The University of South Alabama campus will soon be filled with the sounds of brass, woodwinds and percussion instruments played by students preparing to entertain and perform during half-time at the Jaguar Football games, which will begin fall 2009.
The USA Board of Trustees recently voted unanimously to support NCAA-sanctioned football and a marching band program at the University.
USA will soon begin the search for an assistant director of bands, who will serve as the marching band director and work with other music ensembles, along with teaching some classes. The new marching band director is expected to be hired by August of 2008.
Dr. Greg Gruner, chair of the department of music and director of bands in the College of Arts and Sciences at USA, knows first-hand what it’s like to lead a college marching band. He served as marching band director for Ball State University from 1990-1993 and was a high school marching band director from 1981-1989.
“The faculty and staff in the USA music department are excited about the prospect of a marching band at USA,” Gruner said. “Ultimately, the marching band will enhance other music programs at the University.”
Gruner received his bachelor of music education degree from New Mexico State University, his master of music education degree from Indiana University School of Music, and a doctor of arts in music degree from Ball State University School of Music.
His junior high, high school and collegiate ensembles have been recognized for their excellence in performance at both the regional and national levels.
He’s thrilled about the marching band program being added to the music ensembles at USA. Gruner has worked with USA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Pat C. Covey to create a five-year cost analysis budget for the marching band program.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Dr. Gruner, who has a tremendous background as a former marching band director,” Covey said. “We are pleased that the marching band program will be created at USA. We have a plan in place to fund the program appropriately.”
Covey said the cost analysis includes funding for a 125-member band, with a plan to increase to 200 members over a five-year period. The analysis includes funding for student scholarships, band uniforms, travel and other program needs.
“The new marching band program will bring academically and musically talented students to USA, enriching not only our campus, but also the Greater Mobile community,” Covey said.
Gruner said students will have to audition and compete for the marching band scholarships based on talent.
“We want the new marching band director to have one year to build the program,” Gruner said, “We will be looking for someone who has a proven track record and has experience in a public school environment. Work on the collegiate level will be a plus.”
The new marching band at USA will join other music ensembles, such as the symphony band, jazz, percussion, flute choir, basketball pep band, chamber music, piano and guitar. With the addition of a marching band and other music offerings, USA is developing the whole person, according to Gruner.
“All student activities, including the marching band will enhance a student’s experience as a member of our academic community at USA,” Gruner explained. “I always enjoyed the marching band and all other ensembles of music. The marching band motivates and encourages students to be their best in academics and music."