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JMU Alma Mater

Madison, James Madison will be forever true

Our loyalty will always be to JMU

While friends remain within our hearts

And knowledge guides our way

Madison, James Madison will lead us on

To conquer each new day

Rehearsal Schedule

At every home football game, join the band, team and coaches in singing the alma mater in the north endzone at the end of the game.

This familiar announcement begins each exciting performance as one of America's premier collegiate marching bands takes the field with its exciting music and fast-paced movement. From humble beginnings in 1972, the first year of JMU football, the Marching Royal Dukes has become one of the best known and largest college marching bands in the country.

About Our Program

Among their many awards and performances, the MRDs have performed at NFL games in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Washington. In 1983, they were the featured halftime show for the NFC title game between Washington and Dallas. They have been performers for Walt Disney Productions. In 1988 and 1991, they were the featured exhibition band at the Bands of America Grand National Championships.

In 1994, the John Philip Sousa Foundation named the Dukes recipients of the Sudler Trophy, known as the "Heisman Trophy of college marching bands." In 1997 and 2001, they were featured in the inaugural parades for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. In 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014 they performed at the inauguration ceremonies for Virginia Governors Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Bob McDonnell, and Terry McAuliffe.

The band has established a strong tradition as ambassadors of the university and community both in the region and abroad. They took their first European tour in 1997, when they performed for the closing ceremonies of the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi Family in Monaco. In December 2000, the Dukes performed at a New Year's celebration in Athens before an audience of more than 500,000; in December of 2003 they were the featured band for the New Year's celebration in Dublin, Ireland, and returned for their second tour in 2006. During the 2004 season, the Marching Royal Dukes traveled with the JMU football team to perform at the NCAA Division 1-AA National Championship game in Chattanooga, TN, where the Dukes took home their first national title in school history. In 2010, they performed in the 25th London Silver Anniversary New Year's Parade, and will be featured in the Rome New Year's Parade during their 2014-15 tour of Italy.

The MRD Drum Line was featured twice in country artist Keith Urban's "Love, Pain & the whole crazy World Tour" in 2007 and 2008. The MRDs have performed three times in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, first at the 75th Anniversary in 2001, again in the 82nd annual parade in 2008, and most recently they were the lead band - with 485 members - for the 87th annual parade in 2013. Estimated were over 53.3 million viewers on Thanksgiving morning.

The MRDs have become well known for their outstanding recordings. In addition to recording for Warner Brothers productions, the band's own recordings began in 1978. In 1988, they produced their first compact disc, and their 2-CD set compiled in 2001 includes favorite selections from 1988-2001. Recordings can be obtained at the JMU Bookstore, and samples of repertoire can be found on the MRD website.

The band is supported by the Yamaha Corporation, Vick Firth, and Zildjian Cymbals, and has been used in the international advertising campaigns for both firms.

Scott Rikkers is the Associate Director of Bands at JMU and Director of the Marching Royal Dukes. Amy Birdsong is the Assistant Director of Bands and Assistant Director of the Marching Royal Dukes.

JMU Fight Song

Madison, James Madison,

We are the Dukes of JMU

Madison, James Madison,

The fighting Dukes of JMU

Fight for Glory-- Honors Won

Brighten the Lights of Madison

Madison, James Madison,

Show your Colors

Proud and True

We are the Dukes of JMU

  • "The JMU fight song is one of the most unique school songs in America College Fight Songs," said former band director, Dr. Pat Rooney.  “It has an uplifting 'jazzy' sound that really matches the spirit of Madison and everything we are."

  • The fight song was written by Dr. George West a former JMU faculty member.  The original song, called "We are the Madisonians," was actually written as a show tune for the university's old singing and dancing group, the "Madisonians."

  • Dr. West added words to the song and revised it for the newly formed marching band in the late '70s.  Dr. Rooney became band director in 1982 and began using the song as the regular fight song, creating the version we use today.  Over the years, lots of input from students and staff has made the fight song what it is today.

  • "There are a lot of "inside jokes and stories" about the fight song including the motions, etc. that we use," said Dr. Rooney.

  • While it is unlikely the fight song will undergo any drastic changes in the near future, Dr. Rooney feels certain more personal touch, keeping the song fresh and meaningful to future generations of JMU students.

  • “The fight song represents school pride through enthusiasm and unity,”- Bobby Winschel, Class of ‘08

  • "I love the fight song and everything it stands for.  Here at JMU we strive to be the change, and after singing the fight song I have the drive to do so."- Ashley Smith, Class of ’09.

  • "I can't imagine JMU athletics without the fight song. It would be like D-Hall without grilled cheese Thursdays." ’Erik Pitzer, former president of the Student Duke Club, Class of ‘07

  • "The fight song shows a sense of pride and spirit.  When the student section starts to sing together, it makes me feel like I am part of something incredible. It reminds me of how great it is to be a Duke!"- Teresa Garbee, Class of ‘07


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