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The Band: Mike Bohn was right (and I wasn't the most right I've ever been)

Discussion in 'University of Colorado News and Olympic Sports' started by Buffnik, Sep 2, 2011.

  1. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    One of the things that Mike Bohn has stressed since the day he was hired is an emphasis on growing and promoting the CU band. He refused to have music pumped in during games. Instead, he wanted the band to play. At CU football and basketball games, the band has a more prominent role than it ever has. This also carries over to CU events such as the Pearl Street Stampede.

    When I went to the Las Vegas Invitational last fall, I thought that the way that arena pumped in music really raised the energy level in a way I hadn't been seeing at CU games. I came away with the opinion that we should be doing that. My opinion has since changed. Bohn had it right.

    There are things that make a college atmosphere different and special. The band is one of them. It's a big part of it, actually. It completely differentiates a college game from watching the pros. And CU is now forging ahead with making our band one of the biggest and baddest. GoldenBuff was giving me some stats that I'll probably get wrong, but I believe he said that we'll have around 225 band members this year for football. That's the biggest band we've had in well over a decade, iirc. Hopefully he'll add a bit to that and also fill everyone in with some cool facts about our band's history he had told me (things like game balls and other things that should make us proud of our band tradition at CU).

    Beyond the band, the other spirit squads make college what it is. It's part of why we love it. At CU, we have Ralphie -- the best live mascot in sports. Chip -- which recently got screwed out of a three-peat in the national championship competition. Our CU Express -- dance squad that finished 3rd at nationals in 2010 (top 10 finishes in 2011 too). Our Cheer Squad -- made a recent USO trip to Kuwait and has one of the most acrobatic guys I've ever seen to fire up the crowd (also has had top 10 placement at nationals in the past 5 years).

    Collectively, the "Spirit" squads are part of what makes college athletics special. And what we have going at CU gives Buffs fans one of the best gameday atmospheres in all of college athletics.

    Bohn was right. I hope he keeps building this thing.
     
  2. Burrito Palazzo

    Burrito Palazzo huff my smug Club Member

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    In before GoldenBuff's gushing! I do like it though.
     
  3. tante

    tante Club Member Club Member

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    I remember a game a few years ago and some guy about 50 was throwing stuff at the band. I told him he had about 5 seconds to knock it off or I was going to beat his ass at the game in front of his kids. I really respect the band and what they do, especially at the basketball games.
     
  4. Darth Snow

    Darth Snow Hawaiian Buffalo Club Member Junta Member

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    band is ALLSOme at bball games. Them + students are the difference between gameday at college and gameyawn at pros
     
  5. buff4bcs1985

    buff4bcs1985 Hail to the King

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    this x infinity
     
  6. GoldenBuff

    GoldenBuff Club Member Club Member

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    Let me assure you, I have plenty of gushing to do. It's going to take a while though. I'm going to write a post about my time in the marching band, the increasing role Mike Bohn has played, and some of the history and tradition that makes the GBMB the baddest band in the land. I'll also do one for the basketball band. I will post both as soon as they are completed. It will give us all something to do while we wait for kickoff tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2011
  7. BuffaloSoldier76

    BuffaloSoldier76 Unsound Meat

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    I thought the band looked significantly larger at the BBall open house. They looked to be about the same size as when BEBG and I used to be in band back in the mid-90s. Great stuff to hear!
     
  8. GoldenBuff

    GoldenBuff Club Member Club Member

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    Well, you asked for, nay, invited gushing so here we go. I’m no Uncle Walt, but I’ll do the best I can to tell you about the evolution of the Golden Buffalo Marching Band during the Mike Bohn era and share some other fun stuff.

    I came to CU as a freshman on Monday, August 22 of 2005 in the band’s 97[SUP]th[/SUP] year. In some ways I was very fortunate to become a member of the GBMB when I did. It seemed like it was going to be a pretty good year. I immediately gained 200 new friends, learned all the fight songs, and met my girlfriend all within a week (and we're still together to this day). We had a pretty good season, and even though we were there for the entire abortion that was Gary Barnett's last 3 games, it didn't seem toooo terrible. We got to go to a bowl game in Florida and we inflicted two shutouts (more on that later).

    2006 was the true beginning of the "Band Renaissance." Although they had begun the year before on a volunteer basis, Stampedes became a mandatory, full band activity. To that end, the entire band was supplied with a set of Nike warm-up pants with a matching jacket. Mike Bohn became a much more visible presence to the band. He would visit us at least a few times that season and tell us how important we were. He likes to say that the band is the "heartbeat of the program." We would need all the encouragement we could get to make it through that season. The 2-10 year was ROUGH. Unlike all of the students and a good portion of the fans that season, we stayed up to the bitter end for EVERY game. The only bright side of that year was that we recorded a CD for the first time since 1999. Unfortunately though, it seems like every canned version of “Fight CU” I ever hear is the old one. Whoever the director was that year, he valued really short and staccato playing so all the fight songs sound way too stuffy and military. The new version reflects the fun and exciting spirit of today’s band.

    I know you’ll hate me for this, but the ways in which Mike Bohn has supported the band over the years is really about all the little things. He comes to the band banquet every year with his wife and makes a speech. He sends athletic department money to the College of Music to provide scholarships for the band. Every band member gets a full set of Nike gear (now with shoes). And perhaps most importantly, he goes out of his way to let us know how much we matter. I got the sense that before 2006, much of the band felt undervalued and underappreciated. Mike Bohn has showed us that we truly matter and that we can make a difference. The icing on this cake was when Cabral and the ENTIRE team walked over and thanked the band last year. There were a few damp eyes in the band after that.
    I’m going to gloss over most of the rest of the historical stuff, but here are some stories you might enjoy:

    In December of 2005, we travelled to the Champs Sports bowl. Shortly before the game though, we were informed that we would have to be on our best behavior and that we probably wouldn’t be getting much TV time. We all wondered why and we later found out the reason. The pre-2006 marching band was a bit more, how shall I say, dirty. Our primary form of in the stands visual performance was hip thrusting. Sometimes we would do it fast and sometimes we would do it slow but we always thrusted like we meant it. Apparently, some of our “behavior” caught the attention of some of the ABC/Disney people and a decision was made to ban the GBMB from appearances on the ABC family of networks the next year. Although the band has mellowed out a lot since then (for further proof, see the vocals stricken from the cadence) much of that joyous and rowdy spirit still live on to this day.

    In 2005, I travelled on my first full band away trip. We packed into buses and headed south and east toward a showdown with Oklahoma State. We actually did a home stay our first night with families from the band at Perkins Tryon High School. We played at their football game that Friday and I honestly don’t think they knew what to do with us. We were probably about equal in size to the population of their whole town. The next day we travelled to the game. It was a raucous crown, as it was their homecoming and family weekend. In traditional GBMB fashion, we played as loud as we could and cheered as loud as we could for the whole game. We had to, as we probably made up no less than 90% of the CU presence in Boone Pickens Stadium that day. But the team played strong on the backs of our sound and shut out the cowboys by a score of 34-0. I don’t really remember exactly what happened but the team came over and sang the fight song with us and at some point, we were presented the game ball. So, you might ask, how many other bands have ever been presented game balls? The answer: Zero. Zilch. Nada. Not Ohio State, not Notre Dame, not Stanford, not anybody else. That game ball sits in a special case in our director’s office and gets brought out for special occasions but every time I hear the fight songs, I think about how amazing it felt to hold that ball on that October day.

    game ball.jpg
    (I’m the doofy kid staring up at the ball and Rumblin’ Buff is the one holding it who happens to be completely obscured)

    Another event I was proud to have been a part of happened in 2007, when the band was awarded a C-Club Letter. I’m not sure of numbers here, but I do know there aren’t many bands in the country who have gotten an honor like that. We also travelled to the Independence Bowl that year and that was when we (or at least I) truly discovered how badass we were. Here are a few things to know before we proceed. First, altitude makes a HUGE difference in how we do things. Our band is pretty loud at home but when we get to sea level, we absolutely scream. Also, I would wager A LOT of money that the band parties harder than any other group on campus. As many of you know, you can train at altitude for a lot of things. Drinking is no exception. Two of the freshmen in the tuba section that year polished off a 30 rack between them on our trip to Shreveport and didn’t even feel buzzed. As you can probably tell by now, we do everything BIG. We were still a little worried when the Alabama band showed up though. The “million dollar band” is about 400 strong and travels on 8 buses. Despite being half their size, we CRUSHED them at the battle of the bands that year. We finished out the night by playing the exact same song they did, except we played it higher, louder, faster, and with more dancing. The “million dollar band” skulked away with its tail between its legs, its net worth down closer to 100K. At the game the next day, the many LSU fans present (who were there to root AGAINST Alabama) showered us with compliments and praise and told us how much better we were than the ‘Bama band. We almost won that game with their help.

    I’m approaching two single spaced 11 point pages now so I figure I should probably close with one more story that I heard for the first time this year. It was 1995 (I think) and it was sort of a rough game. We were playing aTm and the crowd was not in it at all so the band did what we do and took it upon oursleves to try to motivate the team. So they would play as LOOOONNNGGG as they possibly could during the breaks and would occasionally play into aTm offensive snaps. At one point, coach R.C. Slocum got cranky about it and decided to complain to the officials. Shortly thereafter, a flag was thrown. The penalty was on the band! You can actually hear it on the TV broadcast. “Will the band PLEASE stop playing?” The stadium went dead quiet for a moment, but then the crowd went ape$hit. Shortly after that, aTm lines up for a field goal to tie or win the game. The now fired up and rambunctious crowd and the band screamed their lungs out and the kick soared wide left.

    In the end, that’s why we all do what we do. It’s not about the trips or the free stuff, or the food (even though that stuff sure makes things more fun). When you get right down to it, we do what we do because we love our alma mater. We support our university and its teams no matter what and we are proud to be buffaloes no matter what. I’ve seen a lot of gamedays and I’ve been a part of some very special moments in Buff history but if you asked me what my favorite memory was, I wouldn’t say holding the game ball and I wouldn’t even say beating Oklahoma in 2007. The best thing about being a Buff is getting to sing the alma mater in the band room after every game. It is in that moment that I know what it means to be a buff for life.
     
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  9. GoldenBuff

    GoldenBuff Club Member Club Member

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    On the other side of things, there’s the Buff Basketball Band. For those of you who don’t know, BBB is made up of marching band players that elect to be part of this ensemble. BBB starts practicing before most people are barely beginning to think about basketball. We start rehearsal in early November – something that often overlaps with marching band. For many, the reward of being in BBB is having the freedom to play as loud and proud as possible while not being limited to a handful of songs you have to memorize over the course of a few months. Our song selection hovers around 90 pieces all held in binders. Songs we rehearse year after year to make sure they sound as kick-ass in the stands as they do in practice.

    When I joined BBB in 2005, we were an afterthought. There were risers on the North end of the court where the VIP seating is now. There were only about 40 people who frequently acted as the Student Section. Attendance at both Women’s AND Men’s games was appalling. They literally distributed tickets outside the arena on game nights. Sure, we had fun and got to dick around, but what we are now is probably a hundred times better.

    For starters, we were moved from the North risers to our South section in 2007. We had grown so big that there was simply not enough room for us. The band needs room to stand, to play, and (most importantly) to hip thrust. Even now, just 6 years later, our band hovers around 90 people – that’s 40% of the marching band, double the 20% it used to be.

    BBB’s role in games has also grown along with its membership. We went from just playing cute time-out tunes to playing AS the entertainment. When Outback Steakhouse did its gift card giveaway, the band played ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ (the closest we could get to ‘Australian Steak in Friendly Atmosphere’). When the Kiss Cam gets going, the band plays “Gimme Some Lovin’.” When the players (and the crowds) need inspiration, the band plays Band Cheer #3 (aka “The Hey Song”). In the spring of 2010, we started going on to the court before game-play in an attempt to get the crowd fired up even more. Although we can never seem to get the timing exactly right, our arranged version of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” lets fans know the team is here and ready to go. The band has become such a large part of the games at Coors, it’s now difficult to imagine how things were way back in 2005. People come up to our director at Every. Single. Game. And tell him how incredible we sound. They thank us for the service that we provide. At Every. Single. Game.

    Although playing at Coors is one hell of an experience, nothing compares to Tournament Band. 29 of the best (and luckiest) are picked to travel to the Big XII (well, now Pac 12) tourney. We have to travel on a bus for 12+ hours and stop for meals at McDonald’s. We have to sit in a cramped little box and trade time-outs with the other team’s band. But all of this we endure because Tourney Band is the greatest. We get to have our own Battle of the Bands with some of the best groups from around the conference. We’re crazy, we’re loud, and, most importantly, we’re damn good players. Call it Altitude Advantage, but we literally blow away our competition. Two years ago we played a women’s game against Baylor. Our headset guy heard from the Bears’ headset guy that one band member actually asked their director, “do we really have to follow THAT” after we played a time out. That’s the kind of recognition we get from people who really do know this stuff. A few years before that we were sitting next to the OSU band before our game started. We started cheering right along side them and when their game was over, a random fan reached over the gate and handed us two hundred-dollar bills. He thanked us for our support and told us to “do something fun.” That’s right, someone made a $200 donation to the BBB for cheering for an opponent.

    Something else interesting to mention is that the band doesn’t stay with other bands when we go to Tournament - we get to stay at the team hotel. We like to say that we are too cool to be put up with the other kids bussed in from the Midwest, and that’s actually not too far from the truth. Years ago, when BBB did stay with the other bands, we apparently decided to host a hotel party. The details are fuzzy, but other bands showed up – lots of other bands. At the very least, this caught the attention of security. Oops. After that it was decided that we were too much of a bad influence on the other bands and would be moved to the team hotel where, presumably, it would be easier to keep watch on us. On the down side, we no longer get to… socialize… with members from other bands. On the plus side, at least while we were in Kansas City, our hotel was just a few blocks from Power and Light District - the open-container paradise for Big XII fans. As you can see, we were severely punished. We learned our lesson…

    Kansas City was fun (and we know LA will be even better), but probably the best trip BBB has ever taken was the NIT trip to NYC. Of course, we were crushed that we didn’t get an NCAA spot (let’s not talk about that…) but our NYC adventure turned out to be even better than we thought. The first incredible thing that happened was our excuse letters. Normally, when BBB members get picked for a trip, our director writes letters explaining the situation to professors. He tells them he would be happy to proctor tests and will make sure we do our work while we’re gone. This time, **** got real. Instead of the aforementioned letter, the entire traveling contingent got letters from Kris Livingston, Assistant Athletics Director/Academics. This was the same letter that the athletes get telling (not asking) their professors that they are representing the University. That’s the first time in recent band memory that they were given this type of treatment and elevated to the same level as student-athlete.

    We got to fly on a charter with the team, donors, and regents. We boarded the buses in Boulder and literally rolled onto the Tarmac at DIA. Our TSA screening? Frontier employees who wanded us and peeked in our bags. Please, don’t be too jealous. While we didn’t get to stay at the team hotel, we were given pretty nice accommodations on the Upper East Side. We arrived Sunday night and since the team didn’t play until Tuesday, we were given the better part of two free days in the City. My girlfriend went home to Connecticut to visit her family for a day and I got the opportunity to eat at a restaurant I had been thinking about ever since wI had gone there on (another) band trip when I was in high school (Il Cortile, for the record). We even managed to find a waffle truck (Wafels and Dinges) around the corner from our hotel. On Tuesday, our only obligation was in the late afternoon – playing a pep rally for donors and local alumni. Then, it was gametime.

    So the game didn’t go so well. Oops. The band played on, even as those last seconds slipped away and we lost to those damn Elephants… Whatever. Okay, it sucked balls to lose, but the band had some consolation – two more free days in New York. Our charter had already been scheduled to leave on Thursday and, apparently, they weren’t about to change it. We weren't about to ask questions though. All we knew was that we had 48 more hours to do whatever the we wanted on the AD's dime. My gf's mom came into the City on Wednesday and treated us to one of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted at JG Melon. That night, we took the subway downtown to get French fries at midnight (Pommes Frites). Thursday we got more Wafels and spent the whole afternoon at the Met. That was one of, if not THE, best trips BBB has ever taken. It was even better than if we had been selected to go to a play-in game.

    The BBB I joined in 2005 pales in comparison to the Buff Basketball Band of today. Thanks to the efforts of the Athletic Department, and Mike Bohn in particular, I’m still here six (almost seven) years later. Perhaps even more so than the marching band, Mike Bohn’s efforts have had a huge effect on both BBB and the overall experience. Without the support of the AD, the teams, the spirit groups, and fans alike, BBB would probably still be on those dumpy little risers on the North side and the student section would still be smaller than the band.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2011
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  10. RumblinBuff

    RumblinBuff That one blogging guy Club Member

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    That may, or may not, be me behind the football. :)
     
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  11. RumblinBuff

    RumblinBuff That one blogging guy Club Member

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    I'm speechless at your efforts Golden. That's a hell of a recap. Kudos.

    I'd only like to add that the band before Mike Bohn came along was just as rambunctious, loud, and talented; just a lot more neglected. The difference between Dick Tharp and Mike in appreciation of all the hard the work the band puts in every year is so massive it's almost impossible to measure. Marching and basketball bands are an integral part of what sets college sports apart from professional, and I'm glad Mike not only recognizes that fact, but continues to take steps to maximize the band's impact.

    Above all else, I am proud of every second spent in that uniform, and wouldn't trade that experience for anything.
     
  12. BuffAlum2007

    BuffAlum2007 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks so much to you and your gf, GB - those stories were terrific - rep sent!
     
  13. The Guest

    The Guest Guest

    I rate this thread "bad-ass"!!!
     
  14. sliderNcider

    sliderNcider MacLovin Club Member

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    My older brother was All-State trumpet and a member of the CSU band and says that CU has a reputation of having a terrible band. Is that accurate?
     
  15. Shldr2Shldr

    Shldr2Shldr Club Member Club Member

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    Completely and totally false depending on how you look at the purpose of a marching band. If your band is designed and expected to sound and perform like a high school competition band then cu is worse. If your band is designed to be an integral part of the campus gameday atmosphere and to help promote and sustain the spirit of the crowd then CU is a 100 times better.

    I joined the GBMB in 2008 which happened to be the Band's Centennial. Not many other marching bands can boast that kind of longevity. We played at a whole bunch of venues that year to promote the band and show the CU pride we are known for. That year the band away trip was to KU and I must say being at lower altitude was evident. We were so loud and energetic that the sound was literally echoing off a full stadium. Also the Jayhawk band could hardly be heard. At the Cal game I heard stories that our 40 member pep band was louder than the entire Cal band, no small feat because they send out small satellite bands to separate areas of the stadium. Again that year at KU our small pep band was louder than their entire band, no echoing though. This game though had a story similar to the A&M game years back. The band last season started a new tradition for big third downs. We Call it thrabbit but thats not really important. It is a loud nasty distracting chord that has been effective in limiting the other teams offense production on third downs. Anyway we were starting to get frustrated as the game started sliding away so we kept playing right up until the qb said "down" to his lineman. This pissed off the Director of Facilities who demanded we stop playing. We of course did not. The ensuing CU possession the music guy at Kansas tried to do the same thing to CU via the loud speakers, this however got them a warning from the officials. It was a highlight from that trip. At Nebraska we were at a slight disadvantage because we were a small pep band and they tucked us away in the visitor's corner, so we wouldn't be heard on purpose.

    This year as Nik pointed out we have the largest band we have had in quite some time. The last band that was bigger was roughly 250 strong and it was back when the football team and marching band wore the sky blue. The alumni of that band are some the proudest in the history of the GBMB. This year we have arranged 4, 50 member pep band trips to Stanford, Washington, ASU, and UCLA. We no longer receive the donor funding to take full band trips unless the team makes it to a CCG or a Bowl Game. Along with the awesome new nike gear we have received recently the band has been outfitted with a new uniform as we look forward to a new conference. (I think fans are going to love the new look) Like was mentioned alot of this is due to the adoration of Mike Bohn. It is the reason that all band members will defend him in debate.

    The other person who has shown a deep respect and admiration for the band has actually been our new basketball coach Tad Boyle. He has repeatedly told us he wants as many people in the BBB as possible. To the point he challenged one of the members in the band to get 100% of the GBMB into coors. (That would be a little overboard i think) It just shows me that he understands the importance of a solid band for the college atmosphere. If we werent there it would be boring in my opinion. when the teams start losing the crowd would have no energy what so ever. That is the roll we play.

    I am excited for this season and look forward to seeing what we can do to represent CU in the Pac-12

    Fight CU!!
    Shoulder to Shoulder!!!
    Go Buffs!!!
     
  16. RumblinBuff

    RumblinBuff That one blogging guy Club Member

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    That would be the most awesomest thing ever You wouldn't be able to hear anything else. This must happen.
     
  17. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    As a complete non-expert reading the posts from the band folks, I think 80 would be the ideal size. The pep band gets loud and that would be a 2x pep band. The keg would be absolutely rocking.
     
  18. Shldr2Shldr

    Shldr2Shldr Club Member Club Member

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    Our director's goal has always been 100 members. But I dont see us getting bigger than that anytime soon. Not enough room.
     
  19. sackman

    sackman Club Member Club Member

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    How many members in the GBMB now? I know that was also a big priority of Mike Bohn - to increase the size of the band.
     
  20. buff190

    buff190 Club Member Club Member

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    Love.The.Band.

    Hate music pumped in!

    To me the band and the students are what's so incredibly special about college football and both are essential to the amazing atmosphere created on saturdays all over the country. The band is SO important to my game day experience! I start to panic if I am going to miss the band play in the field house before the game. lol

    Go Buffs
     
  21. GoldenBuff

    GoldenBuff Club Member Club Member

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    The band is about 225 strong right now. It got as big as 250 at its height back in the sky blue days though.
     
  22. Goose

    Goose Hoops Moderator Club Member Junta Member

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    I can't speak for the marching program, but CU has a VERY solid music program. When I graduated from HS in 2000, I was given opportunities to go to both CU and Northern Colorado and ended up going to UNC mainly because they were ranked as the third best jazz program in the nation at the time. Unfortunately, Dr. Aiken who ran UNC retired as soon as I got there (my reputation precedes me obviously) and the man that many expected to take over at UNC -- John Davis -- left to go to Boulder and has really turned things around. CU was always considered very good for classical background, but with Davis there the jazz program has really taken off as well. Combine that with an absolutely incredible ethnomusicology department, and CU is easily the premier program in the state and is consistently ranked in the top 30 in the US.
     

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