Mark Hansen – The Man Behind the Lens

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By Veronica Klingel and Harrison Orwig, SMB Student Media Team

While the members of the SMB put in hours upon hours of hard work to ensure our band continues its tradition of excellence, the scope of our organization goes far beyond the students that perform each Saturday. SMB personnel work tirelessly behind the scenes to support the band. One of these individuals is Mark Hansen, the SMB photographer. His photos offer fans a new perspective of the gameday traditions that have grown so familiar to our audience.

Hansen has had a connection to Michigan State University from the very beginning of his life. Born in Alpena, he grew up on a dairy and beef farm run by his MSU graduate father. As a young man, he got involved with music as a member of the Alpena High School Wildcat Marching and Symphony Bands. After graduating in 1971, Hansen embarked on a career in banking, before later returning to his education at Washtenaw Community College with a primary focus in photography.

In 2001, Hansen’s daughter, Liesl, joined the Spartan Marching Band as a member of the mellophone section. As his family became more involved with the SMB through his daughter’s participation, Hansen found that the marchers’ efforts were going largely undocumented and began to try and capture it on his own. “I noticed a shortage of pictures covering the hard work this group puts into their entire season,” Hansen said, “So, my hope was to improve that.” After spending a few seasons photographing the SMB from the sidelines, Mark Hansen was officially brought on to the SMB staff. His first “on the field” shooting experience in Spartan Stadium was the September 18th, 2004, game against the Fighting Irish from Notre Dame.

An average gameday for Hansen starts at 8:30AM when he leaves his Ann Arbor home to make the drive to East Lansing. From the moment he arrives until every light has gone dark in Spartan Stadium, Hansen is by the SMB’s side. He photographs the band’s performances at Adams Field, their march to Spartan Stadium, pregame, halftime, and postgame. When all is said and done, Hansen takes between three and four thousand photographs each gameday. Once he arrives home, he selects the top forty photos from each game to create a “gameday reflection” for his photography website. This work often takes upwards of twelve hours, but Hansen doesn’t mind. “They are long days but special in so many ways.”

When asked about his favorite memory as the SMB’s photographer, Hansen immediately brought up MSU’s 2013 trip to the Rose Bowl. “I have so many great memories but the very top one would be the 100th Rose Bowl following our ‘great’ 2013 season. Getting the picture of the Spartan Marching Band crossing the 100th Rose Bowl insignia from the Rose Bowl Press Box was a proud moment along with being with the band and on the field after the big win!” In 2016, Hansen became an honorary member of the Spartan Marching Band and was gifted his own SMB Band Jacket. “[It was] another major highlight and a jacket I proudly wear.”

Over the course of his seventeen-year career as the SMB photographer, Mark has shot 107 games at Spartan Stadium and 19 games at other venues. In 2006, his late wife, Janet Rutt, joined him in taking pictures from the Spartan Stadium Photo Deck, and the two of them shot together until October of 2015. The pair had a tradition of enjoying a meal at Applebee’s before making the drive back home. “Years of taking pictures with my late wife has many special moments…I could go on and on.”

“Without question 16 years of being with the Spartan Marching Band has changed my life. The leadership, families, [and] students I have met form all sorts of treasured memories. After a few seasons I see more and more in the Spartan Alumni Band, as well as along the streets. I celebrate the times I have seen returning students, some with families now, cheering on ‘their Spartans’… Having what I call ‘the best seat in the house’ has given me many ‘chills’ as I have heard the talented SMB surround us all with great music.”

We are extremely privileged to have Mark Hansen as a member of our SMB family, and we hope to continue working with him for many years to come.

Hansen’s work is available at markhansenphotography.smugmug.com.

2020 SMB Member Reflections: Looking Back on Gameday Gigs

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by Harrison Orwig and Veronica Klingel, SMB Student Media Team

The Spartan Marching Band is an integral part of many Spartan fans’ gameday experience. Most fans are likely familiar with cherished gameday proceedings such as the SMB’s performance on Adams Field and the iconic March to the Stadium, but the band performs in many other events some may be unaware of. These events, known as “gigs,” are just another of the many SMB home game traditions.

One of the most notable gigs that takes place at each home game is “Team Walk.” Members of the MSU Football Team gather at the Spartan Statue to take a lap around the historic figure in preparation for their upcoming appearance. The SMB sends roughly forty of its members to this event to wish the team well and play Rah-Rah to turn up the Spartan spirit. The energizing performance takes place approximately two and a half hours before kickoff.

Another gig that takes place every Spartan gameday is the Drumline performance outside of the Student Bookstore on Grand River Avenue across from campus. The sounds of the drumline can be heard echoing all throughout campus, and this event tends to draw a big crowd. Those who are interested in attending should plan to be stationed near the bookstore two hours before the football game begins.

One of the SMB’s favorite gigs is the regularly occurring Friday night performance at the Spartan Hall of Fame Cafe. This restaurant has been hosting the SMB every Friday evening that precedes a home game for many years. A few members from each section of the ensemble make the trip north to perform from our repertoire of Rah Rah for the restaurant’s patrons. The SMB loves this opportunity to connect with the Spartan community and build excitement for the following gameday.

The aforementioned performances take place every home gameday, but some others are organized on a game to game basis. “Band-O-Grams” are one such example; individuals can arrange to have a group from the SMB come and play for their tailgate parties if they are members of the MSU Band Fan program at the $1,000 level.

To thank some of our most generous donors, the SMB will even create what is called a “spell-out” for them. The entire ensemble stands in a new drill that literally “spells out” a donor’s last name on the field of Spartan Stadium. This formation is then photographed and made into a special framed thank you for the donor.

Gigs act as another opportunity for the SMB to create excitement for MSU athletics programs and to thank our community for its generous support. Gamedays in East Lansing this fall might look a little different from the usual fanfare, but we look forward to future seasons when we will be able to share our music with all of you once again.

Meet the 2020 SMB: Samantha Barringer

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By Harrison Orwig and Veronica Klingel

For the first time in the Spartan Marching Band’s history, our organization is to be led by two female Drum Majors. We are thrilled to announce that Samantha Barringer will be the SMB’s sixth female Drum Major, joining veteran Lisa Lachowski in our upcoming season. Samantha is delighted to be a part of the band’s leadership team and is excited to serve the organization this fall. “It is an honor to carry on the SMB’s legacy, history, and tradition in this position.”

Samantha has dreamt of leading the SMB since she saw former Drum Major Evan Bahm take the field at a performance she attended when she was in middle school. “[I] made it a goal right then and there.” But for Samantha, being a Drum Major is about so much more than leading the band onto the field. She is dedicated to working just as hard behind the scenes to maintain the high standards the band has upheld since its beginnings. “I love the leadership responsibilities, as well as the opportunity to create deeper relationships with my peers.”

Samantha feels that being named the next Drum Major is especially impactful because of what her nomination means for the organization as a whole.

“It’s really exciting that we made this milestone,” she expressed, referencing the organization’s progress in naming two female Drum Majors. “When I got the position at the end of the audition, the first thing I said to Lisa was ‘We’re making history today.’” Samantha was also quick to point out that the Spartan Marching Band is not alone in reaching this landmark achievement. “Central Michigan University’s Chippewa Marching Band has two female Drum Majors for the first time ever as well. The world is evolving and we hope to empower women throughout the world.”

Samantha hopes to spend her three years as Drum Major working towards a more motivational environment and continuing the SMB tradition of diversity and inclusivity. “I would like to establish more of a safe space in the SMB…It’s really great that the SMB is approaching more of a social media presence because, with that, high school students can follow up on their ‘preferred’ section and feel motivated to audition for SMB. It helps them understand who we are and what we do based on our feed and posts. It will be a great way for us to connect with high school students and potentially get more members.”

After marching one season as a member of the Big Ten Flag Corps, Samantha already considers the SMB her MSU family. Now, as a leader of the SMB, she is passionate about sharing that sense of family. “The SMB means ‘home.’ [It is] a place where I have people who have my back, who are here for me, who help me be the best student/marcher I could possibly be. It’s a safe space for me, and for everyone. A place where all 300 of us can come together and make some beautiful music, creating friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Hailing from Wixom, MI, Samantha is a second-year member of MSU’s College of Music Flute Studio, pursuing a degree in music education. She aspires to earn a Doctorate of Musical Arts in conducting in hopes of beginning a career as a professional conductor. Outside of band, she enjoys running, traveling, cooking, and trying new things.

New history section added to SpartanBand.net

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Spartanband.net now features a collection of seven pages covering the last 150 years of the band’s history including directors and uniforms. A landing page for the history section is located under the “home” dropdown menu and a navigation bar at the top of each page makes it easy to explore this new content.

Brief biographies of all past directors and assistant directors of the Spartan Marching Band are among the new pages. A chronology of the band’s 150 years is divided among four pages, including the “Early Years,” the “Falcone Era,” the “Begian and Bloomquist Years,” and the “Modern Era.” The new section is finished off with a history of the SMB uniform. Historic photographs of the Spartan Band illustrate the new pages. Each important school song, “Victory for MSU,” “MSU Shadows,” and “Close Beside the Winding Cedar” are highlighted throughout, in addition to the SMB’s presidential performances, Rose Bowl trips, and more.

The pages were researched and written by alumnus Jacob McCormick. McCormick was a five-year member of the SMB baritone section, 2013-2017. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from MSU and is currently pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Wayne State University.

Get started reading the history of the Spartan Marching Band here: http://spartanband.net/history/.

SMB 2020 Virtual Audition Information

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all auditions for the fall 2020 season will be adjudicated online.
All applicants should review the audition requirements below before submitting an audition. Additional information with specific instructions for each section can be found here.

Further questions about the specific audition requirements should be directed to the following staff members:

Summer audition timeline

Any individual who is auditioning for more than one section should submit a form for each audition. Once your audition is submitted, you will receive a confirmation email that your audition materials have been received. (Please allow 2-3 days for processing time)

A note for the 2020 fall season

At this time, we are planning to move forward as usual for the start of our 2020 season. The fall 2020 season information mailing, including all audition results, will be sent no later than Friday, July 17th. This mailing will answer all of your questions regarding the upcoming year. Please note: All students who audition successfully for the Spartan Marching Band (SMB) will be expected to report to campus on Monday, August 24th. All new drumline members will be expected to report to campus on Saturday, August 22nd.

Any changes to our season, reporting dates, etc., will be communicated via email and D2L. Other important information that would have been communicated at auditions:

  • Students cannot be accepted into the SMB if you have not been fully admitted to Michigan
    State University (MSU).

  • All students must enroll for credit in MUS 114 – Spartan Marching Band. When scheduling
    your classes for the fall semester, you should communicate to your advisor that you are
    planning to participate in the SMB (even if you have not heard about results). Rehearsals are
    everyday from 4:30-6pm, with sectionals from 4:00-4:25pm on Wednesday/Friday, and an
    additional Monday night rehearsal from 7-9pm. Drumline has additional rehearsals Monday /
    Wednesday / Friday from 3:30 – 4:30 pm. Class conflicts are not permitted for first year
    members. You should plan the rest of your schedule around these times.

  • You will be contacted by our section leaders once results are posted. They will be a great
    resource for you. Please utilize them and communicate all your questions!

Good luck and Go Green!