72-Year-Old Does Not Make the FSU Marching Chiefs

Update: Eyewitness News
August 15, 2014

72 year old Graham Shaw tried out for the Florida State University Marching Chiefs Friday morning, but unfortunately he didn't make the cut.
Shaw tried out at FSU, but didn't make it past the audition. He said " It's been fun. I have a great amount of respect for cymbal players and all percussionists.One of the current cymbal players told me my visuals were better than hers." He said it was a fun experience, and he's looking forward to playfully throwing his wife into the Wescott fountain to celebrate her birthday.

By: Lanetra Bennett
July 28, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - They say it's never too late to follow your dreams. That dream for one man, is being an FSU Marching Chief -- at age 72!

Graham Shaw graduated from FSU in 1964. But, couldn't be in the marching band back then because he played violin.

He says he and his old college roommate vowed to learn a new instrument and try out for the Chiefs when they retire. His friend died of brain cancer in 2000 just two days before his 57th birthday. Shaw says he decided to learn a new instrument and try out for the Chiefs in his friend's honor.

He started self-teaching on the cymbals in April by watching online videos. In June, he started driving from the Panama City area to Tallahassee once a week to take lessons with Marching Chiefs percussionist Tucker Simonton .

He says, "I would love to march for the Chiefs. I don't want to just try out. I'd like to make it. That's a high mountain, I know. But, it's something I aspire to. It'd be a dream."

The band director says the percussion unit is the toughest to get into, saying 50 percent who try out don't make it.

Shaw says he doesn't expect to be cut any slack. "I'm relishing the challenge." He says.

Shaw says he was surprised by all of the support he's gotten from members of the Marching Chiefs. "I thought they'd be saying, oh, we don't want you, get out of here, you have no business of even trying out."

In fact, it was Simonton who reached out to Shaw and offered to help him tryout by giving him the lessons.

Simonton says, "His rate of improvement, how fast he's gotten better is phenomenal. It has blown my mind in some ways. He works hard. He learns things really, really quickly, faster than I ever learned them."

Marching chiefs tryouts begin August 15th. There are multiple levels of cuts. Auditions are closed sessions.

Shaw has to meet all criteria as all students auditioning.

Age is not a factor. Shaw qualifies to audition because he has been admitted to FSU under special status as a non-seeking degree student. He and his wife both plan to take courses in Creative Writing. The couple is in the process of getting an apartment in Tallahassee.

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