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Updated 11:00 AM November 1, 2004




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Spotlight: Marching together

Revelli Hall, home of the Michigan Marching Band, is a place imbued with an atmosphere that spans generations. Pictures and memorabilia from years past speak of a time-honored tradition, one that is brought firmly into the present by the vitality that fills the hall as hundreds of band members file in for their daily practice.
(Photo by Belinda Carter)

As the strains of music waft through the air, Maggie St. Clair, administrative assistant for the band, is working with her staff to take care of all of the minute details that come with coordinating the activities of more than 400 people. Budget reports, travel and lodging arrangements for away trips, and the upcoming dinner for band members and their parents all are handled efficiently as the students practice their repertoire.

This year marks St. Clair's 18th season with the band, and she knows the place inside out. Band members know that she's the one to go to when they have questions, such as the itinerary of their next away trip.

But she is more than just their reference person cum administrator. "She's our mom; everybody loves her," says Dennis Lee, the drum major. "She works behind the scenes and does it so well that all we have to worry about is performing."

St. Clair's work continues well into the weekend during football Saturdays. Just before a game starts, she dons her uniform and marches with the band from Revelli Hall to the stadium.

St. Clair is in her element here. As the band plays "Let's Go Blue" in perfect unison, she stays ahead of the line, communicating with the director, drum major and other staff members through her headset, making sure that the band gets from point A to point B.

At the stadium, she helps the band members "load the tunnel," until they emerge onto the field to the crowd's delight. St. Clair then stays in the background, coordinating and making sure everything goes according to plan, as the band entertains the crowd.

St. Clair used to work at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. "I was looking for a more part-time job so I could have more time with my family," St. Clair says. But the band grew, and she found herself spending a lot more time at her new job.

"I helped develop the annual giving program called the Elbel Club. Students then had to provide their own instruments and we didn't have enough uniforms," St. Clair says. Today, the band not only provides its members with these items, it also has scholarships for some students.

The band members and its directors make her job feel like a home away from home. "It's like a big family atmosphere; there's unbelievable camaraderie between the students," she says. "I've worked with five directors, and each of them has added a little of himself to the band. After you get involved in this organization, it becomes a passion."

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