History of the MachineAt first music was not offered as a course of study at the college, but from the very outset music was an essential part of the ongoing activities of the college. In 1909, Mr. Charles E. Steward was brought to the college as director of music. It was he who wrote the music to the College Alma Mater. Music soon became a requirement of all departments. It consisted mostly of "choral and unison singing" and band instruction. Mr. W. E. Lew came on as Director of Music in 1916. During this time the music program grew and flourished.
The North Carolina A and T State University band program was started in 1918 with about a 50 piece band. During then, the band was the backbone of the music department. By the 1930's, band was offered as an extracurricular activity. During this time, A&T was the only black college in North Carolina with a band! But when the 1960’s rolled around, the administration changed and the music department was combined with other divisions besides the band. Since then the size of the band has increased to numbers as large as 210 members.
After 1946, the marching band was patterned by the University of Michigan and Ohio State band program. Mr. Carson, the band director at that time, brought in the idea of dancing during a field show performance. During the early 1950’s, A&T’s marching bands major competition was the “Rattlers” of Florida A&M. As years went by, the band went through hard times because of the lack of funds but still performed with great execution. In the mid 1960’s the band introduced the majorettes and flag girls which promoted the band to another plateau. There were several major performances in the 1970’s including the Silver Dome in Pontiac, Michigan and the Macy’s Day Parade in New York City.
The late 1970’s and early 1980’s saw a change in leadership. Mr. Jimmy Williams and Dr. Johnny B. Hodge, Jr. became the directors and the name “Blue & Gold Marching Machine” was born. The symphonic band was also started during this time. Dr. Johnny B. Hodge, Jr. served as Director of Bands spanning 4 decades. Upon his retirement, current director Dr. Kenneth Ruff took the reigns in 2003 and fuses tradition with the Aggie legacy of excellence.