Hall Of Fame Inducts DeGroff

by David Brensilver | Nov 7, 2012 3:32 pm

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Jason DeGroff, who directs the band programs and teaches in the music department at the University of New Haven, has been elected to the University of Massachusetts Minuteman Band Hall of Fame.

A University of New Haven news release announced that “DeGroff was nominated by UMass band alumni for the honor. ... DeGroff, only the eighth person to enter the Hall of Fame, has been the visual designer of the Minuteman Marching Band for many years. He began writing for the band while still a UMass student. He has created the drill design used by the band for more than a decade.”

Reached by telephone on Wednesday, DeGroff put the honor into context, explaining that the 120-year-old UMass marching-band program, which received the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s 1998 Sudler Trophy, is revered by colleagues and counterparts throughout the country.

“Everyone knows the program,” he said.

DeGroff, who completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at UMass—from which he earned a bachelor of music education degree in 1993 and a master of music education degree with a concentration on conducting in 1995—continues to serve as the 395-member marching-band program’s drill designer.

He also designs shows for competitive high-school marching bands from around the country.

University of New Haven PhotoAccording to the above-mentioned UNH news release, “DeGroff came to UNH nearly four years ago to help build the band, which began with the return of football. When he started, the band had about only 20 members. After one year, that number tripled, and it has since ballooned to more than 100.”

DeGroff is now in his third year at UNH, where he directs the concert, marching, and jazz bands and teaches various music classes. The growth of the Chargers Marching Band, DeGroff said, is the result of successful recruiting and exciting programming.

“Programming is very important,” he said. “You pick a great show that kids want to be part of.”

DeGroff’s competitive-marching-band involvement began at Berlin High School, when he was introduced by music teachers to the Connecticut Hurricanes Drum and Bugle Corps.

During the summers of 1989, 1990, and 1991, he was a trumpet player for the acclaimed Pennsylvania-based Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, with which he currently works.

Still, DeGroff was quick to say that his primary focus is on his full-time position at UNH, where he’s committed to the continued growth of the band program.

The draw of competitive marching bands and drum corps, he said, is the camaraderie.

“Having a common goal, working toward that goal, and achieving that goal ... is very rewarding,” he said.

At UNH, DeGroff appreciates the opportunity he has to watch younger musicians learn.

“It’s nice for me to see student growth,” he said.

Learn more about UNH’s Chargers Marching Band here.

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