by Cole Edwards
(Photos by Ritsuki Miyazaki)
All eyes may be on the Blazers at the start of the new football season, but the Blazin’ Brigade marching band is training to ensure that it is also ready for the upcoming football season.
“We want to have the effect that it would be obvious if we were not (at the game),” Eric Bradshaw, director of athletic bands, said.
The 157 members of the band began practicing during the summer to prepare for the season, beginning with the first football game versus Fort Valley in Macon on Sept. 7. The Blazers’ first home game is versus Shorter University on Sept. 21.
Bradshaw guides the band in giving the best performance possible at each game to help boost the energy of both the fans and the football team, as well as to add to the overall game experience.
“Our goal is to keep the crowd engaged during games so they’ll feel they are more involved than just watching,” Bradshaw said.
This year the band is focusing on more classical selections for the first two home games but plans to offer a history of American pop later in the season. The band will play songs ranging from the ‘70s disco classic “Stayin’ Alive” to Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.”
At last year’s national championship game, the marching band was noticed numerous times on ESPN and hopes to get that chance again this year.
“It’s helpful (that) we play for such a good football team,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw will be serving his twelfth year as the Blazin’ Brigade director.
Pursuing a degree in music is not a requirement to be in the band as long as a student has had prior experience in high school. Bradshaw encourages any student interested in joining to register for the concert band next semester.
A typical rehearsal lasts a couple of hours and consists of students working with their particular instrument sections before joining together as the full band. Although the abundant rain this year has made practicing a little more complex, the team usually meets three times a week on the front lawn.
“This allows for it not to be an all day, everyday thing, so students will still have time for other interests,” Bradshaw said.
Marching band is a different experience for each member, but incentives include meeting people with common interests and having a chance to travel to all of the games.
Be sure to check out the Blazin’ Brigade live on Sept. 21 at the Bazemore–Hyder Stadium as VSU’s football team takes on Shorter University.