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Permanent director for UA Pride of Arizona Marching Band

Published: Aug. 16, 2016 at 8:28 PM MST|Updated: Aug. 16, 2016 at 10:25 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The University of Arizona football season kicks off soon, and that means the return of the Pride of Arizona, but this time with a permanent director.

The famous marching band's new director, Chad Shoopman, actually has now come home to Tucson and the University of Arizona.

Shoopman got his Bachelor's in Music Education and his Master's in Conducting Performance at the UA.

In the early 1990s he was a member of the marching band. For two of those years, he was the drum major.

Shoopman's parents and sister live in Tucson.

"It's a chance for me to come home. The experiences I had working all over the world for Disney and as a professional musician--one of the passions I've always had is for education--music education, arts education, the power of those things to transform people's lives," Shoopman said. "These young people come at a critical juncture where they are making plans for the future and deciding who they want to be, and in an organization like this we can influence that in the positive."

"Upping their game and responsibility and dedication and effort and understanding about belonging to something that's greater than themselves and understanding what it's like to be there for someone else and have someone else pick them up when they're down. Those kinds of things. Those real world scenarios," Shoopman said.

He said it's what he got out of band when he was at the UA.

All this week he's conducting marching band camp:  Seven straight days of 12-hour days (with breaks for lunch and dinner) as the Pride of Arizona prepares for Wildcat football season to support the team and rev up the fans.

The band, flag carriers, pom poms, twirlers, drum majors and staff were on a grassy field on the UA campus, practicing in 100+ degree heat.

"They can ram out. I mean they can rock out and have high energy," Shoopman said as the drum line got his attention.

Shoopman requires a disciplined, focused band, but he also said, "That's my job. Just take away the obstacles for them to be as great as they really are."

"The arts make life beautiful,"  Shoopman said.

He already has made an impact on the 250 young people on the field. They're pumped.

"I feel wonderful. Everything's going really well. I have a lot of respect for him, and I'm really excited for the season to come," said clarinetist Christian Baker.

"It is so exciting. It's been such a positive change. We're all very very excited. And we're working so hard. And the band is sounding amazing and looking wonderful," said piccoloist Jennifer Thornton.

For seniors who've had three different directors in four years, it's time to really enjoy their final year here.

"Professor Shoopman has been super open to hearing our traditions and things like that, but also meshing his new style into what we do to really improve our band," said Pride of Arizona co-drum major Abby Hill.

Shoopman said "pride" is performance, respect, integrity, dignity and excellence. He said everything comes back to those five things.

"I think of the band as the battery for the stadium. When the band gets in those stands and we plug us in--now the stadiums on, now we're able to rally perform and really fire up the fans," Shoopman said. "We want an athletic event to be an entertainment experience--from the minute you walk on campus to the minute you leave.  We're a part of your experience and you walk away going, 'Man, that was just a great time.'"

Shoopman closed the morning practice session with a pep talk.

"I'm incredibly proud of each and everyone of you. You should be really really proud of the work you've been doing."

The new Pride of Arizona Marching Band makes its debut September 3 in Glendale when the Wildcats take on Brigham Young.

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