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The Blue & Gray Press | February 19, 2018

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Pep Band to Drum Up School Spirit

By COLLEEN HUBER

The University of Mary Washington will be adding a pep band in an attempt to garner more school spirit for the Eagles.

Students attempted to create a pep band last year, but were unable to organize the group, according to Kevin Bartram, director of the UMW Orchestra.

Bartram will be the faculty advisor of the band and James Ford, adjunct music instructor, will direct the band.

Ford has 30 years of experience in the Marine Corps band and was Bartram’s choice for band director because of his leadership and experience. During his 30 years with the Corps, Ford directed bands around the world, according to Bartram.

“I have long thought we needed a pep band,” said Bartram. “In order to do it right, we need a faculty director.”

To have the administration and faculty back the band is necessary for it to be a success, and, according to Bartram, the administration is supportive of the idea all the way up to President Rick Hurley.

“I think its presence at basketball games adds excitement and spirit to the Anderson Center and creates an enjoyable experience for everyone who attends,” said Hurley.

“The idea has been percolating for several years, but we have never had the resources in place until now,” said Bartram.

Faculty organizers and the funding to purchase the equipment are important resources necessary for the band to begin. The band will be entirely funded by the institution. Students will not have to pay, and they will be provided with uniforms and special instruments when needed, according to Bartram.

The total cost, according to Bartram, will depend on the size of the band and the number of instruments needed.

President Hurley gave the band an allotted annual budget to be overseen through the athletic administration, according to Bartram.

Hurley estimates an annual cost of $5,000 for the band.

The pep band will also be given a “modest amount of start-up funding to purchase equipment and uniforms,” said Bartram.

Bartram underlines that he and Ford will keep an eye on spending.

“Jim Ford and I are mindful of spending, and we asked for no extravagant expenditures, only the minimal amount to get the band up and running,” said Bartram.

Vice President for Student Affairs Doug Searcy and Athletics Director Ken Tyler have also been involved in the process of organizing the pep band. Bartram and Ford did not want to create the pep band without the support of the athletic director.

The band will perform at home basketball games and other campus events.

Bartram and Ford are in the process of recruiting players. They already have around 20 students interested in playing, but they would like to have a band of around 25 to 30 students.

The pep band will also have a drumline, according to Bartram.

“It adds a layer of possibility to the band to have a ‘pull-out’ drumline,” said Bartram.

Bartram and Ford also hope that if the basketball teams’ season progresses into a post-season that the band will be able to travel with the teams to their tournaments.

The band will have three rehearsals before their first performance at the home basketball game on Dec. 1.

Ford is also interested in writing the first fight song for UMW.

“I am interested in writing a fight song, but I would like input on words from students, faculty and staff,” said Ford.

Along with the band, Bartram and Ford are also trying to recruit vocalists to sing the National Anthem before the games.

Tryouts for the pep band will be Saturday, Nov. 10 and Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2:30 p.m. in Pollard Hall room 127, according to Ford. Drumline will only have auditions on Sunday.

Students do not need to schedule a time for an audition, but they can contact Ford if they would like to.

The tryouts are not limited to music majors; however Ford is looking for “musicians that can play to a certain standard.”

Students are asked to bring their instrument, but music is not required because it will be provided.

Junior theater major Chelsea Raitor thinks the pep band could boost school spirit.

“It gets students to feel good about something even if they are not in a sport,” said Raitor. “Our school needs pride.

Senior business major Peter Brig disagrees.

“I think it would be kind of obnoxious to be honest,” said Brig.