They came from far and wide with a desire to be part of something larger than themselves, wanting to learn and grow from those who have come before.
Drawn by a long tradition of innovation and a history of acclaim, nearly 300 young musicians participated in the 2017 Florida A& M University band camp.
“The Marching 100 is very well noted as an outstanding marching machine,” said Dr. Shelby Chipman, director of bands at FAMU. “The summer band camp is a component that came about 25 years ago, conceived by the band members at that time to provide a comprehensive instrumental and leadership program for middle and high school students.”
Chipman is part of a legacy that began in 1946 and, as the fourth band director in FAMU’s history, he has a deep understanding of the generational aspect of the program. “I was in the Marching 100 and I went on to become a high school band director in Miami. Every year my students participated in this camp.” Chipman joined the FAMU band staff in 1998 and took over as director two years ago.
Benjamin Eubank, band director at Royal Palm Beach High School in West Palm Beach, followed a similar trajectory. He attended FAMU’s band camps as a kid and later became a student at the university and a member of the Marching 100. He now volunteers during the camp and several of his high school students are campers. “Coming here and them hearing from someone else the same things I say every day, my students are like, ‘Oh, well he must know what he’s talking about.’ It reinforces the teaching I’ve done throughout the year,” said Eubank.
During the weeklong camp, students gain considerable knowledge from 25 resident and visiting staff members and high school band directors that hail from all over the country. Campers participate in a full marching band and perform in a half time style show. There are also three concert bands and a drum major leadership clinic. While designed to help musicians become technically proficient, the camp also places a strong emphasis on character.
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