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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published August 29 2010

NDSU band marching into Division I

North Dakota State University’s marching band is making more noise this year.

The Gold Star Marching Band is up to 220 members as a result of intensified recruiting and other efforts to step up toward Division I caliber.

Three years ago, the band had 83 members.

Now the band is holding its own when compared to other universities NDSU competes with on the athletic field, said Sigurd Johnson, director of athletic bands.

“Size does matter in a marching band, it really does. You put out a lot more sound and you spread out on the field a lot more when you have more people,” Johnson said. “It just adds to the sound and the spectacle.”

The effort to improve the band began about three years ago when former President Joseph Chapman directed additional resources to the band, Johnson said.

The director of athletic bands position was created in 2007. The band also received new uniforms, drums that were repainted yellow and funding to provide students with modest stipends.

Last year, the band worked harder on recruiting, sending current members into area high schools to spread the word about NDSU’s marching band.

NDSU also is recruiting heavily in the Twin Cities, where many high schools have established marching band programs, Johnson said.

The band performs for home football games, one away game and other special events.

About 75 percent of band members are not music majors.

Teresa Beach, a senior marketing major from Dayton, Minn., played band in high school and wanted to continue in college.

Beach, the clarinet section leader, said members are more serious about the band now.

“It’s a lot more organized,” she said.

Peter Buller, a bass drum player from New Hope, Minn., said the drum line has almost doubled since last year.

“We’re overall a better band,” said Buller, a senior music education major.

Athletic Director Gene Taylor said he expects to hear positive comments from fans this year.

“The fan base has been wanting to see a larger, louder, more creative band,” Taylor said. “Sigurd and the folks over there have done a wonderful job growing it. It really adds to the game day atmosphere, without question.”

The growth is bringing new challenges for the band, but Johnson calls them good challenges.

For example, the band barely had enough uniforms for everyone this year.

The band will increase its fundraising efforts, including plans for a new “adopt a band member” program that will give donors a chance to sponsor a position in the band.

If you go

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590