Tyler Clark, North Carolina Central, / PHOTO BY:RAHEIM SIMON -@BLACK_SOAP

HBCU Bands Open A World Of Opportunity

JAN 30, 2018

Beyond talent and discipline, playing in “the band” at an HBCU requires a flair for the dramatic. The lights are bright, the stadiums packed, the energy electric and the expectations high.

Kick-off signals game time but halftime signals showtime.

Melvin Miles Jr., Band Director at Morgan State University in Baltimore points to a special feeling in the air,
"The expectation is to see quality movement and to hear great music. The impact causes an eruption of pride."


Melvin N Miles Jr. / Photo by: STEVEN JOHN IRBY @STEVESWEATPANTS

He’s spent nearly 50 years pouring his time and talent into his students at Morgan State University. Mr. Miles points out that beyond the crowds and lights are the everyday opportunities he has to shape a mindset that will last a lifetime.

“In this position one gets to participate in changing a student's life. It may be their first plane ride, or the first time out of the neighborhood, some have never been to a professional football game nor a college game. When they graduate these experiences are often useful throughout their lives. Our purpose is not to develop better band members but to develop better people.”

For many HBCU band members, the culmination of these opportunities is Honda’s Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase (HBOB), an annual celebration of competition and camaraderie.

“HBOB helped to make Black college bands relevant. It is great to see people come together to listen to and watch Black College Marching Bands."

Thurman Hollins, Band Director at North Carolina Central in Durham, agrees.


Thurman Hollins, Band Director at North Carolina Central / Photo by: STEVEN JOHN IRBY @STEVESWEATPANTS

From his perspective, "HBOB has provided an opportunity to highlight the tradition of marching bands in our communities. It has also provided financial support to assist with the long list of needs that band programs have."

And Mr. Hollins transforms those band experiences into lessons that impact their personal and professional lives.

“[I’m filled with a sense of purpose when]...watching students enter the program based on their potential and leave the program with a lifetime of experience and a skill-set that transfers into their career paths.”

One thing is clear, long after the games are over, HBCU band members continue to benefit from their experience and their march forward will inspire a new generation of students.