Help FSU Marching Band "Dress to Impress"

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Fairmont State University Marching Band continues to grow, but band members need your help to look as good as they sound. First impressions matter, and the band wants to “Dress to Impress.”

The Fairmont State Alumni Association, Office of Institutional Advancement, the Fairmont State Foundation, the FSU Department of Music, the FSU Marching Band and the Fairmont State Band Alumni Association are inviting the community to participate in a fund drive to purchase new band uniforms.

“The School of Fine Arts has received partial funding to purchase new uniforms through an internal Strategic Planning Implementation Grant, but an additional $30,000 must be raised. Our goal is to raise the needed funds in time to purchase the new uniforms for the first Fighting Falcons home football game in the fall of 2012,” said Peter Lach, Dean of the School of Fine Arts.

The current band uniforms are more than 10 years old and are beginning to show their age. In addition, the band has grown in numbers, and the current uniform collection does not have sufficient quantity or sizes to fit all the current members. The new uniforms would be used for the next 10 years. Participation in the band is open to all FSU students, not just those who are music majors.

“As a member of the Fairmont State University Marching Band, I have seen firsthand the need for new uniforms for our members,” said Nicole Allison.

“As our musical and marching styles have evolved, we have drawn in many new members who are excited to bring the band into the 21st century. By donating to this campaign, you will secure our future as one of the faces of the music program on campus. Our directors as well as our members would truly appreciate any effort to continue to bring music and entertainment to Fairmont State University and the community at large.”

Dr. Valarie Huffman, a 1995 graduate of Fairmont State, was named Temporary Director of Bands and Assistant Professor of Music in 2003. Under her direction, the band visited Walt Disney World and set up an instrument donation drive to support under-funded high school band programs. Huffman was named Assistant Professor of Music/Director of Bands in 2004

For more than 80 years, the Marching Band has been a visible representation of FSU to the greater North Central West Virginia region. The band appears at campus and community events and also presents performances to aid in the recruitment and retention of FSU students from West Virginia and beyond. The band’s membership has tripled under Huffman’s leadership to include 50 students.

Those who saw the band perform during the 2011 season probably noticed some changes as the band found new energy and a new niche – as a funk-oriented dance show band.

“During the fall of 2010, we had a drum cadence that allowed for a visual impact moment. I had observed marching bands from the Big 10 Conference as well as historically African-American colleges and universities incorporate dance movements that received great audience response,” Huffman said. “As a whim, I decided to incorporate a dance during the cadence to ‘test the waters’ during Homecoming that year. The response was positive, so we designed the 2011 season’s show with more funk-oriented music and dance moves. Much to my surprise, the students enjoyed performing the show more, and the audiences have been wildly receptive. Requests for admission to the band have soared. As a result, this style has been formally adopted as the new style of the Fairmont State University Marching Band. FSU is the first and only collegiate marching band in West Virginia that performs this style. We are thrilled to continue this new tradition.”

The Office of Institutional Advancement has helped to establish donation levels for the campaign. Donors who give $1 to $499 will be part of the Fan Club; $500 to $999 donors will be part of the Falcon Club; $1,000 to $4,999 donors will be part of the Maroon and White Club; $5,000 to $9,999 donors will be part of the College on the Hill Club; and those who give $10,000 to $14,999 will be named to the Circle of Achievement. The names of those who contribute $250 or more will be engraved on a plaque to be displayed in the Department of Music in Wallman Hall.

“This is a time for our alumni and friends to really make an impact on the success, image and message of the Marching Band. Every gift matters and makes a difference, regardless of size. These students work day-in and day-out to represent Fairmont State, and it’s time for the FSU community to rally in support of their hard work. Let’s help the Marching Band with its efforts to ‘dress to impress,’ ” Swain said

For more information, contact Peter Lach, Dean of the School of Fine Arts, at (304) 367-4219 or

About the photo: FSU President Maria Rose poses with Nicole Allison, who is wearing an example of the new uniform design.