Leadership Corner

john leddyThe Director's Corner
Building Tradition
John Leddy
February 8, 2012, Volume 9, Issue 1

How do you build a tradition? When the band was created, we wanted to build traditions and to become an institution on the Stony Brook University campus. It wasn’t enough for us to get a marching band up and running. No, the band had to become immortal, timeless. So that people couldn’t imagine life on campus without it.  Well, two things needed to fall into place for that to happen. First, we needed committed, enthusiastic, eager students to join the band and help to sell us as "the coolest group on campus," to quote original band member Pamela (Sheryll) Pfeil. If those students could manage to sell the marching band to other students, staff, and faculty we would grow and become a vital group that the Stony Brook community would love and support. We were indeed fortunate to have the moon and stars align, and to have all the right students and staff come together to make that happen. I’m proud of them and grateful that they made the band an indispensable Stony Brook institution.

The second factor was our teams. If the band created a great atmosphere at the games, perhaps we could inspire our athletes to greater success.  I know we have great coaches, who do an amazing job recruiting talent and training our teams, but the band takes pride in helping to make Stony Brook a difficult place for other teams to visit.  And we like to think our athletes play better when they know we are behind them at every game. Well, we have proof that things are working our fine! Both Newsday and the New York Times have mentioned the band, and the great college game day atmosphere we provide, on more than one occasion in articles they have published. Most recently, during our football teams’ march to the NCAA playoffs this past fall, the Times published an article titled "Stony Brook Arrives, Marching Band and All." I hope you take a chance to read it. It’s a pleasure to see Stony Brook get recognition for our great teams, our fine band and the great atmosphere of pride at Stony Brook.  I hope you get to a basketball game before the season ends. If you do, be sure to say hello and cheer along with the band! It’s a Stony Brook tradition.

The Director’s Corner
Revving up 2011
John Leddy
September 13, 2011, Volume 8, Issue 1

I’m very excited to say that we successfully completed our sixth band camp and as we get set to begin another academic year at Stony Brook I’d like to invite you all to make plans to join us at LaValle Stadium this season for great Stony Brook football action. You’ll find that exciting college game day atmosphere right here exists right here on Long Island so include us in your weekend plans. Next, I’d like to thank all of you for your continued support on game day and beyond. You inspire our students to play their best and they put on a great show when you are there.

We are excited to announce that we have been invited to march in the Columbus Day Parade in New York City on October 10. The parade committee indicated that getting good college bands to participate in the parade was a priority for them and they have guaranteed that we have TV exposure that day. If you can’t join us, we hope you watch live or set your DVRs. The parade will be broadcast on ABC Channel 7 in New York from 12:00–3:00 pm.

We will have so many other great things happening at Stony Brook as the year unfolds including our first Athletic Bands tailgate, our Madison Square Garden debut and our end of year banquet. Be sure to keep following the band, read your Growler and plan to join us this year.

The Director’s Corner

A Year in Reflection
John Leddy
July 5, 2011, Volume 7, Issue 3

In the mid 90's my friend Jerry Zaffuts, invited me to participate as a student in the Summer Jazz Institute he ran at Skidmore College in Saratoga, NY. It was a transformative experience for me as I worked closely with drumming great Ed Shaughnessy from The Tonight Show, bass icon Milt Hinton and others. Afterward, I called Jerry to thank him and I asked him how he had come to put together this extraordinary jazz camp each summer. His answer surprised me; he said it grew out of his long held desire to always associate with musicians who were better than him.

Jerry had it right. He was a life-long learner, always striving to learn from the best in his field. I took Jerry's words to heart and today I am fortunate to find myself at Stony Brook University where I associate with the best and the brightest every day - the best of the present and the future.

Allow me to take a moment to share what I mean and to acknowledge the accomplishments of our staff and students.  Assistant Dean of Students, Jeffrey Barnett, continues to be our academic leader while continuing his own studies at Stony Brook; Coordinator of Athletic Bands, Shayna Stahl, was recently awarded a grant by the College Band Directors National Association to study conducting at the prestigious Hartt School of Music this summer; Colorguard Instructor, Jennifer Bigus completed her Masters Degree in Medical Microbiology and is pursuing admittance to dental school; founding band member, Navneet Singh, just completed his MBA at Stony Brook and is now off to medical school.

Our recent graduates are now moving with their post Stony Brook lives. I wish them all the best in the future and I feel confident that they are well prepared to succeed in these difficult times.  While some will be entering the job market, others will be continuing their education in law school, medical school and a variety of other fine graduate programs.  I’m proud of them all and I look forward to hearing of their future accomplishments.

It’s fair to say that here at Stony Brook, we are all surrounded by gifted, intelligent and accomplished faculty, staff and students.  I feel lucky to be associated with you all and thankful that I listened to my friend Jerry's admonition. It's great to be a Stony Brook student and it's great to be in the band!

sean hoffmanThe President’s Corner
The SPIRIT Goes On
Sean Hoffman
April 6, 2011, Volume 7, Issue 2

Within a few short years, the Spirit of Stony Brook has established itself as a force on campus. While it is most known for the energy it brings to the school, the organization continues to foster leaders through the promotion of student involvement and personal development. 

This process begins with a professional staff intent on seeing the members of the Spirit of Stony Brook succeed not only as Band members, but as students and as individuals. Members are empowered to share ideas, take risks, ask questions, and accept new levels of responsibility during their tenure with the Band.

Extremely important to the emergence of student leaders is the nurturing and family oriented environment surrounding the Band. Within this environment, students can be free to step out of their comfort zone and take risks, knowing that they will have the full support and guidance of their mentors and peers.

Although everyone must move on to another chapter of their lives, the Spirit will always be with them. My time spent with the Band has taught me lessons of perseverance, dedication, integrity, friendship, and family. But most importantly, it has taught me that in order to succeed in life, you must not be afraid to fail. By providing me with opportunities to take risks and learn from them, the Spirit of Stony Brook has allowed me to grow as a leader and as an individual, and has instilled a Spirit in me that I will carry for the rest of my life.

The Color Guard Corner
It may be snowy outside,
but the SBU Color Guard is still RED HOT!

Jennifer Bigus
February 7, 2011, Volume 7, Issue 1

The Stony Brook University Color Guard truly hit the ground running when they arrived on campus this past August for band camp.  The Color Guard's hard work paid off as we increased our repertoire to incorporate multiple flags, batons, rifles, wings, swing flags, poms, dance and tumbling into the halftime shows during the football season. 

The Color Guard psyched up the basketball crowds with performances to songs by Weezer and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  The momentum has continued into spring semester.  We are in the midst of planning our second annual Color Guard and Drumline Showcase on April 29th, following the Earthstock festivities at the Staller Steps. 

The spring showcase will be exploding with talent!  The Color Guard will be performing as a team to The Mumford and Sons and as several smaller acts to songs from Kesha, Panic! At the Disco, Rent, Florence and the Machine, Beyonce, Jack's Mannequin and more.  These acts will include all of the equipment used to visually stun the crowds during football season with the addition of Drum Line/Color Guard collaborations, a weapons exclusive routine, Rob's breakdancing, Mario and Jake's saber skills and Mary's belly dancing.  


The Director's Corner
A Look to the Past with an Eye for the Future
John Leddy
August 6, 2010, Volume 6, Issue 1

What a year it was! I've been talking about it all summer and I think it’s a story worthy of our reflection.  The 2009-2010 year was an historic year for Stony Brook Athletics and the band was right in the middle of the action!  We have always said that we needed to perfect our “act” whether in LaValle Stadium or Pritchard Gym because “one day” we’re going to be playing for big, enthusiastic crowds.  Well, that happened last year and I’m proud to say that we were ready for our close-up! 

Our teams were winning championships and gaining national exposure, and that meant national coverage for our band. I'm most proud that when our men’s basketball team hosted the NIT game in our Arena which was broadcast on ESPN, the bloggers of the America East Conference all commented on how our great college game atmosphere came through on the broadcast.  That was no accident – our band and spirit squads worked hard to create that atmosphere.

So what about the upcoming year? Certainly, Athletics hopes that they have even more success than last year.  Our commitment is to continue to grow, improve and create the most exciting college game day in the northeast and to make Stony Brook a difficult place for play for visiting teams.  I look forward to stepping it up this fall and I encourage all parents and friends of the band to come out on game day to cheer on the Seawolves and the “Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band”! 

The Drumline Corner
Building Foundations
Nicholas Gleason
April 15, 2010, Volume 5, Issue 3

First off, I am extremely excited to be working with the Spirit of Stony Brook as the percussion instructor.  This fulfills a goal I’ve always had, to teach percussion in a collegiate setting.  I entered college with a limited knowledge of the percussive world, and was lucky enough to work with a staff at the University of Massachusetts Amherst that included some of the greatest marching percussion instructors of all time.  This made me want to work to be able to return the favor at some point.

I began teaching this semester with one goal in my mind, to make the Spirit of Stony Brook percussion section as strong as I possibly could within the spring semester.  To wish to enact great change and give yourself such a meager amount of time is a challenge, but I have to say that this section has certainly been up to it.  My agenda for the semester was inherently extremely boring, full of technique exercises and timing exercises and all manors of exercises without getting into much music.  I was delighted to see the vigor with which the group approached my goals for the semester, and the progress we’ve made.  It’s been a great semester and I hope it can continue on this way!

The Director’s Corner
Bridging the Gap between High School & College Bands
John Leddy
February 16, 2010, Volume 5, Issue 1

As we mature into and move toward our fourth birthday, our Athletic Bands Program seeks to reach out to our neighboring school districts to make the connection between our collegiate and scholastic marching bands.  We have experienced tremendous growth and popularity on our campus and we know the importance of partnering with local schools, especially since local high school bands have been largely responsible for providing many of our musicians.

Last football season, we held our first Band Day.  It was a tentative step for us, but we were proud and thrilled to host two high school bands; Longwood High School Marching Band and Automotive High School Marching Band from Brooklyn.  It was a fantastic experience for our students and for the high school bands as we all joined forces in beautiful LaValle Stadium for a halftime performance during the Stony Brook vs. Brown University game.  Brown even brought their band for the day!  We are looking forward to hosting our second annual Band Day on September 25 when UMass comes to Stony Brook and we are planning to expand on last year’s success, so mark your calendars and please accept our invitation to attend!

The President's Corner
Not just a Band, It’s a Family
Anthony Gaita
November 18, 2009, Volume 4, Issue 2

Over my past four years at Stony Brook I have attained not only a love for the university but a new found family as well.  My fellow band members are my brothers and sisters and I know that I can count on them for anything.  I know that I can always turn to them for support. The most important ingredient for a successful colligate carrier is friendship. Exams come and go, but friendships last a lifetime.

I have been blessed to see this family grow from the very first 20 to now 140.  Our current success could not have been accomplished without the vision of John Leddy and the band staff. They have demonstrated qualities of leadership, loyalty and dedication that I hope to carry throughout the rest of my life.  Rapping up my senior year, I have come to realize that, if you don’t take the time to cherish who and what’s around you it will be gone in the blink of an eye.  My fellow Seawolves, carry on the dream that our 20 founding members set forth and always remember, YOU are THE SPIRIT OF STONY BROOK!

The Coordinator's Corner
New Beginnings
Shayna Stahl
October 1, 2009, Volume 4, Issue 1

I am so thrilled and excited to officially become a member of the professional staff for the marching band.  After working for the marching band as a graduate student for three years, I am so honored to be offered the position of Athletic Bands Coordinator.  As Athletic Bands Coordinator I will be fulfilling the position that an assistant director would fulfill; which includes creating and writing this year’s drill, assisting in music instruction, rehearsals, band camp coordination and lead the band in community outreach programs. 

This year I intend on assisting the band to appeal to our audience on all levels.   Through creative drill formations, and new integration of flair and choreography, the band will appeal to our audience from all field vantage points of the stadium.  This year’s pregame will not only include some new songs, some traditional songs, but will also include new drill, new flair and more detailed integration of the cheerleaders and dance team. 

I am very excited to be able to use my dance experience, college marching band experience, and my musical training to further assist John Leddy in taking the marching band to the next level of quality, quantity and entertainment.  It has been such a pleasure to work with all of you for the past three years and I am so happy to be able to continue working with such a talented group of students and staff.  I hope everyone is ready for an exciting and entertaining year, and I look forward to our upcoming Homecoming Game and the remainder of the season!

The Director's Corner
Turning the Page
John Leddy
May 22, 2009, Volume 3, Issue 2

It’s 4 p.m. on the last day of final exams and I just returned from my walk to the band space and wow! Campus is buzzing!  I’m surprised at the number of students who are still here;  students are out and about and they seem to be moving with a purpose.  No lounging at the outdoor tables, no Frisbee tosses; it’s all business out there right now.  The Staller steps are covered with students out in the beautiful weather – all silently studying; one more hour before their final exam.  Other students are spending their last food points on snacks at the deli or they’re running back and forth with luggage and saying goodbye to best friends.  Everyone is focused on what they have to do right now.

And you know what?  It reminds me of the band.  I wish I could sit back and catch my breath after a very busy year, but like our students, I find myself moving forward to the next big thing.  Allow me to take one brief moment to reflect on how proud I am that we’ve managed to grow to 110 members in three short years, and how the band has positively influenced spirit and pride on campus. (The Spirit of Stony Brook  -  indeed.)  Just one moment to thank our great and dedicated staff for all their hard work  this and every year– Shayna Stahl, Jenn Bigus, Jeff Butterfield and graduate assistant extraordinaire: Navneet Singh.  These folks have done a fantastic job and they are greatly appreciated and loved.

But in typical Stony Brook fashion, we quickly turn the page and move on to the next phase.  We will be hard at work recruiting band members this summer.  We do want to keep growing and look to reach 150 band members in the near future.  We have a cracker jack summer staff here to recruit new members and to make plans for band camp and beyond.  If you're a band member, you’ll be hearing from them in the near future.

In Athletic Bands, we realize that we are in a unique position at Stony Brook University.  We are the home of the only college marching band in New York State between here and Syracuse, and that really inspires and motivates us.  We’ll continue to strive to provide our students and community with the best atmosphere in big time college athletics.  We’ll have some surprises to introduce to our fans next year and we’re going to make Stony Brook the place to be on game day afternoons.  So be sure to plan to be with us this fall to catch the excitement as the Seawolves energize LaValle Stadium and Stony Brook University!  First home game is September 19!

The Colorguard Corner
Spinning Swagger into 2009
Jennifer Bigus
February 18, 2009, Volume 3, Issue 1

The new year is here and the Stony Brook University Color Guard has plenty of reasons to celebrate.  In the past year alone, we have doubled our membership.  Within these members you will not only find a dynamic assortment of people, majors, and interests; but also a fiercely close knit family with the best sense of humor around.  Half of the guard has no prior experience and with just two rehearsals a week, we work just as hard as we laugh. Our veteran guardies have truly reached out to our newer members and they have certainly risen to the challenge.

This year our  marching band performances have grown to incorporate multiple flag and costume changes, rifles, poms, dance and props.  For our winter guard shows, the excitement is contagious as we spin to Bob Sinclair’s “Rock This Party” and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”. All of our music is edited by the world famous DJ Dimitri. Long Island native, DJ Dimitri spins at Glo, Four, Neptunes, the World Music Conference in South Beach and broadcasts on 101.5 and 105.3fm.

If you want to be entertained, check out the Color Guard at an upcoming basketball game, philanthropy event, and Earthstock.  If you are courageous, try something new- join the Color Guard!

The Drum Major’s Corner
Leadership of the Stony Brook Marching Band
Geoffery Bansen
October 30. 2008, Volume 2, Issue 3

What a great marching band season it has been thus far, filled with fantastic events. When I think about this season and how far we are coming along, the thing that sticks out in my mind the most is the importance of leadership.

Going back to my freshman year where regular band members almost equaled the number of leadership students, it is such a great thing to have such an amazing core of leaders, especially now that our band has emerged past the 100 mark! I can tell you right now that without the great leaders that we have in our band, we would certainly not be as well off as we are. Our section leaders and band staff have helped us to progress as a marching band, giving our newer students any guidance that they may need.

Our leadership students, combined with the rest of our tremendous band students and our hard-working band staff, will continue to make the 2008 marching band season a great and memorable one!