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Mason vs. VCU Pep Band War

What, this isn't cool?

The simmering Mason-VCU pep band rivalry extends beyond the bands' showy figureheads: VCU's shirt-shedding "Total Package" and Mason's pimped-out Doc Nix.

(And hey, anyone who thought I was in anti shirt-shedding pep band leaders based on yesterday's item could not be more mistaken. If you've ever read my blog at all, you'd know that there could be virtually nothing I would more strongly endorse than a shirt-shedding pep band leader. Maybe a shirt-shedding pep band leader with a mohawk, I guess.)

Or this?

VCU, the story goes, has long held sway over the CAA, band-wise, but a few heretics have dared suggest that Mason's band is now the Rams' equal. This could all come to a head at the conference tourney, especially if the two teams wind up meeting in the final for a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Trombone kidney shots could ensue. Some quotes from a recent VCU-driven CAAZone message board thread on the topic have got me anticipating the bad saliva between these two groups:

* "Admittedly, Mason's got the best pep band in the league..hands down. Just being honest."

* "That is not true VCU has been on top of the mountain for years....all mason has is a 40 year old wanna be pimp who decides to rip off as many main stream songs as possible. ADVANTAGE VCU!"

"GMU's pep band has made significant advances in quality and song selection and I probably consider them the 2nd best one in the CAA after VCU. Towson has a good, although small, band too."

Is the world really better without trumpeters named "The Ocho?"

* "I much prefer our band, leader, etc....theirs also just seems too commercial and forced...and who was the silly sidekick wanna be trying to be the pimp....he looked like a rabi trying to act like a was like watching one of those cover bands in a concert....not what you want in a game atmosphere....."

* "If I have to hear "Living on a Prayer" one more time, I think i'll vomit."

* "Anyone who doubts how good our band is obviously did not attend the Maryland game. The band rallied the fans and gave great energy to the crowd, who in turn gave it to the team. The band led the cheers and answered the obnoxious Terp fans. We love our band."

"I am not worried. Cause like I said: come march, at the Tourney, we will show everyone, once again, why we are the best pep band there is."

Or without this person?

* "I must say, this thread is blasphemy! VCU pep band has been the best in the CAA 8 years running! We are fun, loud, rockin, and we don't play square! We don't have or need silly little gimmicks like violins, microphones, and amps (other than the bass amp). What's next Mason? A moog board? A harp? An entire oboe and bassoon section? Not to mention that pimp is whack! He is soo white it's lame. I would take our crazy stripper to their pimp any day. I have seen mason's band many times and I must say, not impressive. All you hear is their bass guitar, their drummer is boring to watch (ours on the other hand is unbelievable), and their brass has little to know high range. Whatever, were gunna continue to rock, yall think what you want."

Dunno, that's an awful lot of defensiveness from a group that's supposed to be secure in their top-ranked status. Always punch up, VCU band members. Go after the ACC bands. Don't go after your conference's No. 2 seed. All this petty "they're no good" talk makes you seem, well, a bit scared frankly.

Plus, I admit to having seen a few rabbis in my day, and I've yet to see one quite like Doc Nix. Plus, are you really objecting to the presence of white violins, Daft Punk and Nirvana tunes at a basketball game? I mean, who actually has left the Patriot Center thinking "yeah, that band was pretty funky, but they could stand to lose the white violins." Nonsense.

Or without these guys?

Accuse me of being a homer, but I was at Mason's game on Saturday and they worked it out, dawg. They made those songs their own. Might have been a little pitchy at times, but it didn't matter because whatever "it" is, this band has "it." They're infectious. People just like them. I don't know, that was a strange one for me. I'm not sure I "got" that one. That was only all right for me. Just keeping it real. We got a hot one here, yeah yeah.

(And yeah, on a sports night that included some college hoops and the Wizards, I spent two hours watching American Idol last night, which I consider much more of a sport than regular season NBA action.)

(Also, the VCU band director chimed in on the thread with this:

"The TTL PKG has nothing to prove! The ground work has been layed for years and years with everyone left looking up at me. There has NEVER been anyone or anything seen like me. Not one director in the COUNTRY who has been more energetic more resilient more entertaining or more controversial. Not one!")

Man, I can't wait for this tournament. Seriously, if this doesn't end with Doc Nix's pimp stick being broken over someone's head, I'll consider the tournament a huge failure.)

Or without white violins?

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 20, 2008; 10:52 AM ET
Categories:  College Basketball  
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WOW once again. Way to hype it up. Care to quote me some more? Or would you rather quote the juicy stuff. LOL None the less I love the attension both bands are receiving!

Posted by: TTL PKG | February 20, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

It's not bad enough that the Washington Post REFUSES to consider VCU (in Richmond, VA -- 98 miles away) a "local team;" even though they consider Va Tech (5 HOURS AWAY) a local team. Now, we have a Post Blogger backing the GMU BAND????

Talk about defensiveness. HMMM... Could it be that GMUs record, when compared to VCUs, in CAA play is not as easy to discuss? Since we can't argue that VCU is leading the CAA with a pretty sizable lead, we must go after the BANDS, as if they matter to the teams winning or losing record.

One other point about the "defensiveness": it appears that the first statement on the CCA chat board was made by a GMU fan. When I attended VCU (albeit long ago) the arts program (including music) was a big draw and nationally recognized; I don't think that's changed. Don't go after VCUs music program; I really don't think you have much of a leg to stand on (or would that be a "strong" pimp hand??)

Posted by: VCU 89 | February 20, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I just wanted to note that well after the GMU - VCU game and with almost no one left in the arena the TTL PKG was seen watching longingly from the concourse. Clearly he was wishing he could be a member of the Green Machine. I could not have been more disappointed. RR

Posted by: Rodney | February 20, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

You have two noticeably different bands with clearly different styles effectively using methods independent of each other which succeed in entertaining the crowd. These universities, when it comes to the arts, are two icons which deserve their own recognition. Whether you're stripping [in front of the children] or suggestively sporting an overt facade -- the point is these universities are putting Pep Bands in the CAA on the map. Instead of squabbling over a superficial label regarding such a matter, I believe these universities should simply support each other as colleagues. Let the music and the crowds speak for themselves.

"If there is a fight or a quarrel, the one who exercises forbearance will be favored." ~ Osaka Jochu Kabogaki

Posted by: CopperBassBone | February 20, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I am a member of the VCU pep band. Of course we are the best. The thing that I will give GMU credit for, is that they have a more up-to-date book of tunes. They have great tune selection (although Living on a Prayer is overplayed.)

And how are we suppose to go after ACC schools when we've only played Duke and Maryland? Both of those school's fans said that our pep band was better, and wished our pep band played for their school. So, we are going after ACC schools.


Posted by: Eric | February 20, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Have you ever heard the VCU pep band live?

Obviously not.

Posted by: vcu | February 20, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Dear VCU and TTL PKG,

No, I've never seen your band.

If it's really not obvious, this whole thing is sort of tongue in cheek. I wouldn't be writing about pep bands if I didn't love pep bands, and I have no trouble believing yours is a hot one.

I also don't see why any fair-minded pep band fan would be opposed to pimps and white violins. I love you all, and I'm not at all joking when I say I'm looking forward to Richmond partially for the tunes.

Please don't hit me with your tubas.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | February 20, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

As a graduate of Old Dominion University I have a healthy dislike for both VCU and GMU. That puts me in a perfect position to deliver an impartial view on the VCU/GMU Battle of the Bands.

The VCU band is loud and obnoxious, no different than any other band in the CAA. They do a pretty good job of getting their fan base going. Musically they are not much different than anyone else.

The GMU band is loud and obnoxious as well. Really what college bands are not loud and obnoxious? The GMU band has a nice selection of music that different than the rest of the bands in the CAA. Doc Nix is far and away the best band leader in the CAA. As much as I hate to admit it the Green Machine does put on a mean version of "Living on a Prayer".

If I were to handicap the VCU/GMU Battle of The Bands I would go with GMU.

Posted by: ODU2K1 | February 20, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse


Thank you for clarifying your stance. I have not read your blog often but I did read the one about the dance team and it seemed to have the same tone as the one about Ryan at VCU. Today's article does seem more tongue in cheek than yesterdays and you do seem to really have an appreciation for the bands.

If you are at the game, please come up and shake hands with Ryan. I know he'll appreciate it.

Posted by: S | February 20, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Well, yes, as a member of the Green Machine, I have to say that I think we are the best. Honestly though, I've only been in the band for less than a year, am usually unable to come to events because I help run the winterguard, and I have not gotten caught up in all this "whose band is better" crud. The only thing I've ever allowed myself to get caught up in is the energy Doc creates when we're working on music (be it in rehearsal or a game).

As someone who was not even aware of this intense band rivalry until an hour ago, I have to say that VCU's band members sound scared that there's some competition in the arena now. Also, I find it amusing that they keep stating their record of superiority like repetition of the fact will keep them where they've been.

In response to all the insults flying at Doc, I want to say that you should NEVER say ANYTHING about a person if you've never met them! That man is THE most soulful, lovable, and giving person I have ever met! Because he cares and is not afraid to put something new and unheard of out there (white violins anyone?), the GMU winterguard now has the support and resources to become competitive in the Atlantic Indoor Association and, eventually, Winterguard International.

Oh yeah, and on the topic of guards since they're associated with bands. Everyone might want to see who's been kicking whose butt in AIA competition this year. Yeah... that would be the MASON DECLARATION WINTERGUARD beating VCU's Affinity 4 winterguard every time! Maybe if VCU's band and band director are REALLY thaaaaat wonderful, they could put some time and money into helping out THEIR winterguard too. I'd truly, from my heart, like to see Affinity 4 winterguard receiving the same kind of love and support that Mason Declaration gets from OUR awesome pep band and wonderful band director.

Posted by: GMUgrdgrl | February 20, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with CopperBassBone - VCU and GMU offer fantastic music educations. While the edge currently goes to Mason in the musical arts, the edge in the visual arts goes BIG TIME to VCU. The arts programs at both universities should support each other.

However, this is all in good fun and the rivalry and competition are great. They do offer two completely different things, and I love them both. I lean towards GMU because of the drastic improvement over the past 3 years. I love VCU because of the history and tradition, but the Green Machine just gets me so pumped up and excited.

Posted by: musicman | February 20, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

As a VCU band member, I want to say thank you to the GMU band for finally giving us some real competition. We've been the best band in the CAA for 8 years and counting, and we fully intend to continue that trend come March in the tourney. I've been around this "battle of the bands" for 3 years now, and I have to say that none of the bands have come close to sounding better than us...until now.

GMU, you guys can congratulate yourselves for finally reaching the elite of the CAA's bands. What our teams have done the past two years, and what our bands continue to do, are doing nothing but good for the CAA as a conference.

I look forward to a VCU-GMU tourney final, where we can finally put this issue to rest and see which team (and which band) truly is superior...But just some fair warning, we have won it 8 years in a row, so you've obviously got some work to do!

Posted by: Dave | February 21, 2008 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Final Four battle of the bands champions.

'Nuff said.

Posted by: Eric | February 21, 2008 1:19 AM | Report abuse

For future reference, the "rabbi" is Father Peter, the wonderful Priest for GMU's Catholic Campus Ministry (it isn't much of a coincidence that he only comes out on the court for "Livin' on a Prayer"). He is also a huge supporter of Mason athletics and figure in the GMU community by his own merits, not a Doc Nix wannabe. Doc Nix is amazing at what he does and is such a great person as well, comments against him come from people who obviously have never seen or met the man. He is completely unrepeatable as the best Pep Band director. Ever.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2008 1:45 AM | Report abuse

As a former member of the RamBand and alumni who still goes back and plays from time to time I thought I would way in.

First, Doc Nix is an amazing musician who knows his stuff and has done wonders to that band, they were a joke not but a few years ago, he has really brought them up!!

TTL PKG, myself and a few others sent many waking hours doing the same for VCU about 9 or ten years ago, and it has been paying off. although most of the restof us that built that band are gone, TTL PKG and a few others are there keeping the tradition alive!! and maintaining the best band in the land. (As voted on every year I may add, this is not completely a self given title, the message board you referenced does awards every year, trophies and all)

As for the ACC i was still in the band and we attended the big dance and played Wake Forest we owned the ACC!! There were tons of letters and e-mails sent the director of bands at VCU from random ACC fans, asking how they could get our excitement, and complementing us on how great we were. The phrase, I wish we had bands like you guys in the ACC was used many times!!!

Just my thoughts, I can't wait for the tourny and some good old friendly competition!

Posted by: The_Ram_Band | February 21, 2008 2:03 AM | Report abuse

Dan and everyone else,

Dan, understand that what you have done is great. Good press for VCU and GMU in the area of music. Thank you.

Everyone else, I agree with you. To speak ill of an individual you do not know is irresponsible so please refrain. Now that I have said how I feel about that some of you do need to understand that this a but of fun and there are and will always be shots made back and forth at each other. I assure you it is in good fun. I am positive when I say if anyone personally met Doc they wouldn't have a bad thing to say about him. This years march showdown will be interesting and all the past references to awards and being the best made by our band people is showing their pride in our accomplishments. That's why you have awards correct? The thrown is yours to take....Can you handle it or are you still "Livin on a Prayer"

Guard girl congratulations on the winter guard achievements. I know I will take shots from everyone in the universe but I was in winter guard and I think its great. I didn't pursue it further cause I have to do important stuff like work to pay bills. I commend the pep band for supporting you guys but isn't it a separate issue? Myself and a bunch of people support the VCU men's tennis team and we are ranked nationally year after year. So would it be fair for me to say to you...Why doesn't the Mason band support your tennis team so that you guys can beat VCU......

Posted by: TTL PKG | February 21, 2008 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Just a question...

VCU claims to be the "best band in the CAA" for the past 8 years.

Where exactly is this "competition" taking place? I haven't seen any polls on CAA Zone or otherwise...

Clarification would be awesome. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 21, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey so I'm the white violinist you all keep deciding it is ok to talk smack about... well you all need to shut it. Honestly, violins rock out like any other instrument just cause you all can't handle it doesn't mean you gotta bust on us about it! Doc Nix is AWESOME for giving me and the other violin and oh VIOLA players the chance to do this, so when you all decide to man up and see we can take a risk and try somethin new with our band instead of priding over "tradition" and bein the "best" we will be there in March for apologies.

And if we are gonna go talking superiority if I remember correctly, Mason Basketball owned up on you all when you made the mistake of coming in to OUR HOUSE! Just remember that! Good thing you got the home court advantage for the tourney, you'll need it!

Posted by: Justin Kamiyama | February 21, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Isn't competition a great thing? Maybe.

VCU band members are right, they have been on top for a long time. It took a lot of hard work and dedication from the director and years of student leadership to make that band great. Doc Nix and the GreenMachine are in the first stages of doing just that, and the hard work is showing very early on. I don't envy VCU for that reason; it's tough to retain the passion that made you great in the first place when you've been on top so long. Let's face it, we pep bands are at games to entertain and support our schools. And VCU and GMU are up in the top bands of the NATION when it comes down to entertainment value.

I love the direction Doc has taken at Mason because it really sums him up. When violas came to him wanting to play with the band, there was no hesitation, a resounding "yes" was the answer. When a contrabassoonist asked to play at games, again, "yes." As a former marching band director, I once pondered the use of woodwinds on a marching field. It's not ideal, you can barely hear them, and it wreaks havoc with their instruments. But someone made me see that regardless of the perceived technical drawbacks, creating an environment where everyone can participate and be part of something rich, fun and musical is an essential band experience. It's exciting, it's fun and you really become a tight group. That's what Doc has done at GMU. He gives any student and any instrument, from violas, cellos, to contrabassoon, a home and a creative outlet. It's a truly wonderful thing he's done because after the "yes" comes much hard work from him and his staff to come up with music and the proper audio equipment to allow these instruments to be fully integrated.

In the end, these two bands are as similar as they are dissimilar. There is no real rivalry between the members of the two bands, just a common goal of musical and entertainment excellence and the intense feeling of being a part of something bigger than yourself. And school spirit, of course. As for the music and performances, the bands will knock 'em down, let the fans sort it out. Thanks for all the support from both schools' fans.

Posted by: Green Fuel | February 21, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Very well said!
So here is what I have to say

GREEN FUEL for Pres. 08

Posted by: TTL PKG | February 21, 2008 9:30 PM | Report abuse

And for my first act as President, I shall degree that I can never get another speeding ticket. And I'd abolish Mondays...=)

Posted by: Green Fuel | February 22, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

oops, I meant "decree"...TTL PKG's grammar disease is contagious...=)

Posted by: Green Fuel | February 22, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse



For someone who did guard and runs a band organization, I find your comment about a band supporting the tennis team being comparable to supporting the guard to be... well... silly and ridiculous. I think anyone who knows anything about the history of marching bands and colorguards could tell you why.

First: guards are typically VERY closely related if not completely incorporated as part of the band program at most high schools and universities because they are a PART of the visual ensemble for any marching band that may be present. Winterguard is an activity that stemmed from marching colorguard, which is an activity that evolved from military colorguards and drill teams to provide visual appeal to marching bands. It is only logical for a band program to support a guard; especially if there is or will be a marching band. The answer to your question is simple: colorguards and bands have evolved directly together over the past hundred years or so, while tennis and band have no such direct ties.

Second: it is true that Doc has given us his support because he's attempting to build a guard base for the marching band we hope GMU will one day have. (He flat out told us that if we didn't want to be a part of what he is trying to build, then he'd go out and build his own separate guard.) BUT he also supports us as our own individual entity (winterguard) that is completely separate and independent of musicians because he feels that any university's guard program is just something the university's band program should have some responsibility for. Having gotten to know the man very well over the past year, I believe he would continue to support us even if he were told by the university that he'd never be able to build a marching band and therefore never have use of us as part of his musical ensemble.

Also, think about this: When today's high school guard members see VCU's Affinity 4 Winterguard at AIA competition, they see a guard program that is built like the one they're in. That is, they assume that the guard is part of the band program and supported by it. Therefore, most likely, if they see a bad performance, they associate it with an unsupportive, poorly funded or poorly built band program.

How could this possibly directly affect you and VCU's music program? Well, at Mason, all of the guard members were musicians in high school. Our own coach is a music major at GMU. The strong musical background is true of MANY colorguard members, including yourself.

So, by not helping your resident guard put a good show on the floor, you could actually be hurting the draw to your own music program as many guard people who plan to major or minor in music will look for a school with a good music program AND a guard with good prospects.

And never forget that the guard community is rather large and ever-growing and that people talk and share their opinions with others...

Posted by: GMUgrdgrl | February 23, 2008 1:54 AM | Report abuse

What is there to say... I agree with you completely. I would never say they are not directly related. And I give you and the band praise for the support you give one another.

Posted by: TTL PKG | February 23, 2008 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Firstly, I would like to thank the members of the RamBand and leader Ryan "TTL PKG", for what they've given us; namely another band to actually be considered a rival with. Typically, we have in the GMU Pep Band-turned-Green Machine have been subjected by nothing more than flash-and-trash pep bands throughout the course of the numerous tournament games we have played in over the past four years in particular; in comparison especially during last year's listening and cross-court battling at the CAA championship I have never had a more enjoyable musical pep-band experience.

The bands of UNC, Michigan St., UCONN, Florida, UCLA, and LSU each have their own style and sound which caters to their audience, but the majority of music I listened to these other ensembles play falls into one of two categories: School Traditionals (fight songs, alma maters, and cliché crowd cheerleading songs such as "Let's Go Band") which have their place and importance but really do lack the "it" factor that would actually make you want to listen to more than 3 seconds of it, and secondly all to often esoteric charts to suit the tastes of the musicians, and their stuck-up administrators and directors which more often than not rarely translate well in suiting the needs of a lively competitive basketball atmosphere; an example of this being LSU's literature choice for the 2006 Final Four Battle of the Bands being a Baton Rouge style rag-chart featuring an awesome, but inaudible trombone soloist playing and dancing in front; it would not surprise me to hear stories of similar nature from VCU band members in relation to last year's tournament (nice job on Duke by the way).

It is avoidances of literature choices such as these that separates our ensembles from the lot of what I feel are generally overrated groups at schools in more competitive conferences; there is something to be said for tradition and for playing charts geared for the listening interests of one's home fan base, however the sound and song selections of the Green Machine as well that of the RamBand encompasses a much broader and interesting set of genres, and styles thus making them more appealing I feel to the average college basketball fan. I will openly admit as a trombonist, I am envious of the testicular fortitude sound your brass section puts out every year; on the flip side though I also appreciate the warmer sounds and at times more true to life sounding arrangements the Green Machine produces by means of its expanded instrumentation and timbres.

All these considerations of who is better aside, the question at hand is really geared at the choice of director, and to what extent their very distinct personas in combination with their musical and administrative knowledge and skill suit their respective universities. GMU has been at the top of the Princeton Review's list for most diverse institution for the past several years, and in this diverse mindset Nickens diversified the instrumentation to suit the flavor and persona of our school, much I am sure TTL PKG has done in his selections for the RamBand in terms of suiting the listening interests of the audience and students of Richmond.

And to put the issue to what I hope will prove an end at least until Monday, March 10, 2008, each director has his own style and set of tricks/gimmicks whatever you would like to call them, accept them for what they are and stop being such a pretentious waste of space of this webpage.

Nickens does not walk around campus or teach his classes in a pimp suit, much the same way I'm sure Ryan doesn't spend his office hours standing on his desk, and practice taking his clothes off.

These things are done for the thrill and enjoyment of the audience, and you say what you want... THEY WORK, the fact that this is the umpteenth time that this conversation has come up in blog form is proof enough.
At the end of the day, you have your band and your crowd wouldn't want to have any other; and the same goes for us with ours. If you're dead set on proving who's number one, then it's time to tell the CAA board to host a Battle of the Bands, because frankly a website or blog forum that strangely only seems to be known to the VCU fans and names their band the best every year sounds like little more than an excuse to bring a trophy to the game with you, when all is said and done. As for the Green Machine our trophy hangs from the rafters in the form of our Final Four banner, and while we would love to put the issue to rest in a real competition, for now the best we can do is enjoy our rivalry, and talk a little smack, and ask ourselves the question: would this really be as much fun without the other?

My answer is no, and thus I encourage all you bloggers to bleed your green, or black (everyone bleeds gold in this conference; TIME TO GET SOME SILVER), and at the end of the day stop worrying about who's number one; PLAY YOUR HORN, root for your team, and encourage your directors whether it be Nickens, Ryan, or some other in the conference to organize a Battle of the Bands for next year. Based upon all the blogging I've seen on this board regardless of your institution (JMU excluded naturally) we have all mastered use of the keyboard, SO GET TYPING THOSE LETTERS!

Posted by: Final IV Tbone | February 26, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

While I have never seen the VCU Band, there is absolutely NO WAY they can be better than GMU Pep. Sounds to me like VCU is afraid of a little competition, and are a little scared, just be quiet and do your talking at the Tournament.......

The violin section ROCKS, they should bring the WHOLE Orchestra to the game!

My favorites are shelly and the Green Bay Packers Fan!! GO GIRLS

Posted by: fleist | February 27, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse


VCU claims to be the "best band in the CAA" for the past 8 years.

Where exactly is this "competition" taking place? I haven't seen any polls on CAA Zone or otherwise...

This question has yet to be answered by anyone! If VCU's band is only boasting this as a self-titled award, then I say it needs to be put to rest with a real competition. If not, then let's see some real proof, people!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 27, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I am a graduate of GMU and can say that I'm glad I'm no longer in the pep band... it has gotten out of control. Does it have better tunes? Yes. Is there more energy from the members? Yes. Has it gotten a little "cartoon-ish"? Yes. For the fact that the band "director" is being called a pimp should be an insult to the school and students part of the pep band. It's all a gimmick people - what pep band needs 50+ members in it? Is it becoming a marching band? Oh wait, GMU can't have a marching band... no football team. Do we need a drum line? And what does color guard have to do with basketball?

I had fun attending the Final 4 with a student run band, we had a blast, and we seemed to carry on just fine. I feel Doc Nix is getting way too much attention, last time I checked he's "faculty", not a student. A line needs to be drawn where the coolness factor doesn't matter for a grown adult... I'm not hating, afterall I was part of the group. I was part of the group when we were just the pep band having fun yelling "suck on this" after free throws. I was part of the pep band when it wasn't a class, it was a job (we got paid) and the members treated it as that. I was part of the pep band when it wasn't filled with wanna-be's who hope to go to the Final 4. I wonder, if GMU never went to the Final 4 would the pep band be the same old pep band from 3 years ago? Just because our basketball team has stepped up doesn't mean the pep band should feel the need to compete with that.

I'm a little sad that now other schools are making fun of fellow band nerds... don't we get made fun of enough? I do agree the use of some (un-named) instruments can be a little rediculous. Let's not hate on fellow band geeks please.

PS Living on a Prayer is not over played... it's like saying the fight song is over played... they go hand in hand. I even conduct the 4/4 to 3/4 part in bars (yes, I'll go there... I'm a music teacher), it will be with me forever and I'm glad that's the memory I have of the pep band. Not a pimp being my band "director".

Posted by: Glad to be Gone | February 27, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Glad to be Gone, we're glad you're gone, too. Win-win.

Posted by: Green Fuel | February 28, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Green Fuel,
Obviously you aren't friends with many almuni because you would know that most of us are glad to gone from the zoo known as the "green machine". The group looks like a bunch of monkeys in the stands at games. I do enjoy the music selection (I stated that in my first comment) and I think the energy is awesome. It's funny because there are people who beg me to come back and play, so not that many people are glad I'm gone.

I have students who attend the games and state how silly the band looks especially the director. Way to be leaders for children to look up to, sure they're only in middle school but one day they will be in college, who knows, maybe GMU, and as of now the pep band is a huge turn off to them and their families. How do families explain to their children what a pimp is? My students read the Washington Post in their homeroom classes and there have been other articles about Doc Nix... one of the early ones headlined as "Pimp and Circumstance", it was not a positive write-up.

I do agree with the fact that no student should be turned down, as music teachers we encourage all talents but at some point someone needs to think about the integrity of the group. I don't know what the rules are now but when I was in the pep band only 25 members were allowed to attend tournament games; if that has changed then power to the band for having so many people. However what are you going to say to those 25 or so members if they're not allowed to attend tournament trips? "Oh sorry, you've been giving tons of effort all year and I know you signed up for this class but you can't go on the trip with us hope you understand."


Posted by: Glad to be Gone | February 28, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse


As far as your friends still in the band wanting you to come back and play, that's because they have fun in the new group and want you to continue to be a part of it. You are already part of the Big Green Family whether you acknowledge it or not and your friends want you to come back, not to hear you play or because the group is in dire need of augmented instrumentation, but because they're your friends and they like spending time with you and miss you.

You were lucky when you played and enjoyed quite a ride with the team. You will always think of that as the good ole days and rightly so. It's like hearing and loving a cover version of an 80's tune and finally hearing the original and hating it. This is what you knew first, so you love it. It's what you experienced and were an integral part of, so you're proud of it.

Many people are not comfortable with change and either make fun of or hate those things that are out of their control. I think in some way, you feel like all the effort you put into the band during your time at Mason is being overlooked and buried by the GreenMachine. You spent time developing the roots of tradition, and those traditions, such as "GMU says suck these nuts," (explain that to the same kids you are forcing your definition of pimp on) while rooted in good old college fun are for the student section, not as a representative body of the university. The student-run band did it's thing and laid the foundation for what we are doing now. No one is trying to take anything away from that. I just don't get your comment about the "wanna-be's who just want to get to the final four." Just like it was in your day, I would say that there are little to no members in the band that are there because we might make this or that tournament. The final four was great, but it's over, it's the past. We are supporting the team now, to whatever outcome and we have a blast doing it, just like you did. I doubt you or your band-mates were motivated to be there by the team's success (it was probably the few bucks you could make to pay for food, if it's anything like what it was in my day). Which reminds me, we're not trying to "compete with the team's success," just supporting them, because they support us. We can't compete with them we're on the same team!

Let's all just be real about this for once. The reason the student-run band is gone is because the administration and faculty at the university that are trying to make great things happen, (who were there long before and will be there for long after) decided that student cheers like "suck on that," bull-sh*t," and that mentioned above were not the best public and nation-wide representation of GMU. They had things in mind that your band didn't think of like what parents would think about sending their kids to a school where the only exposure on TV they've seen is the band screaming obscenities. Would the band be the same if you didn't make it to the final four? No. The band would have never been the same, all things change. Would you have Doc there, no. The job would probably not have been created. While were following this logic, though, I'd like to ponder could I have been a parking lot attendant? Could I have been a millionaire in Bel Air? You get the point, it's all irrelevant. You did whatever you wanted and said what you wanted, now deal with the consequences.

Yes, the band is a class now. Basketball band is a class at just about every major university in the country, we're not doing anything new here, just updating to the way it was 20 years ago. Now you can get an ensemble credit for what you were already doing. We are getting more scholarships every year so that we can take care of our members financially, as well. As for Doc, as my good friend would say (also an alumni from your time), hater hater hater. Bands are entertainment at sporting events. It's not our show, it's the team's and people get entertainment during dead time from the supporters, cheer, dance, and band. As entertainers, it's important not to take yourself too seriously. Fun. Excitement. Energy. Rock and Roll! That's what Doc is bringing in that cheap plastic cane that he sports for the fans. He's taking a style from media stereotypes of pimps and making it his own. You wouldn't say a guy with a beard and no mustache is trying to be Abe Lincoln (I wonder if he steers clear of theaters, though). He's not acting like a pimp. You don't see him strutting around the court during a timeout with a Masonette on each arm soliciting a dance for some lucky fan. It's stage make-up, it's outlandish and awesome. He's bringing music with a style all his own and just about everyone loves it. Doc is getting attention because the band is becoming more than it ever was and is getting national acclaim. Again, not taking away from what you did, just recognizing the new blood, direction, and sheer spirit of the group.

It's no doubt your students scoff at the show the band puts on now, they have you as a director and I'm sure you've let your opinion slip on the subject. And don't think that those kids don't hang on every word you have to say, because they do. I know. Even if not, middle-schoolers don't think ANYTHING is cool. Poor kids, what an awkward age.

The rules have changed. There is now no limit to the amount of members in a band at the tournament, no limitations on plugging in. We take whoever wants to go. Everything you think we're not thinking of has been thought of, re-thought of, written down, discussed, agonized over, typed, spelled out in Scrabble pieces, discussed again, re-re-thought of, put on the "Jump to Conclusions" board, and ultimately decided upon taking into account the best interests of the school and students.

GMU does have a football team, a club team. We are proud to support them at every home game, just as they support us. Even if we didn't have a team, though, who says you need a football team to have a marching band? Or a guard? Or a drum line? All these groups are related to each other. All these groups are opportunities desired by students, made possible by the hard working faculty, staff, and student leaders in the music department. They are all activities that should be available to any college student attending a major university. It turns out there are some pretty talented young men and women at Mason. The music department is creating opportunities for them to shine, that's all.

In the end, love it or hate it, these are the way things are. You had a great ride and made life-long friends and had a blast doing it when you were here. The way you had a positive experience is no longer the way it is, but positive experiences are still being forged in new ways. The GreenMachine isn't better than what you did back in your day, just different and more in sync with what the leaders of this university feel a representative school group should be. We still have great people, some of whom you are still clearly your friends. That's what makes the group outstanding. In the end, you are entitled to your opinion, but don't hate on what the group does now, because nobody hates on what you did back then. Ultimately, I find it indicative that were Doc to read your posts, he'd just be sad and miss one of the people who truly built this band being a part of his or her own legacy.

Don't worry. When you get married, you find out that you're not always right...=)

Posted by: Green Fuel | February 28, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Ur mom is in the pep band...

Posted by: Green Fuel | February 29, 2008 12:57 AM | Report abuse

dear glad to be gone:

i thought that the former banD members, who "gOt paid and the members treated it as that" didN't make enough moNey? at leAst not to show up on time?

you've made some pretty contradictory statements. be careful you don't confuse "monkeys" with your friends that are apparently begging your return.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 29, 2008 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Green Fuel-

Actually, your mom isn't in the pep band. And I'm guessing that GTBG's mom isn't either. But Doc's mom comes to sit with us sometimes! And we love it! :)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 29, 2008 1:31 AM | Report abuse

I didn't post that Mom comment. Some one else did with my name. Classy.

Posted by: Green Fuel | February 29, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Funny... I think all of this has gotten out of hand. As a performer in the pepband, I go to see games, and support my team. (and the fact that I'm on scholarship) We have a pep band. I'm just glad that I can play my instrument, and watch the games!

It's pretty silly to have a competition on this. It's Obvious that Doc Nix has a big picture for the pep band, and he is doing what he wants with it. So what if we have a Oboe Soloist, Contra Bassoon, and a Vocoder? This, in my opinion is Doc's band, and it's also obvious that he is being very equal with the people who he has in his band.

Put yourself in this situation. Say you play the bag pipes. Say your a College Basketball fan. Say you love playing the bag pipes and that you want to incorporate both of your passions in one. You, as a bagpiper, go up to Doc Nix and say "You know, I really love your band, and I love our basketball team. I'd really like to play in pepband."
What do you think Doc would say? I'd have a feeling he'd throw him a jersey and say "You're in!"

As far as the pimp suits, thats just Doc being Doc. It's very hard not to judge us. but what we really are doing, is just our thing. Leave us alone!

OOp! There I go!

Posted by: Sax and Violins | February 29, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

You know what--I think that bagpipes in the pep band would be SWEET. Especially if they were green, or if the player wore a green and gold kilt. I know that our sound guy Zeke would LOVE IT, because he sometimes wears a kilt too.

Can't you just hear bagpipes in the Krypton Fanfare? HAHA! Thoughts?

Posted by: a Green Machine member | February 29, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

*OOp! There I go!*

Love the "Finding Nemo" shoutout.

Posted by: Green Fuel | February 29, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Well, the bagpipes were just a scenario. What have I just started??? haha

But my point was, equal. Doc is a very equal person, and he has no problem giving everyone a ride in his GreenMachine.

I just don't understand that if someone who has no problem letting anyone in his band, should be ridiculed!

Posted by: Sax and Violins | February 29, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Well this has been fun to read... Well I started with Mason basketball back in the hey days of "Coach's Son!" 2000-2001 season... I can say that VCU has ALWAYS had a very talented band. The director at first I thought was a little... well nuts. I actually had a few drinks with him and some of his buddies over the years in Richmond and they are nice guys and the band still is good...

That being said, I know where this GMU band has come from... Through the Ricky Gellecki years, to the improvement of the band starting with Tim Wildman...Kevin Theilman... and now Doc Nix. You CAN NOT say this band has not been the BEST improved this decade in the CAA. and as one poster had mentioned that the CAA brings a 'different' feel to the term Pep Band, they are 100% right.

If you didnt like being in the band, or the way things were changing... you were in it for the wrong reasons. Why is it called a Pep Band... it's to help the TEAM...the main reason you are there... improve their play. A band, cheerleaders are all there for the TEAM. You pump the crowd up... and in turn pump up the team.

Next weekend in Richmond, it's going to be one hell of a tournament. BOTH bands will bring their best because thats what they know how to do. Hopefully in the end we will be screaming that familiar chant I helped start in Boise Idaho 7 years ago... G - M - U.... WHAT!?

VCU Good luck... hope to see you Monday Night.

Posted by: GMU WHAT Drummer | March 1, 2008 8:07 PM | Report abuse

No one is going to say another school has a better band than their own... So why doesn't the CAA hold a battle of the bands? High school's and middle school's have festivals why can't a college pep band? I'm sure it would only take some nicely worded letters to CAA officials to have this take place. Hello - money maker anyone? The winning band could get some $$ towards their group.

Posted by: Wishful Thinking | March 2, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Guys and Gals,
It's not me, so go find the correct person. I ran into someone at the mall today who asked me about this, I find it all kind of funny. My roommate sent me the link to this which is how I found it. To those in the pep band, I don't even know most of you! I was in it for 1 year and part of my 2nd year however I was out most of the time due to an illness. Best of luck, leave me out of this please.

Posted by: Donna | March 5, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

VCU's pep band does not compare. Why does VCU try so hard and fall so short?

Posted by: AXID GMU | March 5, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

LOL @ VCU 89!!

How green you are with envy!

Posted by: ZoneAdmin - | March 8, 2008 9:27 PM | Report abuse

The Doc rules and the stripper drools.

Our pep band AND our team have proven to be better than stinky VCU THIS DAY when VCU LOST to W&M and GMU BEAT UNCW.

Glad you're sick of "Livin' on a Prayer" THAT'S WHY WE DO IT

Posted by: PROVEN | March 9, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

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