Band Leaders Q&A: Trumpet section

Fourth in a short series on leaders of the bands

Gilbert Taylor and Nigel Payne

Gilbert Taylor and Nigel Payne are co-leaders of the LSU Tiger Marching Band’s trumpet section. Taylor, 21, of Sorrento, is a senior criminal justice major. Payne, 20, of Vinton, is a junior majoring in physics. Both play the first trumpet part.

Q: How many people are in your section?

A: Sixty-nine. This includes the first, second and third trumpet parts.

Q: What is the trumpets’ contribution to the band?

A: Taylor: We definitely bring a lot of diversity to the band. We are the biggest section, and we have members from all over the country. We have one member who came here from Wisconsin to be in the band.

Payne: Musically, the trumpets are the lead part in most pieces. We are the melody.

Q: Do the trumpets have any traditions as a section?

A: Taylor: We have a wooden fish that’s been passed down since 1989. Every year, we designate a “keeper of the fish,” who brings it to practice and some of the away games. It’s been photographed with celebrities.

Payne: The fish is about 3½ feet long. The keeper has to protect it, and what I mean by that is he has to keep the other sections from taking it.

Taylor also tells a story about how Texas A&M’s coaches tried to break the Tiger Band’s ranks during the 2012 LSU-Texas A&M game, but the trumpets wouldn’t let them through.

“That’s a big thing with the band,” Taylor said. “We never let anyone break our ranks. A lot of times, drunk fans try to break through. Last year, we were marching in parade formation when the Texas A&M coaches tried to get through. We stopped them, and they started yelling at us, so we started yelling back.”

In the end, the coaches had to wait for the band to pass before joining their team.

Robin Miller

Christopher Birdsong

The Southern University Human Jukebox trumpet section is led by co-leaders Christopher Birdsong, Antonius Pegues II and Kaleb Jennings. Birdsong, of New Orleans, is the spokesman for the group. He is 20 and a senior majoring in civil engineering. He plays first trumpet.

Q: How many people are in your section?

A: We have 38 trumpets, and that includes first, second and third parts.

Q: What is the trumpets’ contribution to the band?

A: We give the band its voice. We mostly play the melody, and when people hear us, they understand the voice. They understand what we’re playing.

Q: Do the trumpets have any traditions as a section?

A: We do a flash at the end of slow songs. It’s kind of hard to explain. It’s a maneuver that has a ripple effect.

Birdsong also tells about one of his best band memories.

“It was at the Alcorn State game,” he said. “Our director, Mr. (Lawrence) Jackson was directing in the stands, then he moved through the crowd, then on the field, and he was still directing. He’d never done that before, and the crowd went crazy. They loved it. And I’d have to say that out of all my years in band, that is the most memorable moment. I’ll never forget it.

Robin Miller