Even though he retired at the end of the 2010 football season as the longtime director of Georgia Southern University’s Southern Pride Marching Band, the beat goes on for Dr. Matt Fallin, as the Department of Music’s principal percussion instructor.
In fact, the versatile percussionist can’t imagine music not being a part of his life. “It’s all I ever really wanted to do,” said the leader and inspirational force behind the marching band for the past 16 years.
The Claxton, Ga., native’s history with Southern Pride began in 1982, when he joined the marching band’s first football season as a percussionist. Since that time, he has been associated with the band for all but four years, when he left campus to earn master’s and doctorate degrees. Fallin joined the faculty in 1991, assuming the duties of percussion instructor, marching band director and director of the Hoop Troop basketball pep band. He is still an integral part of the University’s music community, continuing his role of conducting, writing and arranging for the University Percussion Ensemble and providing guidance for the Department’s percussion majors.
During his many years as band director, Fallin’s halftime shows were a sight to see, with more than 225 musicians marching in synchronicity across Paulson Stadium’s field, leading spectators to wonder how it all happened. Fallin says it’s a long process that includes the musical scores and a computer. “The first step is rehearsing the music. Once that is in place, it’s time to put the “marching” in the band,” he said.
Fallin’s work behind the scenes was also key to the band’s many years of success including writing all of the drum music and drills, selecting the music for the stands and halftime show, and even spending two hours in the freezing rain replacing the battery in the band’s equipment truck.
Recognizing Fallin’s contributions to the organization, the University presented him with a plaque during last fall’s halftime show at the Georgia Southern vs. Appalachian State match, his last home game as band director. Southern Pride alumni also showed their appreciation for his loyalty and dedication during a dinner held in his honor at the Georgia Music Educator Association’s (GMEA) annual conference in Savannah a few months ago.
For Fallin, Southern Pride has been a labor of love as it has been for the musicians, he said. “Within this group can be found some of the finest students Georgia Southern has to offer. It’s their hard work and dedication in support of Georgia Southern football that has earned them their reputation – the hardest working band in show business,” he said.