“We have seen growth in almost every section of the band from last year’s band, including about 120 new freshmen,” said Steve Barnett, Marshall’s Director of Bands and Professor of Music.
Barnett said he is excited about the growth of the band program, but he admits that numbers are not his top priority.
“I have always been more concerned about the character and quality of the students that we recruit to be in the band,” Barnett said. “I am very proud of the reputation that the Marching Thunder has built on a national level in the last few years – both in the quality of performance and in the citizenship.”
Last year, after the band left the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl game in Detroit, Barnett received comments from the manager of the hotel where the band stayed.
“The manager said that we were the best behaved group they had ever had there,” Barnett said. “Comments like that are what we strive for and make me very proud to be associated with these fine young ladies and gentlemen. I would take them anywhere without hesitation as ambassadors for Marshall University.”
Barnett said he is looking forward to the upcoming season. “We have had a great band camp and are getting ready for our first performance at the first home game on Sept. 10 against West Virginia University,” he said. “We are excited about a great season and the opportunity to be the ‘center of game-day spirit’ at the home football games.”
In addition to football game performances, the Marching Thunder will be the feature band and perform in exhibitions at the Black Walnut Festival in Spencer, W.Va.; the Spring Valley Marching Festival in Wayne County, W.Va.; and the Kanawha County Band and Majorette Festival in Charleston. On the Huntington campus, they also will host Band Day on Sept. 25 and the annual Tri-State Marching Festival on Nov. 6, which is the largest marching festival in the state and in the region.