The University Record, September 18, 1995

Band participation more than marching, making music

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

Soundtracks and scores from movies held a particular fascination for him as a kid. When he asked his parents what instrument made a particular sound in one of those scores, they told him it was the trombone. So that’s the instrument he decided to play; and that’s the instrument his parents bought for him.

But when he got to the sixth grade and heard the band instructor play the French horn, Jeff Grogan suddenly realized that it was not the sound of the trombone in the movies that had caught his attention, but that of the French horn. Grogan changed instruments.

And so the career of U-M’s interim Marching Band director was born. In his capacity as band director and visiting assistant professor in the School of Music, Grogan not only keeps tabs on the 370 members of the band, the largest in U-M history, but also teaches conducting and directs concert groups in the School of Music.

A good friend of former Marching Band Director Gary Lewis, who left U-M last spring to take a position with another Big Ten institution, Grogan was no stranger to the U-M band when he arrived on campus in July. While at U-M working on a master’s degree in conducting and French horn, Grogan came to consider Lewis and H. Robert Reynolds, director of bands at U-M, his mentors. He still does.

Grogan says participating in the U-M Marching Band does more for the students than hone their musical skills. It is a training ground for leadership, he says. “The whole operation depends on the students and their ability to lead.”

Members of the marching band function as section and rank leaders, assisting in the teaching of music and marching drills. Students are responsible for getting musical arrangements into computers; maintaining the library containing thousands of scores, arrangements and other sheet music; and for attending to the ever-present, always necessary paperwork that accompanies any organization of this size. In addition, students make up the equipment staff, maintaining uniforms and instruments for performances at home and concert tours.

This year’s marching contingent is comprised of students from across the University, with about 35 percent coming from the College of Engineering and 55 percent from LS&A. “Approximately 5 percent are music majors,” Grogan says.

The campus community will have an opportunity to hear and see the Concert, Symphonic and Marching bands Oct. 21, when all three take the stage at Hill Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. for the annual Band-O-Rama. Reserved seating tickets are available for $8 by mail and can be obtained by sending a check and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Band-O-Rama, 1100 Baits Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2085. For more information, call 763-2556.

The Marching Band will present a concert in Crisler Arena at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 2. Tickets for this concert are $4, $3 for children under age 11. Groups of 20 or more can obtain tickets at $3 each. Tickets can be obtained by sending a check and self-addressed, stamped envelope to Michigan Marching Band, 350 E. Hoover St., Ann Arbor, MI 48103-3707. For additional information, call 764-0582.