EXCERPTS FROM “THE MAN BEHIND THE BATON” BY DR. WILLIAM P. FOSTER: Excerpt Ten – “Slowing Down But Still Pushing Forward”

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In this excerpt Dr Foster discusses tools he used to recruit for the Marching 100 and how successful these efforts proved to be over the years. He also mentions the talents of his very qualified staff and how their hard work and dedicated assistance made it possible for him to announce his retirement as Chair of the Department of Music and Director of Bands at Florida A&M University in 1998:

“In 1996, I began to feel tired. I was slowing down. However, I was caught up in my work at Florida A&M University and continued to push forward. I had an excellent staff working with me and felt that we could still get the job done. The Marching “100” Band was at the top of its game. Our fans were our greatest supporters. Still, it seemed that time was speeding up for me. The years were coming and going too rapidly. The college football season from year to year kept my staff and me busy. Dr. Julian White was doing just an outstanding job of getting the band ready for pre-game and half time shows. The band shows were better than ever. More and more fans were filling the stands to see the band. 

In recent years the number of high school students participating in the FAMU Summer Band Camp were on the increase. My staff worked diligently with the young people who attended the camp from all over the united states and the islands. Dr. Julian White oversaw our band camp and, as usual, he and the other members of my staff did outstanding work. With the availability of Marching “100” videos, junior high and senior high school students and their music directors were able to study the techniques of the Marching “100” more closely. 

It was becoming normal to hear band camp students talking about watching the Marching “100” on video. This gave us an incredible advantage. These young people wanted to come to our band camps to show us what they could do. Also, they wanted to learn how to do everything the members of the Marching “100” could do. Many of our band camp participants became members of the FAMU Marching Band. Indeed, God was blessing us…

In 1998, the invitation I received from the Los Angeles Chapter of the FAMU National Alumni Association gave me the opportunity to address a few concerns that I had. I did not know that it would be a new beginning for me. Nevertheless, I did use that opportunity to open the door for others to help me. In addition, however, a door opened for me to walk through for the rest of my professional life. Sometimes, when you don’t know how you are going to move forward, without warning, something happens that gives you focus. When that happens, you have a chance to move forward with direction.”

Excerpt of Chapter: “Slowing Down But Still Pushing Forward” from “The Man Behind The Baton” By Dr. William P. Foster


Dr. William P Foster is founder and creator of the world renowned Florida A&M University Marching 100. He has been credited for the creation of the very first band dance routine, many marching techniques, drill patterns, and band pageants (Themed shows). All of these, and many more of his creations, are still utilized by college bands across the country today.

Published by Ernest Stackhouse

-Music Educator -Marching Band Show Design -Musical Arranger -Adjudicator -Fine Arts Administrator -Band Director -Writer

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