Given that last week’s article on the state of Vanderbilt’s attendance was my debut post on this blog and as an aspiring writer, I naturally reached out to some of my friends for their thoughts and comments. A common piece of feedback I received was something along the lines of, “I thought the article was solid, but did you really have to call out the Vandy marching band like that?” followed by “What is wrong with you?”
I was probably out of line there. You all may start to notice that once I get started on a particular subject, it can be hard for me to stop, and there will occasionally be a casualty or two left behind once the pen has left the paper. The thing is, I’m so glad that Vandy has a marching band. Who else would play Dynamite?
My stance on the marching band is the same as my stance on the years Johnny McCrary or Matthew Moyer were getting substantial D1 minutes for us: It’s not their fault that they’re not the most talented individuals available. They’re still putting in the same blood, sweat, and tears behind the scenes that the stars are so that they can take the field on game day. What’s unfortunate, however, is that the sometimes disappointing performances you see out there are not ever a lack of effort or dedication from the players on the filed, but more so a sheer lack of personnel and resources.
Looking at the Spirit of Gold marching band website, it appears that the group largely consists of volunteers who try out for the program early in the school year. What many don’t know about the program, however, is that the band relies on musicians from not only Vanderbilt, but also Belmont, Lipscomb, Trevecca, and other local universities to fill out their sections. This could be why you’ll sometimes see an odd imbalance in the number of horns, woodwinds, etc in the band, simply because the team that takes the field at halftime are those combinations of instruments that have so generously offered their musical talents to represent your Commodores.
Does this reality result in our band’s songs often being drowned out by our SEC visitors, whose band members are full of scholarship students whose trumpets and trombones often overpower our clarinets and flutes? Yes. Will you see this break the spirit of one of Vanderbilt’s finest traditions, its fearless band? Absolutely not.
2021 brings another exciting opportunity for the band as they face a full football season for the first time in two years. Practices will be tough. The road will bring them away from loved ones. But when that 2nd quarter clock strikes quadruple 0s over at Dudley Field, you better believe that our crew is going to have a freshly minted cover of a current billboard top 50 or Classic Rock hit. If you’re ever complaining about not being able to hear them very well, I’d just encourage you to first put yourself in the shoes of a band member before casting any judgement, and then evaluate your own life because your seats clearly aren’t good enough.