Mississippi State University’s Famous Maroon Band has always been huge, but this year the band is the largest it has ever been with a record-breaking 420 members.
Elva Kaye Lance, the Director of Bands at MSU, is pleased with the high retention of members in the band.
“It’s very good that there is still this much interest in the band,” Lance said. “We have 255 returning members, and enrollment in the university has kept us going at a good pace.”
Lance, who joined the band faculty in 1992 and became an Assistant Director before becoming Director of Bands in 2002, said she is content with the band’s current size.
“It’s certainly a team effort here, and it makes work a lot of fun,” Lance said. “As for the size of the band, I think we’re comfortable with the current size it is now, and we don’t think it needs to get any bigger. We have a budget for uniforms, resources, and space.”
Not only is the band full of many talented musicians, it also houses a great deal of academic talent, as the average GPA of a player is 3.4 or higher, along with an average ACT score of 27 or higher, Lance said.
“A lot of our members here are strong leaders, and veteran players with amazing musical talent,” Lance said. “We have 16 valedictorians on the team along with 10 salutatorians as well.”
Gwyen Sutphin, a senior band member studying business information systems, said band members and directors work very hard on preparing upcoming performances, especially football game halftime shows.
“We are very efficient with what we are doing during rehearsal, and our directors are very good with making sure we accomplish everything we need to do each day,” Sutphin said. “We do several halftime shows, and it takes a while to learn each one. So, my hat is off to them for their patience and encouragement while helping us look and perform our best.”
Sutphin has known since seventh grade that she wanted to be part of the Famous Maroon Band, and now that she is graduating soon, she wants to make the absolute most out of this final year of performing.
“Being part of the band is a dream come true,” Sutphin said. “Graduation is fast approaching, but I will have so many wonderful memories from the time I spent here, and I’ve enjoyed the experience to the fullest. To the freshmen, enjoy your time marching on the field, the trips and the special treats as much as you can! You will make so many great memories and friends for life. Don’t blink, the time will fly by.”
Maggie Robinson, a senior band member studying elementary education, has thoroughly enjoyed her time in the Famous Maroon Band, and highly encourages any incoming freshman to give the band a shot.
“The most memorable experience I've had with the Famous Maroon Band was the first time I stepped onto the field at Davis Wade Stadium. I participated in the Famous Maroon Band Marching Honor Band all four years of high school, so when I became a member myself, it was such a surreal experience,” Robinson said. “The first SEC game of my freshman year was the loudest game I've ever heard. They are not kidding when they tell you to use your earplugs! Since I’ve been in marching bands going on eight years now, you get used to the noise and excitement of the game, it's all just so much fun.”
This is Robinson’s last year in the band, and she said will never forget the time she has spent performing.
“I will forever cherish the memories and friendships I have made these past few years,” Robinson said. “We get the opportunity to interact with Dr. Keenum, Joe Moorhead, the football team and John Cohen, as well as travel to every bowl game. We also get the privilege of traveling to an SEC game with the pep band every year. It’s pretty neat knowing that I am, and was, in the largest band in university history; it’s so comforting walking around campus and seeing so many familiar faces, as we’re the largest student group in the university.”