FAMU's New Band Director Speaks On Marching 100

By: Lanetra Bennett
June 26, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - The Florida A&M University Marching band is still on suspension. There's no word on when that will change.

However, with a new band director holding the baton, things may change may be on the horizon.

Dr. Sylvester Young has only been on the job for a few days now, but, he's hit the ground running.

He says he has been reaching out to band members to reiterate proper student behavior, which he says comes before marching and music.

Dr. Young says he is excited about being the new band director at FAMU and says his excitement seems to trickle down to band students.

Dr. Young graduated from FAMU in 1969 and is the former band director of Ohio University.

He says he realizes the Marching 100's deep traditions, and says his mission is to bring the band back stronger than ever and move the music program forward.

He says, "I want to preserve those things that have brought this band to this point, in regards to their performance, their standards of excellence in marching and musicianship. But, there are some things that we plan to somewhat change."

Dr. Young says those changes include more care and attention to individual students who are in the band.

Some of FAMU's Marching 100 band members met Dr. Young for the first time Wednesday.

Dr. Young says, while students weren't acquainted with him, they already know where he stands on hazing.

"The word is out." He says.

He says he has zero tolerance for hazing. "A lot of those situations are states of minds of the students. We are somewhat changing that already just through plain conversation with the students, getting to know them and putting them on the spot as to why they're here."

Dr. Young retired as Ohio University's band director three years ago.

He says after the hazing death of FAMU's Marching 100 Drum Major Robert Champion in 2011, he felt a responsibility to leave retirement and help build the band back up.

Marching 100 member Zachary Nealy says Champion was his drum major in high school in Atlanta.

He says he's looking forward to healing under Dr. Young's leadership.

Nealy says, "It felt like night, but now we're in the daylight. I want to thank our administration for providing a means for us to moving on and moving to the next level."

The marching band class is now being offered again. But, administrators say it's not necessarily an indication of whether the Marching 100 is returning.

"We're just getting ready." Says, Dr. Young.

Dr. Young says he is only one piece of the puzzle of getting the Marching 100 back. He says administrators are still making sure everything is in place before making any decisions.

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