Eau Claire (WQOW) – Sixty members made up the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugold Marching Band in 1999. Since then, the band has grown, not only in size, but in song and in style.
“Every year I find myself looking at the band saying, ‘We’re not finished yet,'” said Dr. Randy Dickerson. Dickerson is a professor of music and director of the Blugold Marching Band.
For decades, Dickerson has directed the BMB.
“It’s quite a milestone,” said Dickerson. “You know, I came here 20 years ago with a very different band than I’ve got now.”
The band hit a record-size for this region, with 475 marching members.
“I found it very difficult for the first three years to develop a marching culture,” said Dickerson. “Then it started getting better about the fourth year. I started realizing that, yes, there is a lot of potential here. We can do something here. That’s when I really decided I am going to stick this out and see what can be developed here.”
The band is a team composed of many majors, but harmonized in their love for music.
“They are all here just because they want to be here,” said Dickerson.
The BMB continues to hit the right notes for Dickerson.
“Before I got here, I was at the University of Illinois and I was an administrator and I was in the dean’s office,” said Dickerson. “I really wanted to deal more individually with students. More with ensembles and more with music again. I got here, I didn’t know how long it would last, how things would go, but as soon as I got here, I realized the students here are really good.”
He said those students are the reason he keeps coming back, but the marching musicians said the reason they stick around is because of Dickerson.
“Dr. D is, he’s wonderful. He brings such a great energy, positive vibe, enthusiasm, creativity,” said student Eleanor Sladek.
“Also he has just an incredible vision that I believe he does an amazing job putting on the field for all of us,” said student Anna Loughridge.
“He has all these stories and all these life lessons that we all really take to heart, that allows to become better marchers on the field and better people off the field,” said student Andrew Akey.
“This band is really everything to him and it means a lot to us too,” said student Michael St. Ores. “So, for us, being lead by somebody who consistently gives so much to this ensemble it doesn’t make it all that difficult to us to demand the same thing out of ourselves in a rehearsal setting or during a performance.”
Some ask Dickerson, how long will you stay?
“I have no answer to that. I’m going to stay here as long as I enjoy what I am doing. And I love what I am doing.”