Arris Golden to bring great energy and talent to MSU as newest Band faculty

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Arris Golden, a skilled conductor, music educator and band director currently leading the Marching Tar Heels of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will join the faculty of the Michigan State University College of Music as the assistant director of bands and associate director of the Spartan Marching Band. Her appointment will be effective July 1.

“Arris brings creativity as a conductor and over 20 years of experience as an award-winning music educator in North Carolina, where her artistry in the concert hall, the classroom, and on the marching band field has been clearly seen,” says Dean James Forger. “We are excited to engage an individual with her depth of talent and experience.”

Golden is known as an accomplished educator with extensive experience leading marching, concert and symphonic bands.

“Our students are going to love Arris Golden’s energy and enthusiasm for her job,” says David Thornton, associate director of bands and director of the MSU Spartan Marching Band. “Her teaching experience and knowledge of our program will allow her to have an immediate impact.”

Golden was drawn to MSU because of the level of artistry and commitment to excellence she saw within the band program.

“I was also drawn to the community within the College of Music,” Golden says. “There is an incredible sense of camaraderie and collaborative spirit that exists among the faculty, staff, and students.”

The depth and breadth of the MSU band program requires a leader of Golden’s caliber who has worked with multiple types of bands at multiple levels. She brings a proven ability to relate to students of a variety of ages and backgrounds. Her middle school concert band leadership, for example, led to international recognition and featured performances and premieres of commissioned works at respected music education conferences.

“We are very excited to have Arris Golden joining us at MSU,” says Kevin Sedatole, director of bands and chair of the conducting area. “Her unique experience in the area of commissioning for the wind band repertoire and her significant qualifications as conductor and educator will greatly enhance our wind band community. She also brings expertise on the secondary level of teaching that will offer invaluable learning experiences for our students.”

Golden said she is looking forward to teaching and working with students at all levels of the band program. She is excited, too, about interacting with area high school students through the Spartan Wind Symphony and with students who come from all parts of campus via the Spartan Marching Band. Her familiarity with MSU comes from her involvement in its band programs as a graduate student having recently completed the DMA in wind conducting.

“To me, this position is the best of all possible worlds,” she says. “I am greatly anticipating getting started in July.”

About Arris Golden

Arris Golden is the newly appointed assistant director of bands and associate director of the Spartan Marching Band at Michigan State University. She officially beings her new position in July 2018.

Golden is currently a member of the conducting faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and serves as the assistant director of University Bands. In this position, she is the music director of the 265-member Marching Tar Heels, director of the Women’s Basketball Pep Band, conductor of the Symphony Band, guest conductor with the Wind Ensemble. She also teaches courses in music education.

Prior to her appointment the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Golden was director of athletic bands at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina (2008-2009). While at Campbell, she oversaw the entire athletic band program, including the inaugural year of the “Sounds of the Sandhills” Football Pep Band and the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Pep Bands.

In addition, Golden served eight years as the director of bands at Gravelly Hill Middle School in Efland, North Carolina. During her tenure, Golden conducted an internationally recognized middle school concert band that participated in featured performances at the North Carolina Music Educators Association annual conference, in Winston Salem, North Carolina (2010) and at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, in Chicago, Illinois (2012). The bands at Gravelly Hill also worked with numerous clinicians, including the premier of four commissioned works for band: “Kitsune: The Fox Spirits,” by Brian Balmages (2009), “The Machine Awakes” for young band and electronics by Steven Bryant (2012), “Freight Train,” by Pierre LaPlante (2013), and “The Cave Your Fear” by Michael Markowski (2014).

Golden holds degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She recently completed the doctor of musical arts in wind conducting from Michigan State University as a 2014 recipient of a Michigan State University Distinguished Fellowship.

2018 Auditions

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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.

Register for your audition (required for all sections)

To register for an audition, please fill out this google doc. If you have any questions, contact the band office at smb@music.msu.edu or (517) 355-7654.


Any 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, Professor David Thornton at dtt@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 9, 2018
  • 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 regular audition day may submit a “video audition.” However, it is highly recommended to attend the audition day. Videos must be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo. Email the video link to dtt@msu.edu with the subject line; SMB Video Audition.

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.

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 or by video as described above.


Drumline auditions will be held on Saturday, April 28 and Saturday, May 12, from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. More information can be found on the drumline website.

Percussion Music Majors:

Percussion music majors must still audition for the drumline.

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

Color Guard

On Campus Auditions

SMB Color Guard auditions will be Saturday, June 23, 2018 from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM at Demonstration Hall. 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.

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

To submit audition videos, please upload to Youtube and mark as ‘unlisted’. Email the unlisted link to mindo217@gmail.com
Deadline: Friday, June 22 @ 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, SMB Director: dtt@msu.edu
Mindi Murray, SMBCG Instructor: mindo217@gmail.com

Big Ten Flags

Big Ten flag auditions will be Saturday, June 9, 2018 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM at Demonstration Hall.

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

Feature Twirlers

Feature Twirler auditions will be Saturday, April 7, 2018 at Demonstration Hall. Applicants who have been invited to campus for a live audition should report to Demonstration Hall at 1:00 PM.

Any questions should be directed to SMB Director David Thornton (dtt@msu.edu).