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The Mountain Lion Pride Marching Band: From Elementary to University

By Laura Buchanan
On October 21, 2018

The Mountain Lion Pride Marching Band playing at Callaghan Stadium
Photo Courtesy of Laura Buchanan


For many, fall is football season. However, for a small few, fall is known as marching band season, and Concord University holds its own in bringing those rhythmic tunes to the field.
The familiar gray and maroon uniform makes the 22-person band a unified sound machine, but it takes hours of practice to get them to that place. Many began this journey as far back as elementary school when they first took an instrument in hand.
Under the direction of Dr. David Ball, the Concord University Mountain Lion Pride Marching Band starts marching season a week before the fall semester starts. For four days, band members will focus on learning their music and brushing up on the marching and music fundamentals they may have forgotten over the break. Once the fall term begins, the band meets four or five days a week for field work, weather permitting.  
Their hard work shows when they take the field to perform one of their two half-time shows.
With 66 sets in the first show, the band is in constant motion while playing music from the popular television show “Stranger Things,” among other tunes from pop culture.
Though small in numbers, Bally says their sound is that of a band twice the size due to focusing on “good fundamentals.” Ball explains marching band as bringing “concert band outside” by providing the same richness of sound and complexity of music.  
As the familiar tunes of “Rock you Like a Hurricane,” “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Whip It” play, band members are back stepping, dancing and doing other crowd pleasing maneuvers while simultaneously keeping in tune and staying in step. 
Their second field show will feature hits from the band Queen. “Fat Bottom Girls,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Under Pressure” and “Don’t Stop Me Now” are to be blasted across the field with approximately 80 sets in the show.   
However, judging from the smiles on various Pride members’ faces, it is apparent they enjoy the challenge. Over the course of the semester they will learn between 40 and 50 musical pieces for their various events.  
The marching band performs at all five University home games. These performances include stand tunes, pep tunes, the fight song, “Alma Mater” and the national anthem. They are also participating in five parades this semester.
Their first parade appearance was at the Beckley’s Kids Classic Festival, a weeklong event that brings art and entertainment to youth. There is basically a parade a month for the semester, with the recent homecoming parade in October and the Welch Veteran’s Day Parade in November. December will see the band at both Princeton’s Christmas Parade and at Manassas’ Christmas Parade. While in Manassas they will also be performing at the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
In addition to these, the band plays at the Commencement Ceremony, Spooktacular and Concord’s holiday open house. All of this amounts to a wide variety in music that allows for technical and stylistic growth and prevents the musicians from growing bored.
Despite the rigorous schedule and hours of practice, Ball says that college band is not “as much work as [you] remember,” because the fundamentals were learned prior to college. In college the objective of marching band shifts from learning how to read music and play an instrument to applying your knowledge. 
This sentiment is shared by Brent Cochran, Concord freshman and trombone player for the Lion Pride. Cochran says college marching band is different from his high school experience because “it’s more laid back” and everyone wants to be there. He says, “Why pay for it if you won’t try?”  
Ball explains that the band’s focus is on balancing organization, professionalism and fun while making students better musicians in the process. 
Marching band is open to all students, regardless of major, and for the past few years the band has waived the audition process that was once required. 
Ball remarked, “A school this size could have a band of 100.”
A smaller band presents certain challenges. For instance, the field shows require more work because there are fewer people to spread around. Positions such as drum major, color guard and twirlers have had to be cut because of the need to have as many instruments on the field as possible.    
Ball says generally if a student does not join band in their first semester at college, “They usually won’t ever join.” 
However, for students like Cochran, music is a part of life. “I wanted to keep music in my life somehow,” he said before heading to band practice. Cochran has already learned that though Concord’s band might be smaller than what he is used to, there is value in being a part of it.
There are many benefits to being in Concord University’s Mountain Lion Pride, one being money. Band members can be nominated for a $500 scholarship. Also, marching band counts as a fine arts credit, thus if you take it for three semesters, the fire arts component of general requirements can be completed. And for those who find that Greek life is not their thing, marching band offers a chance to make friends and be a part of the Concord community. Ball pointed out that you “get out of it as much or as little as you want.” 
Though college marching band may be different, it is not necessarily a bad different. Just as in high school, the band elicits school pride and pep no matter the color of the uniform. 


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