Racer Band reports record numbers

Students perform on the steps of Lovett Auditorium Sunday, in front of a crowd of about 300 people. || Michelle Girmaud/Contributing photographer

Students perform on the steps of Lovett Auditorium Sunday, in front of a crowd of about 300 people. || Michelle Girmaud/Contributing photographer

Alex Berg || Staff writer

The Murray State Racer Band topped off the start of school with a record number of interested students, breaking its previous high of 244 members by more than 50 ­– at 310.

On Aug. 15, the number broke the previous record held for more than 30 years.

“We had a great retention rate from last year. Approximately 185 out of 244 members returned from last year’s group,” said assistant director of bands John Fannin.

Fannin said the large retention rate and growth of this year’s band is mainly due to the band’s major performances throughout the season.

He said many members want to return to perform at competitions such as Bands of America’s Marching Band Grand National Championship, which will be held Nov. 7 – 10 in the famous Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

At the event, the Racer Band will perform in an exhibition in front of 90 high school bands and thousands of spectators.

Fannin said being the premier event at a competition such as this, for a band member, is like performing at the Super Bowl.

Fannin also said the band’s recruitment performances at several high schools in the area, the media attention received at the Festival of Champions competition and the members themselves do a great job of recruiting and replacing positions.

Bailey Boyd, senior from Murray, said some difficulties exist for large groups.

“The large number of members will make it more difficult to play together, but it will also make a bigger and better sound,” she said.

Ryan Knight, president of Racer Band and native of Benton Ill., said the band is the best possible representation of Murray State.

“We are a community that learns together and supports each other, continuously raising the bar for ourselves,” he said.

The high number of members this year raised the bar for the band as it created some, what Fannin called, logistical drama.

Uniforms posed the greatest logistical problem. Each uniform is custom-made and takes 150 days to make.

Each member has their own size, and it creates the possibility of wardrobe problems. However, other necessities such as instruments are more easily compensated.

Despite the small logistical trifles, Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said the large number of members is a tremendous asset to the University because it enhances campus life and spirit.