Good NYT piece today by Samuel G. Freedman, who reports on the spike in enrollment for Florida A&M University’s summer band camp, in which some 450 students compete for a spot in the school’s famed drumline corps the Marching 100. It’s an illuminating look at how stylized marching bands are continuing their work into the digital age, and often enhanced by it. (Students like the Seattle teenager Freedman centers his story around often get into the camp after seeing the Marching 100 online.) It’s also got some intriguing numbers:
When Dr. White began the summer camp 18 years ago, he expected to attract mainly African-American students from the Southeast. Not only has the enrollment soared to 450 from an initial 90, the geographical and racial range has expanded. . . .
Three busloads of campers came this summer from Michigan alone. Dozens of Hispanic and white teenagers have flocked to the program, including the archetypal slacker this summer who wore a T-shirt explaining, “I’m Probably Late.”
Of course, anyone who’s seen the Nick Cannon flick Drum Line (which is mentioned here several times: Florida A&M was the inspiration for the movie’s main troupe) is aware that numbers are crucial to these teams’ success. Still, we like to think of this as one of the few sectors of the music world that is growing instead of shrinking.