Every school’s crazy ‘bout a dressed band
By Kathryn Schiliro | Photos by Angelina Bellebuono
the mchs marching band knows how to bring the funk …
and after more than a decade of sweaty halftime shows, their uniforms do too.
Needs more cowbell! The MCHS marching band is raising funds for new uniforms. The current uniforms are 12 years old and made of a wool-polyester blend that is stifling in warmer weather.
The uniforms worn by the Morgan County High School Marching Bulldog Band are hitting a sour note – “sour” in the very literal sense of the word.
The 12-year-old uniforms are nearly as old as the students wearing them. Worse, the hats band members donned every Friday night are no less than 25 years old – that’s older than the students wearing them.
As the life of a marching band uniform is between seven and 10 years, the expiration dates of these uniforms and hats have long since come and passed.
The 105-member Bulldog Band is facing a real need for uniforms. Not only is the program expected to grow in coming years – there will be 15 seniors leaving at the end of the year, compared with 60 rising freshmen who Band Director Jeffrey Rowser expects will join the band – but they are also starting to attend competitions.
Rowser believes in taking his students to competition, something unheard of in past years. This fall, the band attended the Northeast Georgia Marching Exhibition, sponsored by the University of Georgia Redcoat Marching Band and Kappa Kappa Psi Fraternity, at Athens’ Cedar Shoals High School as well as the Creekview Classic in Canton last month.
“I like competition,” Rowser said. “I think it makes rehearsals more meaningful.”
The Creekview Classic saw the MCHS Bulldog Band rake in three “Superior” ratings – that’s the highest score given – for band, drum major and drum line. The color guard scored “Excellent.” MCHS Drum Major Mary Bryan individually received a second place award in Class AAA competition for her conducting skills.
Aside from competition, the Bulldog Band will march in Madison’s Christmas Parade, as usual, but Rowser is initiating a tradition of performing in other parades as well. This year, the MCHS band will also march in the Children’s Christmas Parade –benefitting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – on Dec. 3.
Rowser hopes to raise enough money for 175 complete uniforms. This will enable the program to accommodate the program’s growth –the middle school band program averages 200 to 250 students a year – and those students’ personal physical growth, from one uniform to a larger or taller one.
A wool-polyester blend, the current uniforms are well-made but just worn out, Rowser said. Despite a noble effort by the laundry service, some are stained, moldy and just plain funky, which puts them out of commission.
Uniforms made today are a cotton-polyester blend and the jackets can be purchased without a lining. This makes them much more appropriate for the South, where it doesn’t get cold until the very end of the marching season. By then, band members can layer clothes underneath the uniform.
After perusing catalogs with hundreds of uniform options, Rowser and the Bulldog Band are considering about three designs for the new uniforms. The trend now, Rowser said, is for the jackets to be multi-colored with different colored sleeves, so that varying effects can be added to shows. For example, when band members pass each other in blocks, a flashing effect could be created by throwing up one arm. The uniforms will keep the black uniform pants, because they’re “easy to replace and it’s a neutral color,” Rowser said.
Samples are being made and will be will be decided upon by Rowser as well as a student-parent committee.
Once the design is decided, band uniform companies will bid for the band’s business.
In the meantime, the Bulldog Band and Band Boosters have started fund-raising for the uniforms. They’ve set up a fund at the Bank of Madison, where they’ll display a uniform so that the community can see, up close, what the band currently wears. They’ve also circulated flyers asking for donations.
“I’m confident the community will get behind us because we are ambassadors for our small town,” Rowser said.
In addition to the uniforms, many of the instruments used by band members are about 20 to 25 years old and could use replacing too. Instruments qualify as an instructional cost, so Rowser will approach the county Board of Education about new instruments in the future.
It is Rowser’s hope to acquire new uniforms and instruments before next year’s marching season, so the Bulldog Band can debut their year with a revamped look.
“The parents are raising money for the uniforms and if the Board of Education will continue to fund the instruments,” Rowser said, “I hope this will come in tandem.”
A timeline of MCHS Marching Bulldog Band uniform purchases
1987 The Marching Bulldogs sport their new shakos at the Madison Bicentennial. These hats are still in use today. Vintage clothing can be chic… but vintage shakos are more like vintage gym socks.
Early ‘90s The Marching Bulldogs get new uniforms (pictured at right, 1999.)
1997 It will be many more years before Anne Miller is a member of the MCHS Marching Bulldogs. No worries, the ‘87 shakos await her.
1999 The Bulldogs march one final year in the uniforms emblazoned with ‘Morgan’ across their chest. The Tuell siblings, Mitch, a junior, Sara Lydia, last year’s drum major and now a freshman in college, and Hogan, a freshman at MCHS, all are members of the Marching Bulldogs. They all get to rock the ‘87 shakos.
2000 The 104-member band debuts the current uniforms. The total? $45,000, and it took them 10 years to raise those funds. The halftime show this year features music from “The Sound of Music.” But... no new shakos.
2012 The Marching Bulldogs debut new uniforms, and by golly, new shakos.
(We sure hope so.)
Catch the MCHS Bulldog Band in action this holiday season!
Dec. 3 The Children’s Christmas Parade in
Atlanta, 10:30 a.m. to noon. Broadcasted live on WSB-TV Channel 2.
Dec. 10 Madison Christmas Parade
Dec. 12 Bulldog Band’s Holiday Concert
Can you help “Dress a Band Student?”
Think about making a contribution to the Morgan County Band Boosters. You can purchase a full uniform for $375; uniform jacket, $200; uniform pants, $100; or uniform hat with plume, $75. Or send in any amount!
Make checks payable to “Morgan County Band Boosters” and mail or drop them off at: Bank of Madison, P.O. Box 271, Madison, GA 30650, or MCHS c/o Band Boosters, 1231 College Drive, Madison, GA 30650. Please include your name, address and phone number.
Printed in the November 24, 2011 edition