FAMU Interviewing Candidates For Band Director [SLIDE SHOW]

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By: Lanetra Bennett
April 10, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - The final candidate for the new band director position at FAMU says he has no doubt he's the person for the job.

Don Roberts has a list of nearly two dozen goals for FAMU's Marching 100. He presented it Wednesday during his interviews to try to become the new band director.

"I think I'm extremely qualified." He says.

His goals include: making the Marching 100 a premiere program again, monitoring and improving the retention rate of band members, and improving student leadership.

Regaining trust of the community and nation is a top objective for Roberts.

Roberts says, "People need to see us in terms of trust, not just on the field, because that part is going to be easy, for me because I feel like we're going to have a quality program; no doubt about that. But, off the field, that's where they have to see us. They've got to see us in those schools, in the community, civic organizations."

Music Department Chair Dr. Kawachi Clemons asked Roberts if he would follow tradition or do something new with the band.

Roberts said, "My goal from a show development is to give the audience the unexpected. I don't want them to ever be able to predict what we're going to do. I want them to run to halftime and say, what's going to happen this week, because we really don't know. As opposed to, yep, they're getting ready to do drills right now. Here comes that concert selection, here comes the dance routine. That's what I want to take away and create innovative concepts."

Just as they did the day before with the first band director candidate, Dr. Sylvester Young, FAMU administrators asked Roberts about his past experience in the Marching 100.

"Were you hazed as a member of the Marching 100? Yes, I was."

During his interviews Wednesday, Roberts told the university leadership team his plan to end hazing within the band.

He says as band director he would: require band members to sign an anti-hazing agreement, require members to attend workshops every week, not allow the band members to sit on the bus by sections, and a band staff member or traveling officer would sit front, center, and rear on all band trips.

Roberts adds in regards to rehearsals, "Most of the hazing that takes place in the bands is typically when the band director is not around in that section rehearsal, or private meetings. I would want all of my section rehearsals before band rehearsal starts so that it would be staff supervised."

Roberts brought 30 sketches of new uniforms for the Marching 100 for performance and travel. He says uniforms for rehearsals could also help with ending hazing.

He says, "The reason for that is you don't have to worry about the paraphernalia that everybody's wearing They wear that to rehearsal so that there's no focus on whatever your sectional name is... club name is."

Roberts says staff would be required to report any hazing incidents within 24 hours.

"I think it's all about accountability and that's what I would bring to the table and I would have a very strong stance in terms of anti-hazing." Says, Roberts.

Roberts is the Music Supervisor for the Dekalb County School District in Atlanta, Georgia.

FAMU Trustees are expected to discuss both final candidates during tomorrow's board meeting.

By: Lanetra Bennett
April 10, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Just as the leadership team did with the first candidate yesterday, administrators asked Roberts was he hazed when he was a member of the FAMU Marching 100. He answered by saying 'yes'.

Roberts told administrators that he would take a strong stance against hazing if he were to become the new band director. He says he would require all band section rehearsals to be supervised by staff. He says he would also get rid of subgroup names in the band.

By: Lanetra Bennett
April 10, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - The second of the two finalists to be FAMU's new band director has begun his day-long interviews.

Don Roberts is the music supervisor for the Dekalb County School District in Atlanta, Georgia.

Roberts lists 13 short term goals if he were to get the job. The top three are:

1. To once again make the FAMU Marching 100 one of the premier programs in America.

2. To regain the trust of the FAMU students, staff, administration, the City of Tallahassee, the State of Florida, and the nation as a band of high character and integrity.

3. To totally eradicate all forms of hazing, harassment and intimidation from the Florida A&M University Marching 100.
Long term goals include to create supplemental budget for scholarships through in-house fundraising and corporate sponsorship.

Roberts presented 30 sketches of possible new uniforms for the Marching 100.

Roberts is meeting with various department heads throughout the day.

He told the FAMU Music Department Chair, Dr. Kawachi Clemons, that he would not intimidated by directing/teaching on the collegiate level. Roberts' experience is with middle and high schools.

Roberts says he is very creative. When asked about show development, Roberts says the first thing he would have to do is show the public that the Marching 100 is still the "100." He says then they'll go into the innovative stage.
Roberts says he wants to "give the audience the unexpected."

Roberts says he is a leader and a team player. He says he genuinely wants to be at the university. Roberts is a FAMU graduate.

By: Lanetra Bennett
April 9, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - The first of FAMU's final two candidates for band director spent the day trying to convince the university why he's right for the job.

Eyewitness News was in today's interviews.

FAMU's Marching 100 is known for its music and its moves.

Dr. Kawachi Clemons, the FAMU Music Department Chair, asked, "Would you follow more of those traditional show development concepts or would you be looking to do something new?"

Dr. Sylvester Young says if he were to be selected as the new band director, the band might dance to a different tune--to a certain extent.

Young says, "You can't reinvent the wheel, but, you can make the wheel better. People don't drive 1920 cars anymore. So, that means you have to change with time. You want to keep it fresh and you want to keep it ahead of the pack."

Young is one of two finalists for FAMU's new band director.

During his day-long interview sessions with different department heads Tuesday, he said he would also look at the size of the Marching 100.

Currently, there are more than 400 members. He says his optimum size is between 256 and 320.

Young says academics are also a priority. He says as band director at Ohio University, he required monitored study time for freshmen, he set an age limit for band members, as well as not allowing students to register for more than five semesters.

He says, "I found out that we had a lot of kids who would register for school only for the first semester, first quarter just to participate in the band. Well, I eliminated that."

Because hazing is a topic of concern with the band, that was one of the main things administrators asked.

Young graduated from FAMU in 1968. One of the first questions the leadership team asked during his interview Tuesday was: "Were you hazed?"

Young answered, Sadly to say, I was as a student."

He told his interviewees about hotel room assignments when the Marching 100 used to travel to Miami for the Orange Blossom Classic.

He says, "A typical upperclassman would put his name first and them he'll put three freshmen names on the list. Then when we get to the hotel, they put us out. That's hazing. We slept in the hallways or whatever because they had their girl fiends. But, then that was acceptable. That was the way it was. We wouldn't question that.

An administrator asked after Young shared that story, "How would you handle it now?" He answered, "That's totally unacceptable now."

Young says if he's selected as the new band director: "The first thing that would have to take place with this band is that the culture of the band would have to change."

FAMU Head Coach Earl Holmes asked, "How would you assure parents that participation in the FAMU band or the pep band be a safe environment?"

Young answered by saying, "We got to talk across the table from those parents. We just can't let them send their kids here based on hearsay. We have to talk to those parents."

Administrators mentioned that the band director position would begin July 1st. They still have not given a specific date as to when the Marching 100 would return. Young says he would have the band ready by FAMU's first football game on September 1st.

Young retired from Ohio University two years ago. He has also worked at Hampton University and Lincoln University. He as 40 years of teaching experience.

The second finalist, Don Roberts, was scheduled to sit down with the search committee at 6:00 tonight. He will have a full day of interviews tomorrow as well.

By: Lanetra Bennett
April 9, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - The FAMU Athletics Department is participating in the interviews in full force. Several key leaders and administrators are participating in the interview, including the athletics director and Head Football Coach Earl Holmes.

Coach Holmes asked Young how would he convince patents that it is safe for their kids to come to FAMU and be in the band.

Young said that he would somewhat require parents to bring their freshmen students to campus instead of just sending them. He says that would give him an opportunity to sit down with parents and discuss everything with them in person.

Under the new structure of the music department at FAMU, the new band director would report directly to the chair of the department. The music chair told Young that's why the first thing he wants to know in the interview, is about Young himself, as a person.

Young is also telling the department chair about rules he implemented at Ohio State to root out problems of students wanting to be in school and returning to school just to have fun in the band. He says he established an age limit and a limit in how many times a student can register. Students could only register for the marching band five times. Young says anyone over the age if 23 would have to have a long conversation with him about their intentions of wanting to be in the band.

Young says he also implemented a requirement that all freshmen band members had to spend monitored study time at the library.
Young says if he's hired at FAMU, his first objective would be to support the real reason why students are in school, and that's to get a degree.

When asked would he follow the Marching 100's traditional show development or do something new, Young said, "you don't reinvent the wheel, but you do try to make it better."

Young says he would respect FAMU's tradition but says he would initiate new elements because he says he would want to keep it fresh and stay ahead of the pack. He says he would be open to ideas.

By: Lanetra Bennett
April 9, 2013

The first of two candidates for FAMU's Director of Marching and Pep Bands begins his second round of on-campus interviews.
Sylvester Young started this morning at 8:30 with a one-on-one with an associate dean of the College of Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities (CSSAH.)

During his interview, Young told the associate dean that he took several measures to stop hazing when he was the band director at Ohio University. He says he had protocols for traveling, such as band members having a dress code. Young says students in the Marching 100 should be ambassadors for FAMU.

Young recently retired from Ohio State. He is a graduate of FAMU.
He met with the search committee last night.

After interviewing with the associate dean of CSSAH, Young will interview with the Music Department Chair, Department of Athletics, the President and Leadership Team, Faculty, followed by band rehearsal at 3:35.

The second candidate, Don Roberts, meets with the search committee tonight at 6, and tomorrow, he will have the same day-long schedule that Young is following today.

By: Garin Flowers
April 8, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - FAMU is one step closer to finding a new director for the world famous marching 100 band.

Monday, school officials met with a potential candidate for the job.

Many will tell you, FAMU has not been the same since it's famed March 100 band was suspended, but, that could soon change with the talks of the band coming back.

"I think that it's pretty good that the school is you know moving the ball as far as searching for a new band director," Clifton Abraham III, FAMU Student, said. "I feel as though the Marching 100 is one thing that the school is missing."

The search for the Marching 100's band director has narrowed down to two. This week, both candidates are meeting with school officials.

"Right now, the band just needs a fresh start, FAMU needs a fresh start and starting with of course hiring a new band director is the key to starting fresh," Abraham said.

Sylvester Young is the first candidate. The search committee interviewed him Monday evening on campus in a public meeting. Young is a former professor of music from Ohio University, and a FAMU alum.

"He's just had a very successful career," Rodner Wright, Search Committee Chairman, said.

The meeting last an hour and a half. Students and staff questioned Young. This decision will be critical for the Marching 100, which has recently faced tough challenges.

"They have to have a clear understanding as to what the context of the university is," Wright said.

The next candidate will have his interview come Tuesday evening.

The search committee did not give a deadline on when they'll make a decision, but once they do, they'll send their recommendation to the president who will make the final hire.

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