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).