“New York Times” Gets In On The Drum Line

Jul 23rd, 2008 // 7 Comments

Band2.jpgGood 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.

Camp Leads a Drumbeat for a Marching Band’s Style [NYT]
[Photo via Florida A & M]


  1. How do I say this ... THROWDINI!

    Still, we like to think of this as one of the few sectors of the music world that is growing instead of shrinking.

    I know/assume you’re kidding, since this isn’t really music that people passively listen to, is it? That being said, the shows that those bands put on are unbeliveably cool and fun to watch. Hell, they’re usually better than the football games at which they’re played.

    /still not watching Drumline.

  2. Anonymous

    This seems like as good a reason as any to post Bethune Cookman’s band playing Pastor Troy.

  3. GhostOfDuane

    Meanwhile, in a parallel universe…

  4. Defenestrated

    It’s nice to see these programs still be successful in this day and age, and it brought a smile to this former marching geek’s face.

    On the other hand, it also reminded me how my alma mater’s program has gone to complete shit in the past few years.

  5. Maura Johnston

    I love Drumline.

  6. How do I say this ... THROWDINI!

    @Maura Johnston: I’m sure you love Drumline, many people do. But an ex-girlfriend made me watch “You Got Served,” or some other such movie of the genre, and that was enough for me to take affirmative steps to avoid such movies in the future. So no Drumline or Step Up 2: The Street for me.

  7. The Illiterate

    When I was at the movies this weekend, there was an ad for the drumline championships, which are going to be broadcast in theaters around the country. It’s obviously become a very big deal.

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