Marching Sound Machine Arrives in California, Ready to Show the World

The 2 a.m. start for to the trip to California for NCCU’s Marching Sound Machine made for a very quiet flight to Los Angeles. Perhaps that was part of the plan.

Band members and administrators alike on Delta 1755 Tuesday morning were slumped in their seats, eyes closed. The only hint that about half the plane was occupied by Eagles came with the call and response: “Eagle Pride? Amplified!” when the band was welcomed by name by the plane’s captain.

For alto saxophone player Roberta Greene, a freshman in elementary education, this is a first trip to California, but she’s a veteran of middle and high school marching bands. She came to NCCU from Lexington Senior High School in Lexington, N.C., and plays in both the Symphonic and the Marching Sound Machine Bands at the Durham university.

All her thoughts are about the Rose Parade. “Once there, the adrenalin starts pumping and the two hours will fly by fast,” said Greene.

The band has been training for the physical test of the six-mile Rose Parade by marching and playing two hours every day since the beginning of November.

“It takes a lot of stamina to play for two hours,” said Greene. She has been practicing to ensure the consistency of her breathing. “You have to pace yourself but still have energy so the crowd can get pumped up.”

This is a particular concern for Greene as she is asthmatic and is worried about making it through the six miles without having to break formation and use her inhaler.

But Greene is completely confident about NCCU’s ability to deliver a winning performance. “I’m looking forward to our dancing – that separates us from all the other bands.”

There is no lack of confidence among the band members. After a full day of travel, Brian Henry, a junior in mass communication, was ready to go to practice and ready for the Rose Parade.
“It was everyone’s dream to go across the country in their undergrad years…to make the famous turn on Colorado Boulevard. We’re ready to show the world what we’re made of,” said Henry.