March 12, 2013
It has been said many times that the marching band is the most visible branch of a university.
If you attend Saluki football or basketball games, or perhaps one of the parades in the area, you probably appreciate our Marching Salukis and the pep band as much as I do. These are really talented musicians and performers. And with all of those public appearances, these students are among our most important ambassadors.
George Brozak makes sure the band members never lose sight of that responsibility. As director of athletic bands and assistant director of bands in the School of Music, George directs our symphonic band, the Marching Salukis, and the pep band. And he admits the members of the Marching Salukis – who also make up the pep band -- must adhere to “almost a military code.”
“I am always mindful of good behavior. I don’t allow any form of impropriety. It has been said many times that the marching band is the most visible branch of a university. They must represent their school well.”
That is why you won’t see a band member “marching around half-dressed,” as George puts it. When they are in uniform, they are in full uniform – though they can take their hats off occasionally. Men must shave. No swearing allowed while in uniform.
George joined the SIU family in 2009. The Ohio native earned all three of his degrees in music education and taught in Ohio public schools for eight years. His collegiate experience includes the University of South Carolina, Tennessee Technological University, and the University of Illinois.
George is a percussionist by trade, and he has authored articles in several prestigious journals devoted to bands and to music education. His writing talents also extended to the entertainment field. George sold stories to Paramount Studios that became episodes of the Star Trek television series “Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager” and “The Next Generation.”
While he enjoyed that brush with fame, George never wavered from his childhood dream of teaching music. Like many of us, he was inspired to follow in the footsteps of a teacher, in this case, his very first music teacher.
It is clear George also is an inspiration. When he first came to SIU, there were 54 students in the Marching Salukis. Today, there are 100, and 80 percent are non-music majors. They come from 58 different majors, from accounting to zoology, and they share a love of – and affinity for -- music
They also share a willingness to work hard. They have to participate in band camp the week before school starts in August, and the days run 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Once the school year starts, George makes sure classes come first, so they rehearse several late afternoons and evenings each week.
Each home football game means a new show, and George makes sure they are carefully scripted. During basketball season, the 52-member pep band plays at all home men’s and women’s games – 25 in all.
The next time you enjoy a performance by the Marching Salukis or the pep band, I hope you will remember the tremendous dedication of these students and their director. And maybe clap just a little bit louder. I know I will.