Christian returns to C-SC to direct marching/pep band

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Tags: Ryan Christian, Culver-Stockton, marching band, Highland High School, Kahoka, Mo.

Ryan Christian has been involved in music for most of his life, but he never had the chance to be part of a marching band during his time as a student at Culver-Stockton College. He’s about to change that.

CANTON, Mo. — Ryan Christian has been involved in music for most of his life, but he never had the chance to be part of a marching band during his time as a student at Culver-Stockton College.

He’s about to change that. Christian recently was hired as the director of the marching/pep band that will debut in the fall of 2020. C-SC has not had a marching band in what is believed to be at least 50 years.

“It’s been a lifelong dream to come back to the college level and teach marching band. It’s like my true passion,” he said. “I’m excited to create a community within the school to bridge the students with the athletics and the music department and kind of just be a big community.”

Christian, who lives in Quincy, Ill., says his goal is to have 40 students recruited for the first year, then admits much more work must be done.

“Recruit, recruit, recruit this year, but we have a budget to get the uniforms, get instruments set … there’s a lot to do,” he said. “I have to establish the procedures as to what’s this going to look like. How are we going to share (students) in the music department? The tasks are just endless, but I love planning and being ahead of the game. But recruiting is No. 1.”

Christian, who earned a degree in music education from C-SC in 2003, has been the director of music for the Lewis County C-1 School District in Ewing since 2004. He conducted the concert, marching, jazz and pep bands at Highland High School, as well as the bands in grades 6-8. He also conducted the concert choirs at the high school and junior high school.

The Highland High School marching band has performed at halftime of the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., the Holiday Bowl in San Diego and the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio during Christian’s tenure.

He says building the program at Culver-Stockton will be similar to the task he faced when he was first hired at Highland.

“When I came to Highland, we were kind of at ground zero,” Christian said. “I know coming back to Culver-Stockton is a little different. I’ve made a lot of contacts in northeast Missouri over the last 15 years, and there’s a lot of alumni who are teaching music. I just want to make them aware of this community. I’m ecstatic to come back and start something from scratch.”

Christian graduated from Clark County High School in Kahoka, Mo., in 1999. When he was a student at C-SC, he directed the pep band.

“I always remember wishing there was a marching band (at C-SC),” he said. “It was something we always joked about. I think it’s kind of fun that it comes back around.”

Expect plenty of energy and fun if you’re a part of Christian’s marching band.

“We’re going to support the teams, support the college, support the community and get the (students) excited,” he said. “It will bring excitement to the music program. It will bring excitement to the football games and basketball games. It will give those (students) who sometimes fall through the cracks something to be involved with. I love the family aspect of a marching band.”

And he’s thrilled to be back at his alma mater.

“I’m thrilled. This is a dream role for me, a dream job,” Christian said. “Culver meant the world to me when I went there. I knew I wanted to go into music, but it was the teachers there, it was the small school aspect that pushed me to the next level. It was exciting for them to be hands-on and be there and kind of keep their thumb on you and make sure you were coming to class.

“I love the small school aspect, and coming back to that and being a part of trying to create something for the college is super exciting for me.”

Music has been part of the curriculum at Culver-Stockton since it was founded in 1853, but the first band was not organized until the fall of 1924 under the direction of Lorenzo G. Fachinato. The band led the first homecoming parade in 1925 and subsequent parades for the next several years.

Band uniforms, consisting of white coats, white trousers and a blue cape, were introduced in 1928. New military style uniforms were bought in 1937-38. The band performed at home football games and traveled to one away game each year. Baton twirlers also were added.

New royal blue and light blue uniforms were bought again in 1953 as part of the college’s centennial year. The 1963 yearbook mentions a band participating in the homecoming parade and at football games, but no mention is made of a marching band after that year.

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For more information, contact David Adam, Media Content Specialist, at dadam@culver.edu or 573-288-6312.