Once a Marching Royal Duke, Always …

JMU’s Marching Royal Dukes take the field for their pregame performance before the last regular season home football game of the year.

Story and photos by Mike Tripp, contributor

With JMU’s Marching Royal Dukes’ halftime performance already underway during Saturday’s football game, band alumni stormed Zane Showker Field, merging ranks with current members and taking up the tune.

The last regular season home game always marks the return of MRD alumni, proving that once you join the band, you never leave. It doesn’t matter how long ago you graduated or how old you are; once a Marching Royal Duke, always a Marching Royal Duke.

Together, alumni and current members kick it up a notch, performing “Get it On” – the band’s song of celebration.

Alumni clarinet players dance to “Get It On” during the halftime show on band alumni weekend.

“I’m glad that we have so many alumni here who sincerely appreciate everything we do,” director Scott Rikkers said later, after the football team finished off its rout of Richmond. “And to keep it in perspective, what we did today is because of what they did before us.”

“I hope, seniors, that when you come back next year, you are proud of what you see,” he continued. “And in the future, whether it’s two years, five years, 10 or 20, that you continue to see an evolution and to know the evolution continues to happen because of what you did today.”

Things took a turn for the poignant when current and former MRDs returned for the postgame show.

Before another round of “Get it On,” Rikkers recognized graduating seniors with a farewell hug.

Scott Rikkers, director of JMU’s Marching Royal Dukes, hugs each of his graduating seniors during the season’s last postgame show.

“You do not play,” he told them, just before the final song. “You just … be … and enjoy this last “Salvation is Created.”

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It’s a song close to past and present band members’ hearts, the last before dismissal, more akin to prayer than performance, led by drum major Cody Logan as the tears flowed.

Drum major Cody Logan leads the MRDs in an emotional final performance of “Salvation Is Created.”
MRD trombone players raise their instruments as the band is dismissed at the end of their final postgame of the season.

“This IS the last postgame. This is their last postgame of their MRD career,” Rikkers said of his seniors.

There are no postgame shows in the postseason.

After dismissals, the tuba players swooped in to lighten the mood after the band was dismissed, raising their voices as one.

Meanwhile, in the tuba section…

“This is my tuba! There are many like it, but this one is mine!”

“My tuba is my best friend! It is my life! I must master my tuba as I must master my life!”

“Without me, my tuba is useless! Without my tuba, I am useless!”


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1 Comment

  1. Elaine Blakey

    Such an awesome portrayal of the JMU Marching Dukes. Their true feelings exposed showing their inner feelings of love for JMU and each other and Mr Rikkers’ sincerity in the midst of it all ! Great article!!

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