A simple question: "How many Marching Royal Dukes alumni are there?"
So get a copy of the class registrations since 1972 and count heads, right? A couple of problems: I doubt the office of the registrar is going to give me access to class records. As well, the MRDs are older than computerized registration. Any bets on if the records actually exist?
But we do have some data to work with: We generally know how big the band has been year-to-year. It's not uncommon for Breeze news articles, programs in Parade of Champions, JMU Sports press releases, etc to have a paragraph about the MRDs and they usually mention the size to add color. Here's an example quote from the 1977 Bluestone:
The half-time shows at football games, the Veterans Day Parade, the Homecoming Parade, and the Christmas Parade are just a few of the events at which the Marching Band performed. Directed by Mr. Kenneth Moulton, the band performed a wide variety of music ranging from "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" to "The Hustle". Numbering 115 members, they are certainly one of Madison's most entertaining groups.
Lining up a few accurate sources, and estimating the rest, we get a rough view of the growing (and shrinking) of the Marching Royal Dukes over time:
So adding up all those sizes, it gives us a grand total of more than 14,000. But that's not quite our answer. Many of us marched for more than one year.
So we need to figure out how many of each year are "returning marchers" versus "new marchers." Then we can figure out how many individual MRDs there have been.
We do have a few years where I have full rosters of the band. That is: from either names listed in the Bluestone or being in the liner notes on a recording. In some cases, I have adjoining years, and I can see how much of the band is returning marchers. Some examples:
This, plus some other evidence, (such as expected sizes of freshmand band camps) leaves us to an estimate that, on average, the MRDs are composed of 40% returning marchers, and 60% new marchers. (Which is an above-average ratio for a college marching band.)
So computing that against the band's size, and remembering that in the first year 100% of the band was "new." You get your answer:
Covering 1972 to 2016, there are about ~8,500 MRD alumni.