By Randall Leclerc
A new addition to the extracurricular activities has appeared this fall on campus. Fitchburg State University now has its very own Falcons Marching Band program. Fully run by students, the band received funding for its first year, but they have their work cut out for them.
They started unofficially last fall, but formed too late in the fiscal year to receive funding. This gave them time to build numbers, but the marching band is still obviously in its infancy. The number of students participating stands at only 15-20 members so far, mainly composed of percussion.
This gives them excellent numbers for a drum line but not a full band, with numerous instruments missing including trumpets, trombones, and clarinets. In addition, the percussion equipment has seen better days. Gregory Leclerc, treasurer for the marching band, predicts the drums are decades old: “We looked inside some of the cases, and most of the drums were wrapped in newspapers dated 1974/1975.”
The age of the equipment isn’t the only problem. The school is also missing drum harnesses, meaning budgeting will have to prioritize buying them, with miscellaneous repairs coming second. As of now, the marching band uniform consists of jeans or khaki pants with a colored shirt adorned with a falcon logo.
The marching band had to challenge the Student Government Association in order to receive initial funding for the year. The first attempt fell flat when they were denied over what appears to be miscommunication about where equipment would be stored. They appealed and won their case.
As for why they chose to create a marching band from scratch, Leclerc said: “Students that want to do marching band after high school will not pick FSU because of that; they end up going to UMass Lowell instead. Lowell’s band is extremely skilled, so people that don’t want to go that far are out of luck.”
Considering that North Middlesex, Fitchburg, Leominster, and other local high schools all have marching band programs, it makes sense to offer those students a chance to continue doing what they love without moving far from home. “If we had an active marching band, we’d have a hell of a lot more people coming here.”
As for how they plan to proceed: “We have enough resources to formally start winter percussion for now. Once that gets off the ground, we’ll be in a better place to focus on the entire band.”
For now, the marching band plans to make due with what they have, with little more than basic funding and confidence.
Those interested in asking more information or joining the band can reach manager Sarah Niemi at email@example.com.