Will ‘Presidential Nine’ grow?

The first football game of the season will be against Delaware State University, and the field is clear to make way for the Marching 100.

The FAMU drum majors, better known as the “Presidential Nine,” will walk on field to signal the band and hype up the crowd.

But with the arrival of president-elect James Ammons as the University’s 10th president, does this mean a new drum major will join the lineup, as tradition has established?

“As of right now we are not looking to add a 10th drum major,” said Julian White, director of bands and chairperson of the department of music. “If we were to decide on adding an additional drum major, it will strictly be by recommendation.”For Head Drum Major Shaun West, a public administration graduate student from Tallahassee, adding a new drum major will strictly be cosmetic.

“Drum majors are more than just a figure head – it will only be symbolic,” West, 24, said. “It (a new drum major) wouldn’t be critical to the operation of the marching band. Therefore, I am neutral to a new one.” In 2004, after years of being known as the “8 Wonders of the World,” White, a former drum major, came up with the idea to add a ninth drum major per the installment of the ninth president.

“I implemented a ninth drum major when Gainous became president to honor the past contributions of presidents,” White said. “I wanted to honor the rich tradition of Florida A&M University – hence the name the ‘Presidential Nine.’ “

Ammons said adding a new drum major will add extra value to his presidency.

“To have a drum major in the best band in the country representing the 10th president is just off the chart!” Ammons said. “I don’t want to put any pressure on Dr. White, but if they decide to do it, I will certainly be honored.”

Ammons said he first saw the band when he was in seventh grade, and ever since then he knew they were special.

“It (the band) has always been a special part of FAMU and being a Rattler,” he said. “One thing I’m looking forward to is seeing the first performance (of the Marching 100) as president of FAMU.”

But other former Rattlers are not as excited at the possibility of another drum major.

FAMU alumnus and former band member Christopher Mumford said adding a new drum major would not be the best idea.

“The amount of drum majors should be based on the number of members in the band instead of the number of presidents we’ve had,” said Mumford, a 26-year-old health care management graduate from Jacksonville. “Honestly, I think that the number should’ve stayed at eight because it was the right amount for the number of band members we had.”

Though the ‘100’ is not seeking a 10th drum major, prospective drum majors will audition in April to replace graduating members.