June 25, 2017

2017 Season Schedule

Note: for the official football schedule and latest gameday information, please visit msuspartans.com.

2017 SMB Performance Schedule

Date Opponent
Saturday, September 2 Bowling Green
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Saturday, September 9 Western Michigan
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Sunday, September 10 SMB for Kids Benefit
6:00 PM, Downtown East Lansing
Saturday, September 16   Bye
Saturday, September 23 Notre Dame
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Saturday, September 30 Iowa (Alumni Band)
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Saturday, October 7 at Michigan (SMB Travel)
Michigan Stadium
Wednesday, October 11 Grand Ledge Invitational
Grand Ledge HS
Saturday, October 14 at Minnesota
TCF Bank Stadium
Friday, October 20 Homecoming Parade
6:00 PM, Downtown East Lansing
Saturday, October 21 Indiana (Homecoming)
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Saturday, October 28 at Northwestern
Ryan Field
Sunday, October 29 Spartan Spectacular
Wharton Center, East Lansing, MI
Saturday, November 4 Penn State
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Saturday, November 11 at Ohio State
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Saturday, November 18 Maryland
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Saturday, November 25 at Rutgers
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
Saturday, December 2 Big Ten Championship
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

For more information, please contact Charlene Wagner in the MSU band office.

David Thornton named 13th Director of the SMB

thornton 1
David Thornton, assistant director of bands was appointed director of the Spartan Marching Band effective June 14, 2017. Photo by Mark Hansen.

In announcing the appointment, James Forger, dean of the College of Music, praised David Thornton for the experience, energy and artistry he will bring to his new role.

“We look forward to welcoming David in this important leadership position,” Forger said. “We are confident that he will execute this new role with great skill and imagination, while building on our distinguished marching tradition here at MSU.”

The 300-member band was founded in 1870 and has grown into one of the premier college marching bands in the nation. Thornton has been part of the band’s leadership team for the past five years. He came to MSU as a graduate student in 2012 and joined the faculty of the College of Music in 2015 as assistant director of bands and assistant director of the SMB.

As part of his duties, he will also conduct the Symphony Band and Spartan Brass. Thornton succeeds Professor John Madden, who has announced his retirement from the university, effective Aug. 16.

Read the full article on the MSU College of Music website.

2017 Performance Schedule Announced


The 2017 SMB performance schedule is now available here.

2017 Auditions

Who can Audition?

The Spartan Marching Band is open to all university students by audition only. You must be accepted to Michigan State University in order to audition. You do not need to be a music major to qualify for the Spartan Marching Band (SMB). Approximately 10% of the SMB population studies music, while the other 90% come from all other colleges and majors in the University.

Audition Registration

To sign up for an audition, first fill out the following registration form (Google account required).

Then, to confirm audition participation (required) and get directions to campus, contact Charlene Wagner, Band Secretary at (517) 355-7654, or email her at reha@music.msu.edu.


More questions about the audition process? Be sure to visit the SMB audition FAQ page.

You may also e-mail the Director of the Spartan Marching Band, David Thornton at thorn155@msu.edu with any questions related to Spartan Marching Band auditions.


There is one scheduled audition day for instrumentalists interested in membership in the SMB:

  • Saturday, June 17, 2017
  • Start time: 9:00 am meeting, Music Building, room 120
  • 9:30 am audition times begin
  • Lunch on your own
  • 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Marching Audition – location TBA
  • 3:00 pm: audition day concludes

What to Expect

The instrumental audition should consist of one prepared solo piece or etude involving contrasting styles (3 to 5 minutes in length). A piece that you might perform at a “Solo and Ensemble Festival” would be appropriate. You do not need an accompanist. This piece does not need to be memorized.

Please also prepare the following major scales; C, F, B flat, E flat, A flat, G, D, A, E. Perform these scales by memory.

There will be brief sight-reading at the live audition.

Wear appropriate “work out” type clothing for the marching audition, including proper footwear (running shoes, sneakers, etc.). No sandals. Wear comfortable, not formal, clothing for your “playing” audition. You will have time to change clothes for the marching audition.

Video Auditions

Those who can’t be on campus for the June 17 audition day may submit a “video audition.” However, it is highly recommended to attend the audition day. Video must be uploaded to a YouTube or vimeo format. Email the video link to thorn155@msu.edu with the subject line; SMB Video Audition 2017.

The video audition must contain:

  • Solo piece from beginning to end (may be video of recent solo and ensemble performance with accompanist, or other solo performance).
  • If making a solo performance video, accompaniment is not required, but is welcomed.
  • All scales listed above from memory.
  • Display of marching technique on a football field – 10 yards of forward march “8 to 5” and 5 yards of backwards march “8 to 5.” IPhone video is fine here.
  • Introduction of yourself.
  • Email with video link(s) must contain name, address, phone, and on-campus housing assignment (if known).

Brass and Saxophone Music Majors:

If you plan to be a music-major, your MSU College of Music audition will satisfy for automatic membership in the Spartan Marching Band. These music majors will receive an invitation letter from the Marching Band Office in early May. If you would like to participate in the SMB as a music major, simply fill out the form in the early May mailing and return it to the MSU Band office. You will then be included in our July mailing for all new SMB members.

Percussion Music Majors:

Percussion music majors must audition for the Drumline separately (see below).

Flute, Clarinet, Oboe and Bassoon Music Majors

Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, and Bassoon music education majors typically perform on alto or tenor saxophone in the SMB. If you are interested in participating in the SMB, you must audition on your preferred “marching” instrument per the schedule above.


Auditions for the 2017 drumline will be held on Saturday, April 29 and Saturday, May 13, from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM at Demonstration Hall. Attendance at both dates is required. For more information, please visit the drumline website.

Questions about drumline auditions should be directed to Professor Jon Weber, MSU drumline instructor.

Color Guard

On Campus Auditions

The SMBCG will hold one (1) audition day for the 2017 SMB season. All prospective members will experience a morning group class in movement and flag that includes fundamentals along with choreography. After lunch, there will be a brief review and then the audition will proceed in small groups.

Date: Saturday, June 24, 2017
Location: Band Hall in Demonstration Hall.
Time: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

What to wear:
Please wear darker clothes that you move well in and are able to properly show your skills.
Ladies, a hair tie is expected to keep your hair out of your face.

What to bring:
Water, gloves and a great attitude! We will provide all equipment.

What we are looking for:
We are looking at grace, poise, attention to detail, athleticism, connection of body with equipment, quick adaptability to style + technique, strong performance, strength, consistency, attitude.
The desirable candidate will have all of the above attributes or the right mix along with a strong desire/passion to improve and grow into the skill set necessary to succeed at Color Guard at MSU.

Video Auditions

Those who are unable to attend auditions with a reason deemed acceptable by the SMBCG instructor or SMB Director are able to submit a video with that demonstrates the following requirements:

  • Movement: 60 second routine that demonstrates basic knowledge of movement fundamentals including moving across the floor
  • Flag:
        o Drop spins
        o Peggy spins
        o Thumb flips
        o Pull hits
        o Pop, Pole (crank), Prayer, Wind-­up, 45 tosses
        o 60 second routines

    To submit, please upload to Youtube and mark as ‘unlisted’. Send unlisted link to Mindi Murray mindo217@gmail.com

    Deadline: Friday 6/10/16 @ Midnight. This deadline is non-negotiable. We will not accept late submissions.


    Please feel free to reach out to any of the following people with questions:

    David Thornton, Director of SMB: thorn155@msu.edu
    Mindi Murray, SMB color guard instructor: mindo217@gmail.com
    Charlene Wagner, Band Administrative Assistant: reha@msu.edu

    Big Ten Flags

    The Big Ten auditions will be on Sunday, June 18 from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM at Demonstration Hall.

    Any questions should be directed to David Gerada (geradada@msu.edu).

  • Free Master Class with Canadian Brass – Friday, December 2, 4:30-5:30 p.m. @ Fairchild


    The MSU College of Music welcomes the world famous Canadian Brass to campus for a fun and intensive master class just ahead of their concert at the Wharton Center. This master class involves two College of Music honors brass quintets — the senior honors brass quintet and the graduate honors brass quintet. Each ensemble will perform a collection of pieces for Canadian Brass members to coach and critique aspects of brass playing.

    Canadian Brass will share their ideas and perspective on performance, air and sound production, listening and communicating with one another and the audience, and connecting with the music.

    The master class concludes with an audience Q&A and a closing performance by Canadian Brass of a suitably entertaining selection. Canadian Brass members include: Chuck Daellenbach, tuba; Bernhard Scully, horn; Achilles Liarmakopoulos, trombone; Chris Coletti, trumpet; Caleb Hudson, trumpet Free event, open to the public. Friday Dec. 2, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Fairchild Theatre, MSU Auditorium

    Parking: Lot 9 on the south side of Giltner Hall across the street from Fairchild Theatre at the MSU Auditorium will be open the public to park free of charge. If lot is full, metered parking is available along Auditorium Road.

    Canadian Brass is sponsored in part by Conn-Selmer, Inc., the makers of Bach and Conn U.S.A. made professional brass instruments.? – See more at: http://www.music.msu.edu/event-listing/master-class-with-canadian-brass.

    Spartan Marching Band Jacket Fund 2016

    SMB Band Jacket - 920x425

    The Spartan Marching Band jacket traces its origins back to our first trip to the Rose Bowl in 1954. Upon their return members suggested the band adopt a distinctive jacket with a collar and buttons to make it stand out on campus. That original design has remained consistent since, reflecting the same commitment to upholding tradition as the Spartan Marching Band.

    A jacket is earned only after a first-year member has completed their dress rehearsal, called “Freshman Dress.” This special rehearsal is the culmination of 10 days of grueling practice and rehearsal at pre-season drills. Among the many protocols is one that allows a band member to don the jacket for the first time only after marching through the tunnel into Spartan Stadium.

    There is no better indication of the pride in Spartan Marching Band membership than to see this wool jacket worn on a day when lighter attire might be more comfortable. Each year, approximately 300 Alumni of the SMB arrive on campus for their Annual Fall Reunion. These alumni are of greatly varying ages but the Spartan Marching Band jacket is worn by 70-year-olds standing next to recent graduates. THAT’S TRADITION!

    Your Support Will Make a Big Difference

    You can help support future Spartan Marching Band members with a one-time contribution of $150 which will pay for one jacket for a new member of the Spartan Marching Band!

    We also are very proud to announce that a former Spartan Marching Band member has stepped forward to match all donations up to the first $6,000. This means that your contribution of $150 will actually pay for TWO jackets!

    Donate here: http://givingto.msu.edu/crowdpower/2016-smb-jacket-fund.cfm

    Feature Twirler Auditions for 2017


    Audition videos with cover letter, twirling resume, and 3 letters of recommendation are due by December 30th, 2016.

    Submissions by Regular Mail

    Mail audition materials with video on tape or DVD to:

    John T Madden
    Michigan State University College of Music
    333 West Circle Drive
    Room 118
    East Lansing, MI 48824

    Submissions by email
    The audition packet can also be emailed to Sarah Bennett, Instructor of Feature Twirlers at bennett.sarah.2014@gmail.com.
    Audition videos can be uploaded to YouTube. Please send the link by email along with the audition packet.

    Call Back for Live Auditions:
    o Date: March 25th, 2017
    o Location: TBD
    o What to wear: Costume of choice, comfortable athletic clothes to change into

    What to have prepared:
    o 3-4 minute routine to the music of your choice
    o Down the field routine showcasing your ability to twirl/march/travel similar to part of the pregame routine at MSU, we will provide this music
    o Improvisation routine to music we will provide
    o A list of tricks that will be sent to you via email with your live call back invitation

    Running will also be a part of the process and an interview will conclude the audition

    Please feel free to contact Sarah Bennett, Instructor of Feature Twirlers (bennett.sarah.2014@gmail.com) with questions.

    SMB Memories Inspire Giving


    Gift from MSU alumnus Gregory Holzhei provides scholarships for students in the Spartan Marching Band

    Gregory Holzhei poses with the entire 2016 Spartan Marching Band trombone section prior to the Wisconsin home football game.

    Gregory Holzhei says the eclectic mix of music he plays in his car, office, or home has a calming effect on his life. But he admits he sometimes wants to get up and march when he hears a particular song.

    “Every time I hear Chicago’s ‘Saturday in the Park’ it takes me back to when I marched at Spartan Stadium the very first time,” says Holzhei, an alumnus of the MSU Spartan Marching Band. “I still remember the songs we played and how my mom and sister came to see me march onto the field.”

    That day, says Holzhei, is permanently etched into his memory and helps fuel his devotion to MSU and the SMB. He remembers, too, how being a band member provided a strong social foundation and secured his path toward medical school. For that, he says, he is thankful, and why he broadened his philanthropy to include a new endowed scholarship in the MSU College of Music.

    Leaders of the Spartan Marching Band pause for a moment with Gregory. Shown left to right; Glen Brough, Gregory Holzhei, David Thornton, and John Madden.

    In spring of 2016, the doctor of family practice medicine established the Dr. Gregory Holzhei Endowed Scholarship in the Spartan Marching Band. His hope is two-fold: Provide financial assistance for one or two SMB undergrads a year, and to reinforce the passion that drives the band.

    “I feel so fortunate to be able to do things for other people,” says Holzhei. “My career is about trying to help others.

    This endowment provides a way for me to support students and give back to the Spartan Marching Band for years to come.”

    Spartan Marching Band Director John Madden concurred that Holzhei’s gift will make an enormous difference to a student by easing some of the financial pressures of collegiate life.

    “Greg’s gift ensures that a talented young instrumentalist will now have the opportunity to participate in the Spartan Marching Band,” Madden says. “His generosity is a testament to his care and affection for MSU and his love of the band experience. I remain indebted to him, and to the many others who have given generously to help us continue the tradition of one of MSU’s great hallmarks: the Spartan Marching Band.”

    A March to Give

    Holzhei grew up the son of a teacher, MSU Spartan, and part-time farmer in St. Johns, Mich. He worked summers helping his family grow corn and beans and peas, and realized early on that farming wasn’t his future.

    While he didn’t inherit a love of the fields, he did acquire a love for music via the perpetual soundtrack his father piped into the home. As soon as he could, Holzhei took up a band instrument at school, and started playing trombone in 6th grade.

    In high school, Holzhei joined the St. Johns marching band. His passion was reinforced when the SMB came to visit and performed on his school’s home turf.

    “My band director at the time had been in the Spartan Marching Band, and he mentioned it to me,” says Holzhei. “Some classmates before me had become members, too, so I decided to audition.”

    Holzhei auditioned and was accepted to the band his senior year at St. Johns, cinching his decision to attend MSU in the fall of 1989. Four years later, he earned his bachelor’s in science and medical technology.

    He says being in the SMB lessened the daily stress of working and studying, and provided an outlet with a core group of friends. “I lived with five other trombonists my senior year at MSU,” he recalls. “We developed these lifelong friendships. We keep in touch and still tailgate to this day.”

    Gregory Holzhei poses with the entire 2016 Spartan Marching Band trombone section prior to the Wisconsin home football game.

    The march toward home

    After graduating MSU, and going on to complete his medical degree out-of-state, Holzhei returned to Michigan for his residency at Garden City Hospital. Ultimately, he returned to his hometown to work as a family physician.

    He had missed his family and friends and the familiar surrounds of St. Johns. He had also missed the Spartans. Securing season tickets, Holzhei reconnected with the Spartan community and his friends from the band. He became a supporter and sponsor of the SMB, and occasionally played in the alumni band.

    “Being part of that experience began to grow on me again,” says Holzhei. “I remembered what it was like to be a student, and thought it would be really cool to be able to set up a scholarship to help someone.”

    Holzhei took the next step and contacted the MSU College of Music about establishing an endowment. His gift complements his other MSU giving, as well as the various community and educational programs he supports in St. Johns. “We are grateful to Dr. Holzhei whose philanthropy will contribute to the quality of life for talented and worthy MSU undergraduates in perpetuity,” says Dean James Forger of the College of Music. “His gift will help support the cost of their education while they develop their musical skills and serve the university as a member of the great Spartan Marching Band. Go Green!”

    For the original version of this article, please visit: http://www.music.msu.edu/news/smb-memories-inspires-giving

    For information on how you can support the College of Music students and programs, or to learn how to establish a named endowment please contact Rebecca Surian, senior director of development for the College of Music, at surian@msu.edu or by calling 517-353-9872.

    2016 Section Sponsors

    SMB Band Fan Logo 2016

    There are eleven unique sections in the Spartan Marching Band. Each has deep pride in their section, yet they work together as a team to create the sights and sounds of the SMB.

    The highest level of giving for the SMB is being a section sponsor. Each of these donors has given $2,500 to sponsor their favorite section of the Spartan Marching Band. Their gifts have had a significant impact on the Band, and we are truly grateful for their generosity.

    Game Day Sponsors

    New for the 2016 season is our highest level of recognition in the Band Fan donor society called “Spartan Marching Band Game Day Sponsor”, which honors donors who have given $20,000 or more to the Spartan Marching Band in this fiscal year. Please join us in thanking Jim & Sherry Bradow for becoming Spartan Marching Band Game Day Sponsors for the October 19th game against Michigan!

    2016 Season Schedule

    SMB at Sparty - 920x425

    Note: for the official football schedule and latest gameday information, please visit msuspartans.com.

    2016 SMB Performance Schedule (Home and SMB travel games only)

    Date Opponent
    Friday, September 2 Furman
    Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
    Saturday, September 17 at Notre Dame (SMB Travel)
    Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
    Saturday, September 24 Wisconsin (alumni band)
    Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
    Sunday, September 25 SMB for Kids Benefit Concert for Sparrow Hospital
    Home of Tim and Cathy Staudt
    Wednesday, October 5 Grand Ledge Invitational
    Grand Ledge High School
    Saturday, October 8 BYU
    Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
    Friday, October 14 Homecoming Parade
    6:00 PM, Downtown East Lansing
    Saturday, October 15 Northwestern (Homecoming)
    Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
    Saturday, October 29 Michigan (visiting band)
    Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
    Sunday, October 30 Spartan Spectacular (3:00 PM)
    Wharton Center, East Lansing, MI
    Saturday, November 12 Rutgers
    Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
    Saturday, November 19 Ohio State
    Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
    Saturday, December 3 Big Ten Championship
    Indianapolis, IN

    For more information, please contact Charlene Wagner in the MSU band office.