Rich history hits all the right notes

When the Falcon Marching Band performs at a home football game, it’s more than lots of music and fancy marching taking place. Every note, every step, and every thread on those uniforms is part of a rich history that dates back nearly a century.

“Everything we do reflects on the long tradition of the marching band at the University,” said Tyler Way, a senior saxophone player who has been a squad leader with the Falcon Marching Band for the past two years. “Our goal is to sound professional, look professional, but most importantly, to always honor the culture that has been created here over so many years.”

The Falcon Marching Band is the largest student organization on campus, with a membership of more than 250 students. Besides its pregame concerts and halftime shows at all of the home football games, the band will also usually make one or two road trips during the football schedule, and perform at a variety of additional University functions. In recent years, the success of the football team has brought the band to Mid-American Conference championship games and numerous
bowl games.

“We understand that first and foremost we are there to represent the University in a very positive manner,” said Dr. Michael King, director of the Falcon Marching Band. “Our bowl schedule usually includes appearances at events around the community, a parade, pep rallies, alumni functions and tailgating as well as the performances at the game. We try to be as supportive as we can of the team and the fans who have traveled to the game.”

The band’s performances, both those at home football games and at the variety of other events where the band or smaller segments of its musicians will appear, are also a vital marketing element for the University.

“Every time the band performs, we want to be ambassadors for Bowling Green State University,” King said. “We realize that we represent the University in everything we do and we take that role very seriously.”

Another major aspect of the marching band experience is playing host to high school musicians. The BGSU band hosted 19 high schools from six states last year as part of the “Music for All” Bands of America program. At a recent home football game, the Falcon Marching Band held its annual “Band Day” and brought in high school marching bands from across the region.

“There are many benefits with these events,” King said. “Most importantly, we get a large number of high school students on campus to see what BGSU is all about. This is a valuable recruiting opportunity for both the band and the University as a whole. Secondly, we bring all of the families of those high school band members into the stadium to take in the college game-day experience, and support our athletic department at the same time.”

King said that while road trips, bowl games and special events all provide the Falcon Marching Band with a stage to display its considerable musical talents and performance skills, these appearances also serve as opportunities to recruit future students and band members, and also to honor the history and tradition each band member treasures.

March-Band-9861

“The marching band is full of tradition,” said Joe Dubbert, a senior sousaphone player. “There is a tremendous sense of family and camaraderie among the current members of the band, and a strong sense of the obligation to honor the history of the band. Every time we perform, we want to feel good walking off the field, knowing that we can be proud of our performance, and proud of what being a member of the Falcon Marching Band represents.”

“The Falcon Marching Band holds a very special place in my heart,” Bruce Misamore ’72, ’73 said. “Thanks to former Band Director Mark Kelly and a full tuition scholarship in music, I was able to attend the university and have the great experience of playing in the bands, being the tuba squad leader, being the principal tuba in the Symphonic Band and serving as president of the band fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi.”

Misamore remains close friends with Kelly, who served as director of bands from 1966 to 1994, and is an ardent supporter of the FMB. He served on the Alumni Band Board and as its president in its early years, and became one of the University’s youngest members of The Presidents Club when he made a life insurance gift as a young alumnus eventually payable to the University Bands.

At Homecoming 2016, Bruce Misamore presented a lead gift of $50,000 to launch fundraising for the new uniforms and scholarships. This complements his leadership support of the previous uniform campaign, annual contributions to the University Bands Advancement Fund, contributions to the Mark S. Kelly University Band Award and the Helen Kelly Service Above Self Band Award, and two endowed Falcon Marching Band Scholarships.

“EVERY TIME THE BAND PERFORMS, WE WANT TO BE AMBASSADORS FOR BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY.”

“I was so fortunate to attend BGSU on a music scholarship and be part of the great Falcon Marching Band, even though I’ve spent my career in finance,” Misamore said. “I feel it is important to repay that gift by helping today’s band students.”

King, who has been the director of the Falcon Marching Band for about two years, said the proud allegiance of graduates such as Misamore is a critical part of the marching band philosophy at BGSU. With a history that dates to the first marching band at BGSU in the fall of 1923, not long after the University was initially chartered as a normal school, King said it is apparent to anyone associated with the program that there is a very well-defined marching band environment in place at Bowling Green.

“For a new director anywhere, especially at an institution with such a rich band culture, you need to get a handle on that tradition quickly and make sure that tradition is maintained in a positive manner,” King said, “while at the same time making sure the band will continue to grow.”
A lot of that growth and vitality in the band is generated by the very strong and supportive alumni of the Bowling Green State University Band Alumni Society. The group has a board of directors, an active meeting schedule, and plays a big role in the scholarship program, Homecoming festivities, and recruiting new marching band members.

“The alumni group is so important,” King said. “They are involved in much of what we do, and they view their involvement with the band in a very positive manner. And since they are located all over the country, the alumni are also vital to recruiting.”

The FMB alumni are also playing a major role in the current fundraising project to raise $325,000 to purchase new uniforms and provide scholarship support for marching band students. The current style has been in use since 2004, with only minor changes. King said a committee of about a dozen alumni, prominent donors and University officials has selected a design for the new uniforms that brings a more contemporary look to the band, while also honoring the tradition of the program.

“The goal is to create something that is timeless, something that is traditional in character and represents our University well,” King said. “Uniform designs change, so we want to try to get a little closer to finding something that, over a period of time, will still look new and sleek.”

Way said that while the instruments, music and marching are the most essential elements of any performance by the Falcon Marching Band, the look also matters to students, alumni and the audience.

“Our major goal on the field is to look professional, and support for the uniform campaign really helps give us that look,” he said. “It is just a piece of the total presentation, but in the Falcon Marching Band, all of the pieces have to shine.”

Visit bgsu.edu/giveFMB to learn more and make a gift today.