Sound of Today ready for halftime show under new director Allen Parrish

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Posted on September 23, 2021

Allen Parrish is the new director of the track and field orchestras at the University of Louisiana Monroe and an assistant professor in the School of Visual and Performing Arts. Parrish hopes to grow the Sound of Today Marching Band from 120 to 200 or more members. Siddharth Gaulee / ULM photo services

“If my people are to be here, I want to be here with them. I am not in the shade.

Allen Parrish, director of the ULM bands

On the training ground with the Sound of Today Marching Band

By Mark Henderson

Special at the University of Louisiana Monroe

It is 97 in the shade. It’s 108 degrees. But there is no shade to be found at the Sound of Today Marching Band ULM training ground. The heat is wreaking havoc at the start of the September afternoon.

Crisscrossing the field, a man in a sports cap and ULM jersey guides the musicians through precision routines. That’s Allen Parrish, DMA, the new director of sports groups and an assistant professor in the School of Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Louisiana Monroe.

“If my people are to be here, I want to be here with them. I’m not standing in the shade, ”Parrish said.

The band take regular water breaks and Parrish frequently reminds their musicians, “You are so much more important than a hole in a line. Take care of yourself.”

When the break is over, the musicians return to the training ground, take their positions and leave. It’s a good performance, and Parrish takes the group to their next set.

Practices in the sweltering heat of summer are paying off.

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Allen Parrish

The Sound of Today was in phase and in phase for the 8-minute halftime show in the Warhawks’ opener at home – a win over visiting Jackson State.

Parrish says his musicians are ready for the second home game on Saturday at 7 p.m. when the Troy Trojans call. SOT’s second half show features Latin pop.

Parrish admits to pushing the band with new music and new moves – and he loves what he sees.

“The strength of this group lies in their hard work ethic and their desire to be better,” he said.

Parrish received his doctorate in musical arts from Southern Mississippi University. Before joining ULM, Parrish taught bass brass lessons at a community college.

He was hired by ULM in March and has been on campus since June. Parrish had time to think about what he wanted to bring to the group even before officially taking the reins of Sound of Today on August 9.

“Music comes first. And you should have music that the audience will enjoy. The students told me they wanted something to tie all the music together, ”Parrish said.

At the same time, the music should be something the band can walk on.

“This is possibly the hardest music they’ve ever played,” Parrish said. “At the same time, many students tell me it’s the best time they’ve ever had because they’re being challenged.

ULM’s instrumental music majors are part of the group as part of their scholarship requirements. Of the group’s nearly 120 players, however, 70 to 80 percent are non-musical majors.

Participating non-majors are eligible for scholarships and grants. They can also earn up to two credits.

“We have a lot of strong players in each section,” Parrish said. “I rely on juniors and seniors, and my section heads, to work with first year students to bring them up to speed. ”

Parrish has a three to four year plan to make the group sound bigger, with a goal of over 200 players over the next several years.

He intends to create a quality product that people will want to join, to use out-of-state tuition waivers to attract high school musicians from Arkansas, to spend time in the high schools to recruit talent and invite students to the ULM campus.



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