Franklin Pierce University is launching its first-ever marching band, hoping to be ready to perform for the fall sports season 2022.
“I tell the students this is their chance to be a part of Franklin Pierce’s very first marching band,” said George Robinson, the current school marching band principal and future marching band leader in his new role. created director of sports bands. “I hope they can then come back to that and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I remember, I was one of the first. “
The idea of starting a marching band arose when the school created its soccer team in 2019, according to music teacher Lou Bunk, who helped form the marching band.
“When we created a football team, the sports director came to me and asked if we could have music during the matches,” he said. They decided to form the pep band at the time – pep bands are made up of a small group of students, around 10.
“And it went really well,” Bunk said. “As it progressed we came back to this idea of a marching band.”
Despite the university’s small size, he said they thought they might well run a marching band and build on the success of the “small but mighty” marching band.
The idea has already sparked enthusiasm among students, according to Robinson, including students who are already part of the pep’s group.
“I have a few students in my pep group who really enjoyed being in a marching band when they were in high school,” Robinson said. “So now that there’s a marching band coming in, I’ve had a few people tell me how excited they are.”
The first order of business is recruiting, so Robinson’s main focus is on building that enthusiasm and finding more musicians.
“One of our main goals is to bring more people, more musicians, to campus,” he said.
Robinson has previously exchanged emails with incoming freshmen, incoming transfer students, and current Franklin Pierce students regarding their membership. There is an online application, he said, and involves students checking in while playing. He also plans to contact the directors of high school groups across New England and schedule times to go talk about the group.
Robinson also plans to possibly start rehearsals in the spring, if recruiting goes well. He said he would write music and also design performances.
“We’re just full steam ahead,” Robinson said. “I’m the type of person who is more successful when I’m busy, so I don’t mind. “
The marching band will be a little different than some other schools, according to Robinson. He said that could mean leaning more into popular music that audiences and teams will recognize, as well as “cooler” uniforms compared to traditional marching band uniforms.
“We’re not going to take ourselves too seriously,” Robinson said. “We’re going to take our music seriously, and we’re going to have a great time, and I’m so excited. “
These differences will be representative of the school’s differences from others, Bunk said.
“Considering our size as a small liberal arts college, I think that’s going to make it very unique,” he said. It’ll be smaller, for one – they’re hoping for 15-20 this year, and ideally up to 50, as opposed to the traditional 150-200 at a big school.
“It’s going to have a different feel, and I think that feel is really going to match the feel of Franklin Pierce,” Bunk said. “Rather than they fit into the pattern of a marching band, we think a marching band will fit into the Franklin Pierce model.”
The spirit of collaboration in this endeavor is also representative of the school, Bunk said, between academics, the music program and the athletics department. Everyone on campus is welcome if they know how to play an instrument, whatever their specialty. The same goes for a scholarship already set up for the fanfare, the only condition of which is participation in the fanfare.
“It’s kind of a testament to the open and cross-campus nature of this business,” Bunk said.
The future of the program, said Robinson, is hopefully bright. While his primary focus is building a squad for the fall sports season, he sees the potential to do a lot more.
“I see the marching band as an opportunity to be a sort of ambassador for the Monadnock region,” he said. This includes reaching out to local groups in schools and participating in municipal parades across the region.
“If we can attract enough interested students, and if it all works the way we think it does, then we could talk about it for a while,” he said.