NCCU band marches on despite thefts

Any student who has seen the movie "Drumline" would applaud Duke for lending instruments to North Carolina Central University's marching band last weekend.

Using instruments borrowed from Duke and other organizations, the 250-man NCCU Marching Sound Machine participated in the high-energy Battle of the Bands in Atlanta's Georgia Dome Saturday despite losing 14 sousaphones and other instruments in thefts during the past three months.

Duke's Director of Athletic Bands Jeffrey Au said he contacted NCCU after he learned about the band's situation.

"Someone in the music department mentioned it to me, and then I saw it in the paper as well," he said. "I just called up [NCCU Band Director] Jorim Reid and asked if they were still needing the sousaphones, and they were."

Au said he was aware that the NCCU marching band was preparing for their Battle of the Bands performance, and he wanted to help them out.

Replacing the sousaphones with new instruments would have cost at least $3,000 to $4,000 per instrument.

"It's not that common but sometimes [thefts] happen," he said. "Its just the luck of the draw."

NCCU students in the marching band said they were unsure how the large wearable tubas could have been stolen.

"I don't really understand how someone could have gotten them," one freshman band member said. "They had to know something because it doesn't make any sense."

Band members were confident the use of the borrowed instruments did not affect their performance in the Battle of the Bands. The annual event showcases ten of the best marching bands from historically black colleges and universities.

"I think it made us work harder," the student added. "It wasn't intimidating or anything like I thought it was going to be. I was nervous at first, but I felt good when I got out there."

Freshman band member Garrick Brown agreed that the borrowed instruments had not affected their performance, but said he had been told not to comment on the stolen instruments.

"We did just as well as we would have," he said. "It was a great experience and we performed very well.

NCCU spokesman Miji Bell said an announcement after the performance thanked Duke and other groups for loaning their instruments and added that the school would look into purchasing replacement instruments.

Reid could not be reached for comment.

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