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Archive for Friday, October 9, 2009

On the march

October 9, 2009

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After some meager years, it’s great to see the Marching Jayhawks continuing to increase both in numbers and excellence.

Over the last three years, the band has almost doubled in size. It has been a steady increase from 150 members in 2006 to 175 in 2007 to 240 last year and 285 members this year. Scott Weiss, director of bands at Kansas University, also points out that the band boasts the flashy presence of 22 tubas when it takes the field at Memorial Stadium.

The band has drawn some important financial support from a fund established just over a year ago by Sue and Dana Anderson, KU alums who live in Los Angeles, who made a $100,000 gift to endow a permanent fund to benefit the band. A couple of months later, it was announced that Alan Riedel of Garden City had made estate plans that would leave an additional $200,000 to the fund. Such generous gifts are important to the long-term future of the marching band.

When the two major gifts were announced, Weiss noted that although the band has money to fund its day-to-day operations, it often is hard to come up with money for instruments, uniforms and scholarships. A winning football program may be the best recruiting tool for the Marching Jayhawks, but it’s also helpful to be able to offer more scholarships for band members willing to spend the time necessary to rehearse and perform on the university’s behalf.

Congratulations to Weiss, who has worked hard to forge relationships with high school band directors across the state as part of his recruiting for the marching band. Clearly his efforts, coupled with some generous donations and an exciting football squad, are paying off.

A special drive was necessary a few years ago to raise the money for the uniforms the band now wears. When the new outfits were ordered in 2004, it may have seemed excessive to purchase 300 uniforms. Now it looks as if the Marching Jayhawks may reach or even exceed that uniform supply.

Watching the colorful band running down the steps and onto the field in Memorial Stadium and returning to the field for the half-time show still is a highlight of any football game on Mount Oread. Thanks to all those who have given new life to such a wonderful KU tradition.

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