to perform at the Bands of America Grand National Championship in Indianapolis in November.

According to McDonald, TSU will be the only HBCU to play twice in the Bands of America Grand Nationals, considered the nation’s premier marching band event.

“It is unique that these top high schools at the competition will get to see our band perform. We see this opportunity as a recruitment tool for both the band and the University,” added McDonald, who put the graduation rate among band members at more than 75 percent.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU, Honda Battle of the Bands Ready to “March On” to the Georgia Dome

Voting Open for Fans to Help Determine the Final Eight to Perform in Atlanta in January 2015

2014BattleOfTheBandsNASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Aristocrat of Bands from Tennessee State University is hoping to make a triumphant return to Atlanta and the Honda Battle of the Bands as one of the eight most prestigious marching bands from America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. They hope to be selected to take the Georgia Dome by storm with their incredible musical talent and electrifying showmanship.

In order to secure one of the top spots from the 38 bands attempting to do the same, the band needs everyone to vote them into the January 24, 2015 competition. Voters can visit the Honda Battle of the Bands website and vote up to six times per day for their favorite TSU band.

To date, the Aristocrat of Bands has appeared five times at the annual showcase in Atlanta beginning in 2003. They subsequently appeared in 2004, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

For 13 consecutive years, the Honda Battle of the Bands has provided the nation’s top HBCU marching bands a platform to share their unique blend of musicianship and choreography with millions of fans. This year’s theme, “March On,” serves as a reminder to students and fans that life on and off the field is a journey, and no matter the challenge, the dream or what may lie ahead, learning never stops as long as you commit to “March On.”

Now until Wednesday, Oct. 15, fans can go online and vote daily to help select the final eight bands that will perform at the 2015 Invitational Showcase. Voting ends on October 15, 2014, at midnight EDT.

“Honda is deeply committed to supporting the dreams of HBCU students by investing in their education and showcasing exceptional student musicians,” said Stephan Morikawa, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Community Relations, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “As we continue to prepare our participating band members to March On, both on the field and in life, we look forward to a thrilling and uplifting event in Atlanta.”

The 2015 Invitational Showcase will feature the first-ever Honda Battle of the Bands Power of Dreams Award. Each participating team will have the opportunity to nominate an outstanding member of their community who is working to help students achieve their dreams. Honda will then select a winner who will be recognized in Atlanta at the 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase.

For more information on the 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands, visit HondaBattleoftheBands.com.

Since its inception in 1946, and subsequently becoming a show band under the administration of second TSU President Dr. Walter S. Davis, the Aristocrat of Bands has been featured at many international and national events, including half-time shows at several NFL games, Bowl games and Classics, and Presidential Inaugurations.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Aristocrat of Bands Marches into History

TSU becomes first collegiate band to perform at Hall of Fame Halftime Show

Tennessee State University's Aristocrat of Bands performance concluded with a tremendous fireworks display during the Pro Foot Ball Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday, August 3. Hall of Fame inductee Claude Humphrey was on the sidelines for the show. (photo by John S. Cross, TSU Media Relations)
Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands performance concluded with a tremendous fireworks display during the Pro Foot Ball Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday, August 3. Hall of Fame inductee Claude Humphrey was on the sidelines for the show. (photos by John S. Cross, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, proved to be better the second time around for the Aristocrat of Bands when they became the first collegiate band to perform the halftime show in the game’s 51-year history.

The TSU marching show band, the only collegiate band ever invited to perform at the Hall of Fame game, was first invited in 2011 when TSU Tiger great and former Chicago Bear Richard Dent was enshrined. However, the Band never made it to the field due to the NFL lockout.

But like a scene from the 2002 movie, “Drumline,” the dynamic group wowed fans with their high-energy show in the Pro Football Hall of Fame stadium parking lot. While hundreds of fans showed up for the performance, it just wasn’t the same as performing at halftime, a show the AOB has become known for both in NFL and college stadiums across the country.

“It was a little disappointing but we were fortunate to be invited back a second time, this time for Claude Humphrey, the second TSU Tiger enshrined into the Hall of Fame,” said Dr. Reginald McDonald, acting director of Bands. “It was important for us to represent the University and to celebrate the achievement of one of our family members.”

The performance by Band, according to officials at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is the first time a University band has played in the nationally televised halftime show at the annual enshrinement game that wraps up a weekend of festivities and induction ceremonies.

They can now add this honor to their already impressive list of firsts, including the first HBCU to play in a presidential inaugural parade in 1961; the first university, black or white, to play an NFL halftime show in 1955; and first HBCU invited to perform at the high school Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis last year.

“It really was an honor to not only perform for the enshrinement of one of TSU’s legendary football players, but also to bring part of the University to Canton and share our showmanship with the country. It’s something our students will never forget,” added McDonald.

AOB2The excitement started as soon as the 294-member Aristocrats ran onto historic Fawcett Stadium, a high school venue that seats only 22,000 fans. When the announcer asked the crowd if they were “ready to start the show,” the stadium erupted into deafening cheers and applause as the band broke into a rendition of “Happy” by Pharrel Williams. The eight-minute show concluded with the introduction of Humphrey, Dent and TSU president, Glenda Glover.

The show and participation in the HOF parade the day earlier, said McDonald, was an opportunity for the band to “puff out their chests.”

“This really was an opportunity to show off to the nation the high-energy showmanship of the Aristocrat of Bands,” he said. “I’ve been at the University for 14 years and director for four, and I can say this group is going to be a very special group this year and beyond.”

The Aristocrat of Bands now shifts their attention toward the John Merritt Classic halftime show at LP Field, Saturday, August 30.

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Aristocrat of Bands Brings High-Energy Show to Pro Foot Ball Hall of Fame Game Aug. 3

The Aristocrat of Bands perform last year during halftime of one of the home football games at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. The Band has been invited to perform a halftime show during the nationally televised game Sunday, Aug. 3 during the NFL Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The Band will be in Canton to celebrate the enshrinement of TSU's great Claude Humphrey into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)
The Aristocrat of Bands perform last year during halftime of one of the home football games at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. The Band has been invited to perform a halftime show during the nationally televised game Sunday, Aug. 3 during the NFL Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The Band will be in Canton to celebrate the enshrinement of TSU’s great Claude Humphrey into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – They have marched and performed all across the country, from presidential inaugurations and marching competitions to nationally televised NFL halftime shows, as well as movie and concert venues.

Now the Aristocrat of Bands from Tennessee State University will head north later this summer to celebrate TSU’s great Claude Humphrey’s enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The band will perform in the nationally televised halftime show of the Hall of Fame game on Sunday, Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio.

When Dr. Reginald McDonald found out that one of TSU’s own was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he knew the band had to be part of the celebration.

“As soon as we heard that Claude Humphrey was one of the seven NFL legends to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, we knew we had to be there,” said McDonald, acting Director of Bands. “It is important for us to represent the University to celebrate the achievement of one of our family members.”

McDonald found out the band would be the featured halftime performance the day after Super Bowl XLVIII and immediately began thinking about what they could do to make the performance memorable. However since the band was heavily into the spring semester, plans would be put on hold until this summer when members of the band return to school.

Once they do return, it will be a quick and steep learning curve, McDonald explained since they have less than three weeks to gel together as a full band when the freshmen and the upperclassmen practice as one unit.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to show off to the nation the high energy showmanship of the Aristocrat of Bands,” added McDonald. “We have about two weeks to put together an eight-minute show but we will definitely be ready. I know the people in Canton will be impressed by what we bring.”

This is the Bands’ second NFL halftime performance in less than a year. Last September, the band was invited to perform during the nationally televised game between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.

McDonald added it’s a lot of work preparing for halftime shows during the TSU football season along with the additional pressure of the NFL shows. But he knows it’s more than just a performance. It is also a venue to bring the TSU brand, he said, to those outside the state.

“This is an opportunity for us to recruit in a different area, perform in a different part of the country that we usually don’t get to, and show that TSU is the best marching and performing band in the country,” he said.

Since its inception in 1946, and subsequently becoming a show band under the administration of second TSU President Dr. Walter S. Davis, the Aristocrat of Bands has been featured at many international and national events, including half-time shows at several NFL games, Bowl games and Classics, and Presidential Inaugurations – the latest that of Bill Clinton in 1993.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

National, International Students March into TSU Summer Band Camp

Jesus Carmona, a trombone player from Sincelejo, Colombia, takes part in a band rehearsal during the Edward l. Graves Summer High School Summer Band Camp. Carmona is one of 90 students from around the country and South America taking part in the eight-day camp learning what it takes to be part of an elite university marching band. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)
Jesus Carmona, a trombone player from Sincelejo, Colombia, takes part in a band rehearsal during the Edward L. Graves High School Summer Band Camp. Carmona is one of 90 students from around the country and South America taking part in the eight-day camp learning what it takes to be part of an elite university marching band. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Just ask Jose Carmona, a music student from Sincelejo, Colombia with limited English skills, who traveled nearly 2,000 miles to attend a summer camp for musicians at Tennessee State University.

Carmona is one of 90 students from around the country and South America taking part in the Edward L. Graves Summer High School Band camp through June 28. The camp, now in its third year, is known for fostering musicianship and marching expertise in high-school students from 9th to 12th grade.

“That has been the hardest part of this camp,” said Carmona through a translator. “Aside from the marching and getting up early for practice, not understanding the language has been hard. But through the music and instruction, it has all come together.”

Jose Carmona
Jose Carmona

Carmona, who is here as a part of an exchange program with 16 other members of his university band, joins students from across the U.S. who have descended on the campus for eight days to learn what it takes to be part of an elite university marching band.

According to Dr. Reginald McDonald, acting Director of Bands, students from as far as Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas City, Kansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, have come to the University to learn the rigors of performing as a member of TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands and what it takes to be successful in today’s collegiate band programs.

“This is a great opportunity for high school students to be exposed to a university setting and our music program,” he said. “When they return to their high school, they will have the tools to be a productive member of their high-school marching band.”

Also, McDonald said, many students come to the camp as a stepping-stone once they graduate from high school to become a member of the Aristocrat of Bands.

Marcus Cooper, an alto saxophone player from Oxon Hill, Maryland, said his ultimate goal is to march and play in the University’s world-renown marching band.

“This is my second time attending this camp,” said the soon-to-be high school senior. “I love everything we are learning, from the marching style and breathing, to keeping up your tone and different music styles. It has made my decision easier to eventually attend TSU and be a member of the band.”

Laurie Ordonez
Laurie Ordonez

Laurie Ordonez, a junior from Kansas City, agreed, saying that the camp will prepare her not only for college, but also a larger role in her school band when she returns to her school in the fall. Along with playing the piccolo, she is also taking part in drum major training.

“I was told by our band director at my high school that this is some of the best musical and marching experience I could get, and it would prepare me for the next phase of my musical aspirations,” she said. “In the few short days I’ve been here I’ve been able to focus on playing with more confidence, memorize music quicker, and most importantly, play loud the TSU way and not sound sloppy.”

After eight days of early-morning workouts and grueling practices, the students will have the opportunity to show off what they have learned at the end of camp. They are scheduled to perform Friday, June 27, at the Edward L. Graves Retirement Gala, honoring his 34-year career as director of the Aristocrat of Bands.

The gala takes place at 7 p.m. in Kean Hall on the main campus. In addition to paying tribute to Professor Graves, the gala will launch the Edward L. Graves Scholarship Endowment that will provide scholarships to students participating in the TSU Band.

Family members will also have the opportunity to listen to the high school musicians during “The Showcase” concert Saturday, June 28 at the Gentry Center. The concert is free and open to the public.

“I’m proud of what these young students have been able to accomplish in just few days,” added McDonald. “They sound great, they’re talented, and have an excellent music foundation that will translate into their current programs and future endeavors.”

For more information about the Gala or Showcase, contact Michelle Allen, Band Office Manager, at 615.963.5350.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Drum Line Participates in World’s Largest Percussionist Convention, Festival

The Tennessee State University Drum Line  performed recently Nov. 9 at the TSU football game in Hale Stadium, and is  among several other major university percussion groups that will present exhibition performances at this year’s Marching Percussion Festival in Indianapolis. (photo by John Cross, TSU media Relations)
The Tennessee State University Drum Line performed recently Nov. 9 at the TSU football game in Hale Stadium, and is among several other major university percussion groups that will present exhibition performances at this year’s Marching Percussion Festival in Indianapolis. (photo by John Cross, TSU media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University Drum Line is among several other major university percussion groups that will present exhibition performances at this year’s Marching Percussion Festival in Indianapolis, Nov. 13-16.

The festival is part of the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, the largest percussion event in the world, featuring more than 120 concerts, clinics, master classes, labs, workshops, panels and presentations.

In addition to taking part in all of these events, TSU, only the third HBCU drum line to be invited to PASIC in it 38-year existence, will participate in the group’s first-ever drum line battle, featuring Ball State University, the University of Michigan, Indiana University, Lamar University, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of North Alabama.

“Being invited to present an exhibition performance for the Persuasive Arts Society International Convention is indeed an honor,” said Dr. Sean Daniels, assistant Band Director and Percussion Area Leader. “Participating on a global stage brings positive attention to our students as well as the institution”

According to Daniels, with more than 6,000 participating in PASIC each year, percussion artists present and perform in areas including drum set, marching, keyboard, symphonic, timpani, music technology and new music, among others.

In one-on-one competition, TSU will go against the University of Cincinnati in the Drum Line Battle, while in the College Snares, senior Music major Steven Phillips (Solo Snare Drum), will represent TSU against representatives from Southern Arkansas University, University of Texas at Austin, Missouri Western State University and Troy University.

In College Key Board, Malcolm Jackson, junior Music Education major (Solo Marimba), will be the face of the Aristocrat of Bands Drum Line against those from the University of South Carolina, Mississippi State University, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Lamar University and UT Martin.

Derrick Greene, junior Music Education major (Solo Timpani), will perform in exhibition in the College Timpani.

“I am excited about this event and the amount of knowledge our students will gain from attending this year’s PASIC convention. I am confident that our students will cherish this experience for many years to come,” Daniels added.

PASIC, a music service organization based in Indianapolis, promotes percussion education, research performance and appreciation throughout the world. The organization is considered the central source for information and networking for percussionists and drummers of all ages.

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Drum Major Devyn Miles Marches in the Footprints of Trailblazers for Change

Devyn Miles performs with the Aristocrat of Bands recently at LP Field during the John Merritt Classic. Miles is the third female drum major in the marching band’s nearly 70-year history, and the first in almost 20 years. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)
Devyn Miles performs with the Aristocrat of Bands recently at LP Field during the John Merritt Classic. Miles is the third female drum major in the marching band’s nearly 70-year history, and the first in almost 20 years. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Atlanta Native Only the Third Female in History to Lead TSU Marching Band

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Don’t be fooled by Devyn Miles’ lanky, 110-pound frame with a baby smile that will charm even the toughest heart.

At 5 feet 10 inches tall, she does not settle for the conventional. In fact, she challenges the status quo.

And that, along with hard work, has earned her front-row presence with the Aristocrat of Bands, as the only female drum major on the Tennessee State University 221-member marching show band.

Miles’ presence breaks a long all-male dominance of the now four-member squad, considered the heartbeat of the band. She becomes only the third female drum major in the marching band’s nearly 70-year history, and the first in almost 20 years.

“I had been watching and wondering how come there is no girl up there,” said Miles, a junior Computer Science major with concentration in Bioinformatics, and a French horn player in the marching band and the Wind Ensemble.

After being with the band for three years, Miles was just not pleased with the continued absence of a female on the leading team, referred to as the “Fantastic 4,” although she knew becoming a drum major would require a lot of work.

Along with being a drum major for the AOB, Miles also plays French horn in the marching band and the Wind Ensemble. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)
Along with being a drum major for the AOB, Miles also plays French horn in the marching band and the Wind Ensemble. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“Just then the call came out for applicants to try out for two drum major spots, and immediately I said to myself, ‘This is your chance Devyn,’” the Atlanta native said. “But there were some key requirements. Before even applying you had to have proven leadership skills, a minimum 2.7 GPA, and playing ability.”

For Miles, those seemed to be the easy part. She was averaging almost a 3.0, had been playing instruments since middle school, and she knew she could lead.  She applied and made the final cut as the only female along with four males to compete for the two spots.

Miles was ready for what laid ahead – the auditions and conditioning. In fact, according to Acting Band Director, Dr. Reginald McDonald, Miles was a formidable competitor in the tryout. She asked for no favors, and wanted no special treatment because she was a female.

“Actually what helped Devyn during the try-out process was that she did not look different from the men,” McDonald said. “She went out of her way to make sure that she was able to keep up with the men and that no one in our audience was able to distinguish the one female from the three males until they took off their hats.”

In the long history of the marching band, Miles’ team of applicants was the first group to go through a tryout to become drum majors. Prior to spring 2013, McDonald said drum majors were selected by the band director.

“First I was scared and felt some intimidation about the amount of work involved in the tryout, including a lot of practice,” Miles said. But she was used to hard work. Playing the French horn, arguably the most difficult brass instrument to master, one must practice a lot. And, that she did in the tryout, to master every move, step, detail, and definitely, throwing and catching the mace.

“You can’t let your mace fall; it’s sacred,” Miles said, adding, “I set my mind to it with a lot of practice until I found a comfortable way to do it.”

Miles was selected along with another male.  Today, she is a key part of the “Fantastic 4” – standing tall, moving in unison with the others and gracefully tossing and catching her mace – as she and the other three drum majors whistle and signal commands to their fellow marchers.

“Devyn is a very capable part of our team and I am glad to have her as a member of the Fantastic 4,” said Semaj Wansley, head drum major and a senior Music major from Moss Point, Miss. “I admire her work ethic. She overcomes those difficult obstacles placed before her, and I am sure that’s going to take her far in life.”

While Miles is thankful to her fellow band members and directors for their support, she can only imagine the difficulty her earlier compatriots faced more than 30 years ago (when the band allowed its first female) to make it possible for her to even dream of becoming a drum major.

“A lot of people supported me and there was no resentment toward me, and I thank them for that because if it was not for that support I probably wouldn’t be here,” Miles said. “I feel very fortunate and blessed because I heard it was not so smooth for the other females who were here before me. Their struggle and perseverance helped to pave the way for me.”

Felicia Carter Johnson was one of those females. As the first woman band member to become a drum major at TSU, Johnson, a Birmingham, Ala., native, had a bumpy start.

“I was teaching a dance routine when Prof. (Edward) Graves asked me if I was interested in becoming a drum major,” said Johnson, a 1983 graduate (Biology), then a sophomore with a dual role of playing the tenor saxophone in the marching band and the baritone saxophone in the Jazz Band.

She agreed but little did she know the amount of resentment she would receive from her fellow band members.

“I was resented mainly by the men and some even quit because I was asked to join, and that really hurt me,” Johnson said. “But I realized that I was a musician first, and I didn’t think it (drum major) was handed to me. I felt I earned it because I was just as qualified and good as any of them. There were many others who supported me and some of those who quit started coming back when they saw how well the band was doing. Some apologized to me later.”

Johnson’s perseverance, talent and leadership showed that women were just as capable as men, and paved the way for other women such as Quanda Watkins (’92 – Sociology, trombone) of Atlanta, who would later become only the second female TSU drum major, and now Miles. These women, together, prove that anything is possible. You just have to have the courage to steer ahead.

“I am glad I didn’t just think about wanting to be a drum major. I saw the opportunity and I went for it,” said Miles, whose dream is to become a music producer or arranger.

For now, Miles is making sure her mace never falls, and staying in step with the “Fantastic 4.”

Don’t forget to come out on Saturday, Oct. 26, when the “Fantastic 4” and the Aristocrat of Bands lead the TSU Homecoming parade down historic Jefferson Street.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331


About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top Universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912 Tennessee State University celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu

AOB Preps for Primetime (video)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Courtesy of WKRN Channel 2) – The Tennessee State University band is taking their show on the road to be part of a nationally televised game.

The 221-member group known as the Aristocrat of Bands (AOB) will perform during halftime of the Rams-49ers matchup Thursday night in St. Louis.

“We love what we do,” said Head Drum Major Semaj Wansley. “The crowd, they come for a good show, and we give it to ’em.”

The band was already scheduled to be in St Louis for Saturday’s Gateway Football Classic between TSU and Central State University (CSU), when they were given the go-ahead for the NFL gig by a TSU alumnus who works for the Rams organization.

As an Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) marching band, the high-steppers put on a show like no other.

“Doing a halftime show for us is a 40- or 50-minute aerobic exercise, and so we have to first make sure everybody’s in good shape and things of that nature,” said Dr. Reginald McDonald, Director of Bands at TSU.

“Cardio,” added Rocile Cain. “Cardio really helps and once it’s time to perform the adrenaline kicks in. So that helps, too.”

(video courtesy of NewsChannel5)

Cain is captain of the Sophisticated Ladies, the dance team that accompanies the instrumental ensemble.

The AOB spent weeks practicing for not only the halftime show, but also two other routines for Gateway Classic events.

“It’s somewhat difficult, but it’s all keeping everything in your head focused,” Wansley said.

“(It’s all about) going over everything more than once, and just making sure we have it and it’s perfected,” said Cain.

The AOB has a history of high-profile performances since its inception in 1946. The group performed during the Presidential Inauguration of Former President Bill Clinton in 1993. In recent years, they have performed at several home games of the Tennessee Titans.

Dr. McDonald told Nashville’s News 2 the band tailors every performance for the specific audience.

While the group marched for News 2 cameras Tuesday morning, the full performance scheduled for Thursday night is top secret until showtime.

“We want to kind of keep some things as a surprise, but we do promise to entertain a national audience,” McDonald said. “And we promise to entertain the people in the St. Louis area that have never seen a band like our band before.”

The AOB is scheduled to leave campus en route to St. Louis Thursday morning.

Thursday night’s game will be televised on the NFL Network.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331


About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top Universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912 Tennessee State University celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu