The 2016 college marching season has already started with a bang. A HUGE bang.
That bang represents the increase in band sizes across the country.
The Anniston Star is reporting that the Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners will have 533 members this fall.
“We’ve been over 400 members for several years now, but this is the largest we’ve ever had,” said Ken Bodiford, Director of the Marching Southerners.
450 of those members will march on the field while the others will join the band in the stands. The band only has the budget to take 9 busses of students to away games, so that's how they settled on 450, but Bodiford felt it was important to give the rest of the students a chance to also be part of the band.Down in the sunshine state, the University of Florida Gator Marching Band is fielding their largest band in the history of the program.
Director of the Gator Band, Jay Watkins, told us that they will march 365 this fall and that this year the "bands are strong in Florida." Last year they marched around 320.
Meanwhile the Marching Illini had over 400 prospective members audition for the band. With 275 returnees, that puts the interest in being in this year's band at nearly 700 strong. The band will make their finals cuts this week bringing the total down to a more manageable number.
"Bands are recruiting across the country and high school kids today are seeing college band as an activity that they absolutely have to participate in," said Michael Barasch, founder of CollegeMarching.com. "We've seen here in our own community an explosion of interest from young musicians. They are marching in fabulous high school programs that have readied them for college."
Purdue is also looking large at 450+
"With the social media boom, high school marchers are seeing first hand what it's like to be in a college band and how much fun it is literally every day of their lives," said Barasch.
"That's a huge change from even 5 years ago and the numbers are only going to keep going up."
JSU Southerners photo via @gseitz
Gator Band photo via Howard Lin