For six days each July, Florida A&M University’s vaunted Marching 100 puts eager teens through their paces. This year’s Marching 100 Summer Band Camp was no different. Middle and high-school students faced a rigorous rehearsal schedule and saw up-close how the Marching 100 functions, before performing live on FAMU’s “The Set” and Bragg Memorial Stadium.
Clarinet player C.J. Volaire, 14, from Miramar, FL saysa typical day at camp starts with 5:00 a.m breakfast, before marching practice, lunch and then two more practice sessions. She said she had expected a more strenuous time, but that bug bites made focusing harder. “I actually thought camp was going to be a lot harder because I heard it was very over bearing,” Volarie said. “The one thing I didn’t expect were the insects crawling up my body and biting away at my skin while on the practice field.”
Volarie said the extra practices and effort paid off. “You can’t stop because something gets hard. You have to keep going until you’re finished,” said Volarie who has been a clarinet player for four years. She said she would recommend FAMU’s band camp to others.
Not all the band campers had the same experience.
Fredrick Timothy, 17, from Atlanta, GA, says he was apprehensive about the camp and at first, told his parents he didn’t want to attend. After a month of considering and finding time off of work, Timothy decided to come. “The experience has really been worth it,” said Timothy, who jokes about shedding pounds and a darker complexion from long hours in summer heat.
Despite playing trombone for six years, Timothy says the marching band music was hard to grasp at first. Timothy plays by ear, and he says he had to practice catching the marching beats. “I’ve become a better musician; I have the Marching 100 to thank for that,” Timothy said.
Timothy will be starting his last year in high school in the fall. Timothy plans to attend FAMU and hopes to play for the Marching 100. He also says he will recommend FAMUs band camp when he returns back to school but will warn his peers about Tallahassee’s smothering heat.
Band president Brandon Cunningham said he is pleased about the success of this year’s band camp, citing unique training experience for the program’s continued success. “[Campers] gain knowledge and experience that you cannot get anywhere els,” said Cunningham. “I hope the campers have learned more about musicianship, creativity, how to network and of course had a good time.”
Cunningham said he is excited about the Marching 100’s plan for the fall, including a showdown with Southern University. The band expects 150 freshmen members to join the returning 240 members. “It will be the first time FAMU has played Southern University since 2007,” said Cunningham. “The Marching 100 will be putting on a show.”