New Director of Bands sparks excitement in students and faculty

Dr. Raya conducts the marching band during their weekly practice. NSU’s band prepares their halftime set during the summer and presents it at football games in the fall.

School may have just started, but the NSU marching band has already made big strides in their showcase this season. With their new Director of Bands, Dr. Bryan Raya, students have already seen improvements in how the marching band is managed. Brennan Marcotte, Inola senior, said Dr. Raya is very motivated to see the band grow and flourish in the coming years.

“There are times when we are getting our butts kicked,” said Marcotte. “But at the end of the day he is making us better and that makes it more fun because it feels like we actually doing something with a purpose.” 

Music has influenced Raya his entire life, but his love for band started his freshman year of high school, where he started his lifelong pursuit of music. He said one of the reasons NSU appealed to him was the ability to work with a smaller band, similar to the one he was a member of in high school. Because of NSU’s smaller band program, Dr. Raya has the ability to make this program his own. He is excited to leave his mark on this program.

“When you are a director of bands, it can become my band program,” said Raya. “At other universities, there might be other band directors, but here I am the director. I can make decisions on what I want to do.”

This kind of influence can prove to be advantageous. Raya has big plans to raise standards and expectations in the bands and increase pride in the art form. This self-respect  will translate well to prospective students, said Benjamin Hay, Assistant Music Professor. Hay said Raya looks for quality in both his students and himself. 

“He holds himself and his band to a really high standard,” said Hay. “The quality of the ensemble is about to get better. He is a really compelling person to study under, so I think he will help our recruiting efforts.”

Raya hopes that this renaissance of NSU bands brings not only more people to the program, but to concerts and football games as well. Marcotte is excited to showcase the marching band’s new show this year.

“Just watch out,” said Marcotte. “People are going to be pretty blown away the first time they hear us. It’s going to be unlike anything that this band has produced in many years, for sure.” 

The marching band’s first performance will be during halftime of the first home football game of the season. NSU will play Central Missouri at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at Doc Wadley Stadium.

For more information about NSU’s band programs, email Raya at


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