Written by Shanice Barnes, Staff Writer
The Valdosta State University marching band, known as the Blazin’ Brigade, has been entertaining their fans with their sounds since 1993. The Blazin’ Brigade consists of woodwinds, brass, percussions, color guard members, and the Red Hot dance team. You can always count on the Blazin Brigade to lead our team to victory during each and every one of their performances. Dr. Tonya Mitchell accepted her position as Director of Athletic Bands, and has been leading the band since the summer of 2016.
I was able to ask Dr. Mitchell a few questions about leading the band, and what being a part of the band means to her, “My favorite part about directing the band is a two-fold answer. I enjoy experiencing the birth of a show from concept to reality alongside the members of the band.
Students enter the season not knowing the theme, the music, or the drill and leave with several minutes of music memorized, dozens of pages of drill mastered, and a feeling of completion once a show is mastered. That feeling of achievement is compounded when we learn more than one show.
It’s the ultimate exercise is delayed gratification. Part two of my answer is the daily feeling of anticipation, excitement, and progress one feels while working towards a large project. The meta-level of knowing you’re working towards a unified goal (the final show) allows the band to bond, grow, and achieve together.”
“Being part of a band means understanding a shared vision and working as a team to actualize it.
When assessing a rehearsal, we’re not outside playing notes and learning sets, we’re creating a product that utilizes all 140 members equally towards one idea. Being in a band also affords the member some basic human interaction and social skills: communicating effectively with peers and professionals, handling confrontation in a healthy way, speaking with confidence and authority, problem solving, posture and eye contact, body awareness, memorization, working under pressure, planning ahead, etc.”
I sat down with Dylan Peters, one of Graduate Assistants for the Blazin’ Brigade and here’s what he has to say about the band, “It’s a lot better than my undergrad, it’s a lot more enthusiasm for sports in general. It’s a lot of great work being done honestly, and it’s kind of addicting to be around.”
Andrew Copeland, band member for the Blazin’ Brigade says, “I love the unity of it all, we just feel like a family here.” The Blazin Brigade is filled with enthusiasm and unity a part of which makes them a great band, and it surely shows throughout their performances.
The band has a busy season ahead of them. The Blazin’ Brigade will be performing as the exhibition band for the Southern Open in Valdosta and the Heart of Georgia Marching Festival in Warner Robins on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 8:30 p.m. in the Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. The band will also travel to Waycross to play in the Okefenokee Classic on Oct. 1”. They are also scheduled to compete in the Heart of Georgia competition will occur on Oct. 29.
“Throughout the season, you can except to see excitement from the band as we take on new initiatives to enhance the game-day experience. The band has a parade to the Blazer Walk as well as tailgate rallies in both the student and booster lots for all home games. The band will also present multiple half-time shows for the audience,” says Dr. Mitchell.
Good luck this season Blazin’ Brigade, and we look forward to seeing your many performances unfold.