USA Today’s College Football Fan Index shows Texas A&M University’s Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band leading the national list.
“For those of us who have the privilege of watching the Aggie Band perform every week, this recognition is no surprise, as the cadets in the band consistently awe the crowd with their intricate halftime drills at every game,” says Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Joe E. Ramirez, Jr., commandant of the Corps of Cadets.
According to USA Today, the Texas Aggie Band is unlike any other collegiate musical group. “First off, it’s massive with more than 300 members. In fact, the school has dubbed it ‘the largest military marching band in the nation.’” The band is a unit in Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets and operates under strict military guidelines.
The editors say what separates the band, which got its start in 1894, from others around the country is “it performs intricate military formations that seem to defy physics. For example, one of the band’s trademark movements is the crisscross.”
An article in MyAggieNation.com explains how it’s done. “To complete the original maneuver, two units march diagonally across the field toward each other. Once they meet at a central point, or axis, individual members make a right angle step, eventually creating an ‘X’ as more members complete the turn. Drill formation software today claims this maneuver is impossible because it would require two marchers to be in the same place at once.”
A video of the band performing this intricate crisscross drill is available here.
Every precise formation is mapped out by hand by director Dr. Timothy Rhea, senior associate director Lt. Col. Jay Brewer and associate director Capt. Travis Almany.
“We just divide them up so one person isn’t having to do one every week,” Rhea said in an interview with MyAggieNation.com. “We rotate between the three of us. And from time to time some of the band members may have something that they bring in to us, and that they think would be neat and have a good idea. We’re always willing to incorporate that in as well.”
Rhea says the Texas Aggie Band has been an integral part of the traditions of Texas A&M for over 100 years. “This current recognition is a tribute to the hundreds of men and women who have played and marched in the Aggie Band through the years, resulting in their establishment of a performance standard that has earned the Aggie Band respect and admiration throughout the nation. We are fortunate to be held in this high regard among other outstanding university bands,” he adds.
Rhea has been with Texas A&M since 1993, when he was hired as associate director, and has been the director of bands and performing ensembles since 2002. The bands are open to all students, while participation in the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band requires membership in the Corps of Cadets.
“The members of the Aggie Band have a lot to be proud of, and this recognition by USA Today is just another example of how their stellar reputation is well known across the country,” notes Ramirez. “As the Commandant of Cadets, and a former member of the Aggie Band, I am truly proud of this national recognition. Congratulations to the members of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band for this well-deserved recognition of their hard work, dedication to excellence and flawless execution of the most unique and intricate halftime drills in the country. Once again they have brought great credit to themselves, the Corps of Cadets and Texas A&M University.”
The Aggie Band is one of the most traveled collegiate marching bands in the nation. The band was presented the Sudler Trophy from the John Philip Sousa Foundation in 2001 in recognition of the long tradition of excellence established by the organization.
Media contact: Brittany Coker, Corps of Cadets, at office (979) 458-1706, mobile (214) 502-3812 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Tura King, Division of Marketing & Communications, at (979) 845-4670 or email@example.com