Raider band marches to the beat of a different director

The Raider Band didn’t expect to have a new director as members prepare for the first kickoff of the football season, but the students have “stepped up” to make the transition as seamless as possible. Keith Gilbert met his drum line and color guard last week, and Thursday was the third day of camp for the full band. The band normally practices outside, but rain forced them into the gym, where Gilbert’s voice reverberated throughout the dissonant echo chamber, his words punctuating the tepid horns of young musicians finding their way on an adaptation of Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady.” The band was too “jazzy” on one line when it needed to be more “crisp,” observed Erin McNair, chair of the Department of Fine Arts, so Gilbert had the musicians vocalize the beats and tones. McNair, who teaches the chorus, said that kind of teaching tool was one of the “meat and potatoes” strategies band directors use to help their musicians get a piece right in their heads so they can focus on replicating it through their instruments. When the students finally nailed the section, Gilbert stopped them. “Make sure that wasn’t an accident,” he said. “Let’s go again.”