HBCU bands

The 5th Quarter: North Carolina A&T’s Blue and Gold Marching Machine

Behind the scenes with the band as it prepares for the first home game

The 5th Quarter in the world of football games at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) takes place after the game, when the bands of the two opposing schools battle each other for bragging rights to the best musical performance. These displays of musical showmanship, from the choreographed routines to the song selection, require a lot of practice and work by every member of the team. Over the next six weeks, The Undefeated will take you behind the scenes to show what goes into pulling off those amazing performances.

The the Blue & Gold Marching Machine practices in anticipation of their first home game of the season at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, Thursday afternoon, September 7, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Dr. Lamon Lawhorn, assistant director of bands, conducts the Blue & Gold Marching Machine as they practice at Aggie Stadium before their first home game of the season at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, Friday afternoon, September 8, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Brass players of the Blue & Gold Marching Machine run laps after making a mistake during practice at Aggie Stadium before their first home game of the season at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, Friday afternoon, September 8, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Drum majors Garrick Morrison, right, and Darian Eley, left, both juniors, leave the field as The the Blue & Gold Marching Machine practices in anticipation of their first home game of the season at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, Thursday afternoon, September 7, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Jamal Jones, senior tenor drum player, relaxes as the Blue & Gold Marching Machine practices in anticipation of their first home game of the season at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, Thursday afternoon, September 7, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Ifaiya Moore-Saabir, freshman tenor drum player, reads over her sheet music as the Blue &Gold Marching Machine practices in anticipation of their first home game of the season at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, Thursday afternoon, September 7, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Members of the Blue & Gold Marching Machine get pumped as they practice at Aggie Stadium before their first home game of the season at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, Friday afternoon, September 8, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

A tenor drummer of the Blue & Gold Marching Machine is seen through another drum as he practices at Aggie Stadium before their first home game of the season at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, Friday afternoon, September 8, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Kenji Freitas, senior snare drum player, gets his hat situated inside the band center before the Aggies home opener against Mars Hill at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, Saturday afternoon, September 9, 2017. Freitas says he will miss the connection with people once he graduates. “A common saying is a band is a family,” said Freitas. “And this really has been a family.”

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Dr. Kenneth Ruff, director of bands, leads members of the Blue & Gold Marching Machine out of the band center and towards the field before the Aggies home opener against Mars Hill at North Carolina A&aT in Greensboro, Saturday afternoon, September 9, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

The Blue & Gold Marching Machine performs the national anthem before the Aggies home opener against Mars Hill at North Carolina A&aT’s Aggie Stadium in Greensboro, Saturday afternoon, September 9, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

The Golden Delights of the Blue & Gold Marching Machine perform as they head into the stands during the Aggies home opener against Mars Hill at North Carolina A&T’s Aggie Stadium in Greensboro, Saturday afternoon, September 9, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

The Blue & Gold Marching Machine performs in the stands during the first half of the Aggies home opener against Mars Hill at North Carolina A&T’s Aggie Stadium in Greensboro, Saturday afternoon, September 9, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Vincent Ray, senior snare drum player, gets his fellow drumline members of the Blue & Gold Marching Machine pumped up before their halftime performance during the Aggies home opener against Mars Hill at North Carolina A&T’s Aggie Stadium in Greensboro, Saturday afternoon, September 9, 2017. Ray explained that the drumline holds itself to a certain standard. “Whenever we strap up, it’s this mentality that we are the best,” said Ray. “We feed off that confidence.”

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Drum major Garrick Morrison, junior, takes a knee on the side of the field as he waits to perform at half time with the Blue & Gold Marching Machine during the Aggies home opener against Mars Hill at North Carolina A&T’s Aggie Stadium in Greensboro, Saturday afternoon, September 9, 2017. Morrison said he loves the sense of loyalty, hard work, innovation and creativity he gets out of the band.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

The Blue & Gold Marching Machine performs at halftime during the Aggies home opener against Mars Hill at North Carolina A&T’s Aggie Stadium in Greensboro, Saturday afternoon, September 9, 2017.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Najee Jackson, fourth year bass drum player, performs with the Blue & Gold Marching Machine as fireworks fill the air after the Aggies home opening win over Mars Hill at North Carolina A&T’s Aggie Stadium in Greensboro, Saturday evening, September 9, 2017. “Everything I play, I feel it,” said Jackson. “It’s my passion for real.” Although it is his last home opening game, Jackson says it is still an adrenaline rush seeing the crowd.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated