FAMU band director Julian White doesn’t plan to march to the beat of a different drum when the school starts playing Division 1-A schools next year.
Despite the changes at football games in terms of competition and crowds, the band does not intend to changes its performances.
“We’re going to stick to what we do,” White said.
Although the schedule has not been finalized yet, it is likely that FAMU will play schools like Oklahoma and Nebraska whose bands entertain differently than the “100” do at halftime.
White said the band offers a variety of music and can choose a selection that would be appropriate depending on the setting.
Keisha Williams, who plays the piccolo in the Marching 100, is looking forward to the change [with playing different bands] and an opportunity to branch out.
“As a band, we are going to play [and add] more march tunes to our repertoire,” said the 19-year-old sophomore elementary education student from Miami.
In addition to hip-hop songs and dance, the band incorporated more march tunes like “Stars and Stripes Forever” to appeal to a broader audience. Dance routines are carefully screened so they are not offensive and he also said that band routines would have to be shorter due to NCAA regulations according to White.
“We will have to refocus our shows to get the most out of a smaller amount of time,” White said. White also mentioned the routines would go from 15 minutes to seven minutes by switching formations faster.
White said Division 1-A schools have been impressed with the band so far. Instead of going in at halftime, the University of Miami football players did not exit the field last year so that they could watch the band perform. This year the University of Florida has invited them back to perform at their homecoming.
Certain members of the band did express regret that they will not play as often in front of other HBCU’s.
“We’ll miss the level of competition,” Jessie Boyce said.
Boyce, a drum major for the 100, said it is different playing in front of a Division 1-A school compared to an HBCU.
“The band receives constant attention at an HBCU where as they only get it at halftime at Division 1-A schools,” said Boyce, a junior architecture student from Marietta Ga. “Other HBCU’s challenge the Marching 100 to perform at its best.”
White said the band was ecstatic playing in front of 90, 000 people as opposed to 25, 000 at most HBCU’s, but would continue to compete in the Battle of the Bands as it has done in the past.
White also consented that playing at HBCU’s is different in terms of expectations and knows his staunchest critics.
“Bragg Stadium is our toughest crowd.”