Finding the beat and lasting friends: The Sound of the South makes music, memories

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Chris Wallace photo

Will Oliver, a multimedia journalism major from Wetumpka, Alabama, who was a junior in the spring, leads a line of snares in the Sound of the South.

Chris Wallace

Troy University’s marching band invites students to join it with its motto: “There’s always a place for you in the Sound of the South.”

The band has more than 300 members, some of whom also join affiliated clubs, fraternities and honors groups. 

The marching band was established in 1939. Dr. John M. Long named it the Sound of the South in 1965 when he became the band director. 

Long — for whom the university’s School of Music and its building are now named — started with a small ensemble that has become one of the largest student groups on campus.

“The ability to make connections and have freedom to play how I wanted to were the best part about marching,” said band member Parker Roberts, a music major from Lake Park, Georgia, who was a senior in the spring. 

“We were also treated very well on trips and had the best time on away games.” 

The experience can be difficult at times. It takes hard work and ample exercise. 

The band performs at football games. The weather can be cold or so hot that it’s dangerous to someone who is not physically healthy. 

“Drink water, play music, and have fun,” said alumni member Steve Gainer from Ashford, Alabama. “Your well-being is just as important as the performance.”

Students are expected to learn dances and routines. This is mostly for the auxiliary, but sometimes the band itself will have a song that involves dancing. 

“The main reason I came to Troy was for the Sound of the South Color Guard, and I liked the choreography,” said Ashlyn Nix, a human services major from Prattville, Alabama, who was a junior in the spring. 

For a couple of weeks starting in the first week of August, members hold band camp to practice marching and rehearse music for the fall football season. They work a long day, every day.

“Be on time, and drink lots of water,” said Dr. Mark Walker, director of bands. Students should ask questions from current members or faculty to be ready to join the Sound of the South.

To join the band, you need to sign up online for the band class, then fill out a talent release and medical forms at registration on your first day of band camp. 

Any student may join, and the course is one credit hour. You need no other courses to participate. 

If you have questions, you can ask Amanda Taylor, secretary for the Troy University Bands, at troyband@troy.edu or 334-670-3281.

“While I was in the Sound of the South, I made friendships that will last a lifetime,” said Katie Manker, a graduate assistant from Holtville, Alabama, who is a music education major. 

“It’s like I gained 350 new family members that helped the transition to college be that much easier.” 

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