Dr. Schwartz Leads The Blue Devils Marching Band For Another Successful Season

Natalie Dest, Managing Editor

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For Central Connecticut professor and conductor Dr. Robert Schwartz, the best part about leading the Blue Devils Marching Band is “watching the students respond to the music, enjoying their passions and becoming a family.”

Obtaining his doctoral musical arts degree for conducting at the University of Colorado, Schwartz is just beginning his second year of conducting the Marching Band here at CCSU.

Consisting of about 40 music majors and minors, the Blue Devils Marching Band is back for another season of dedication to long rehearsals. Working towards football half time shows and exhibitions, Schwartz is hoping to see nothing but improvements for his second season.

“It’s just about anticipating problems that we already know,” Schwartz said. “We are problem solving from last year and figuring out what works, and if it didn’t work, what we can do to make it better.”

With previous rehearsals only once a school week, the band has increased their practices to 6:15-7:30 p.m on Mondays and Wednesdays with the intention to have more time to improve.

“We were limited when we only rehearsed one day a week, but now that we’re doing it twice a week it’s allowing us to have a little bit more opportunities to be able to do stuff and only get better,” Schwartz continued.

However, it’s the intense week of “band camp” during the month of August that helps prepare and kickstart a season of marching for the Blue Devils.

“We put everything into our half-time shows thanks to our vigorous week of band camp,” Music Education major May Booth said. “We meet all day for an entire week to prepare a new and exciting show each year. Even after learning the show, we work very hard during rehearsals to build on it, add more visuals, and make the music sound even better. Our show improves each football game and throughout the entire season.”

Every home game for the Central football team, the Blue Devils Marching Band is there with instruments in hand and uniforms ready. These halftime shows are where the band showcases their months of preparation and to represent for the CCSU community.

“The marching band works as hard as any other athletic team. We are at CCSU to not only support athletics but also to represent the Department of Music. Our high standard of playing should not go unnoticed,” Booth continued.

In addition to performing at Central athletic games, the marching band is also participating in exhibitions beyond CCSU’s campus where their talents are being further presented.

“We are performing for events that high school bands are playing at so that we can go out and show this is what we’re doing at CCSU. This is the marching band…It’s just to give an idea of what we’re doing here and to show our hard work,” Schwartz said.

Not only are these students working hard inside the classroom, but many are working on their own time to help improve the ensemble as a whole. Students Savannah Moore, Eric Stefano and Joe Pagliaruli led the idea of new designs for the band’s uniforms.
 
“Our uniforms this year are brand new, thanks to President Toro. A lot went into designing them since we had to start from scratch,” Moore said.  “Dr. Schwartz chose to work with Stanbury Uniforms and a representative came to meet with us. During that meeting we determined the color, the shape, and the design. Later we were sent a prototype drawing, then a prototype uniform to wear. After trying on the uniform we noticed things we wanted to change…Later we were sent a revised draft and we all fell in love with the look of it.”

With new uniforms, additional rehearsals and a new attitude, students of the Blue Devils Marching Band are anticipating a successful season. However, this would not be possible without Schwartz and his commitment to the band.

“Dr. Schwartz works tirelessly to not only grow our marching band but also to make it the best it can be,” Booth continued. “Our numbers have nearly doubled since last year and our show is the most difficult one in years. We can credit this all to Dr. Schwartz, as we can tell he is passionate about keeping a high standard and making sure the marching band is noticed and respected.”

For Schwartz, it’s about watching the constant growth of the ensemble from the beginning of the season to the end.

“Just watching the growth within the students and all their improvements that they’ve made from the beginning of band camp up till now is rewarding to see,” Schwartz said. “Watching them perform as a family is always the best part.”