Summer band camp at Grambling State University (GSU)looked different this year but the learning and fun were epic. Due to COVID-19, the camp was held virtually but GSU faculty and staff worked hard to make it a memorable experience, said Dr. Nikole Roebuck, the director of Grambling State’s World Famed Tiger March Band.
“We wanted to do face-to-face but because we’re slowly coming out of the pandemic, we decided to go virtual this year to keep students safe,” she explained.
The camp, held July 6-8, introduced middle and high school students to the style of the GSU World Famed Tiger Marching Band and gave them a taste of what it’s like to be part of the legendary ensemble. More than 190 students registered for the camp that featured elements of previous camps except in-person activities.
“We took our normal schedule from camp and I got the staff together and we just started brainstorming,” Dr. Roebuck said.
Each morning featured announcements and videos, including historic, dynamic footage of the band.
Roebuck said GSU officials reached out to experts who conducted master classes via Zoom. Because instructors taught marching fundamentals to GSU freshmen last year via Zoom, they were well-prepared for that segment of the camp.
“We also had leadership training, basic music theory, music production, music arrangement, and jazz improvisation,” she said, adding that the drum majors, dancers, flags, and twirlers performed routines.
Every day the camp featured a special guest. Appearances were made by musical artist HD4President, rapper Mike B, and comedian Steve Brown.
Because of the pandemic, the university didn’t hold a band camp in 2020 but Dr. Roebuck said she and her staff wanted to keep the tradition going this year – albeit virtually.
“We wanted to keep that connection with the students,” she said. “It was a first for us and it was exciting. Technology is a good thing. We made it work.”
Dr. Roebuck, who attended the band camp as a child, said she wanted to bring that same type of experience and excitement to students this summer.
“The kids were engaged. They logged on every day and they asked questions,” she said. “It was just really good.”
Dr. Roebuck said she’s looking forward to GSU freshman band camp.
“I’m so excited for the season. I’m ready for things to get back to close to normal as possible.”
About Grambling State University
Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university founded in 1901. The University has been accredited by 13 accrediting associations and holds accreditations in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. The 590-acre campus offers 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs. Grambling State University is a member of the University of Louisiana System.