Meet the Band

Meet the Band

Meet the Band: Featured Twirlers

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The 2017 Spartan Marching Band Feature Twirlers are Nicole Harris and Taylor Scheffer. Senior Nicole started twirling at the age of 5 and has been twirling for 16 years. Sophomore Taylor started twirling at the age of 9 and has been twirling for 10 years. Both women are members of the Twirl-M’s baton twirling group out of Walled Lake.

Rhonda Muscaro, along with various other coaches, have instilled their love of baton twirling from a young age. Nicole and Taylor have competed on the same team winning More than nine national titles. Each summer, the twirlers train every day in preparation to compete at the baton twirling national championships held at Notre Dame University. Once they return, they immediately head right into preseason training for the SMB.

smb twirlersThe twirlers started off preseason this year teaching Taylor the traditions of the previous feature twirlers. These traditions include the fight song, pregame, and series. These are traditions that the feature twirlers hold dear to their hearts because they have been passed down from generation to generation starting in 1972.

The most unique aspect of the feature twirler position is having the ability to choreograph their own routines for halftime and postgame shows. The twirlers have multiple sections that they create at the beginning of the season, and throughout the process of learning halftime, they mix and match the sections to create a combined routine. The routine changes every week and includes 1, 2 and 3 batons.

Although choreographing individual routines is exciting, the best part about being a Michigan State feature twirler is getting to twirl with one another. At the start of every season, the feature twirlers create a duet or multiple duet routines that they will perform throughout the season. Both Nicole and Taylor found this to be an extremely easy process because of their long history of twirling together. Both girls describe themselves as having the same twirling style and process of choreographing.

Even though the twirlers are a section of two, they find ways to integrate with the other sections of the band. Every game day the twirlers tailgate with the trombone section on Adams field. They also form a section with the drum majors and call themselves “Baton Squad.”

This is a bittersweet year for Nicole as it is her last year with the SMB, but for Taylor, her journey just began and she is excited to carry on the traditions.

Meet the Band: Trumpets

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The Spartan Marching Band trumpet section is the biggest section in the band, standing at 59 members for the 2017 year. The three trumpet section leaders, fifth-year senior Peter Richey, senior Bradley Arnold and junior Shannon Sheldrick, are joined by 11 other squad leaders: Lindsay Culp, Joey Swinkey, Richard Lewis, Alex Burns, Jacob Bonesteel, Adam Johanknecht, Emily Garman, Jake Bronson, Kyle Hanson, David York and Michael Perry.

The top eight players in the section are chosen to play the E-flat cornet, more commonly known as the “eeph.” The eephs have their own traditions, including their own Series and “Eeph Games,” which you can observe on game days when the band is in arcs on Adams Field.

Being such a large section, it can be difficult to bond, but the trumpets make sure to do so through a few group outings throughout the season. Every year to celebrate the end of preseason, they take a trip to Cracker Barrel and then go to IHOP after the Spartan Spectacular rehearsal in late October. Additionally, they go to Uncle John’s Cider Mill for cider and donuts during the fall.

The trumpets also have some very serious traditions, including playing “MSC” – Michigan State College’s original alma mater – on Adams Field before our march to the stadium. It is one of their most prevalent customs because it is a great way for the listeners as well as the players to remember some of the history behind the Spartan Marching Band, as well as to reflect on how far we have come.

The trumpet section includes many different personalities, but one thing is for sure: they will always be sure to greet you with a friendly “Hullo!” should you come across them.

Meet the Band: Mellophones

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On gamedays, seen from afar in sectionals on Adams field, the Mellophone Section can be distinguished from the pack as it huddles and chants three times, “Spartan Mellos/ Brass Playing War Machines/ Trained to Fight, Trained to Kill/ Trained to Die, But Never Will!” For the record, they wouldn’t hurt a fly. This mantra exemplifies the passion, intensity and drive with which each of the 26 Mellophones approach performing with The Spartan Marching Band.

Comprised of 8 new members and 18 veterans (specifically, 4 fourth years, 4 third years, 10 second years), the Mellophone section has one of its youngest sections to date! Led by section leader Hannah Trezise, the Mellophones also boast outstanding squad leaders in Justin Hoffman, Kelsey Ordway, Steven Hogan, Hanna Sajdak, Sarah Hughes and Joseph Essenburg.

Unfortunately, the origins of many Mellophone traditions have been lost to history. Nevertheless, the section is incredibly proud of everything that sets them apart from the rest of the band. For example, along with the Mello chant, one can also catch the Mellophone line– arranged from tallest to shortest member– playing pregame fight… but on the person to their left’s horn. At the last in-season rehearsal of the year, the Mellophones also partake in the cherished tradition known as “Primary Instruments Day.” Originally created as a means to remind the band’s fans of what a French Horn looks like, the event has become something of a chaotic gathering of instruments and non-instruments (IE: frying pans and wooden spoons) with which they perform the attendance block’s Falcone Fight.

Other, smaller traditions include White Mellophant Gifts, pillow pets, a widely recognized–and questionably obnoxious– Vegetable Game, contested ownership of a mounted deer between the Mellos and Trombones, and, of course, loving each other like family. For more information on any of these traditions, feel free to approach the Mellophone tailgate on game days and introduce yourself!

Meet the Band: Tenor Saxophones

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The Spartan Tenors are one of two woodwind sections of the SMB. Leading the section of 18 members for the 2017-2018 season is Senior Section Leader Alex Klingel, as well as Squad Leader Seniors Sarah Sheridan, Aryka Thomson, Hayden Stoub, and Junior Taylor Evon.

The SMB Tenors are well known for their “Scotland the Brave” rendition, popularly called ‘Ditty’. While kicking, playing, and sometimes marching, the Tenors have a blast performing their tune in East Lansing and across the country. This tradition began in the 90’s when some of the Tenors played “Scotland the Brave” to ironically poke fun at the Fighting Irish. In 1998 on Halloween, the Tenors dressed up as the Irish Guard, and the following season ‘Ditty’ became a pregame tradition.

Speaking of Halloween, the Tenors also have a tradition of ‘dressing to impress’ for the holiday. The past 4 years, either officially or unofficially, the Tenors have won the annual SMB section costume contest. Some of those costume ideas included dressing up as the Stanford Marching Band (complete with twirlers), the SMB Sparty Watch (it took a lot of spray paint to be a bronze Sparty), and even an elaborate BP oil spill this past year. Where ever they go they don’t take themselves too seriously.

Bleed Green!

Meet the Band: Alto Saxophones

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The Alto Saxophone section includes thirty-six members, twenty-four of whom are veterans in the SMB. These members are part of many colleges throughout the university, including the College of Music (9 members), Lyman Briggs College (7), the College of Engineering (4), Broad College of Business (4), James Madison College (3), the College of Natural Science (1), the College of Social Science (1), RCAH (3), and three undecided. In the Alto section, there is a combined 77 years of SMB experience with four fourth-year members, nine third-year members, eleven second-year members, and twelve first-year members. Although most of the section are alto saxophone players, eleven of the thirty-six members play the clarinet as their primary instrument, two originally played the flute, and one member plays bassoon.

The Alto Saxophones are led by section leaders Caleb Doerr and Eric “Smokey” Locker. In addition to them, there are six other squad leaders: James O’Neill, Zach Woloszyk, Andrew Acciaioli, Davis Donigan, Octavius Hernandez, Kyle Syrba, and Megan Wild.

The Alto Saxophone section is more commonly referred to as the Otlas (Alto backwards). The origin of this nickname was lost to history, but we know for sure that this nickname has been used since the 80s. This name is shouted by our section during the Series cadence in the SMB’s march to the stadium on gameday and as a part of our section cheer on Adams Field during warm-ups outside the Music Building.

Every year, the Alto section (Otlas) plays the Baritone section (Hoo-ahs) in a game of kickball on top of the Shaw Parking Ramp. This game is played for bragging rights and the coveted Hoolah Cup (Hooah + Otla), a styrofoam cup and bowl glued together and covered in tin-foil. This year, the Hoolah Cup will be played for the 8th time with the Altos looking to defend their title as champions. Additionally, every year around the holiday season the section gets together to exchange gifts and have a big potluck dinner at an event called Alto Thanksgiving.

The altos are also known for having the greatest tailgate in the universe, hosted by Rick and Carrie Germain.

Meet the Band: Color Guard

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By: Riley Smith, Theo Vanegeren, Kelsy Wenson, Leah Wright

The 2017 Spartan Marching Band Color Guard is made up of 32 talented performers, 10 of which are freshman. Leading the section is a team of five squad leaders—seniors Katherine Fernandez, Madeline Hilton, Riley Smith, junior Jenny Radon and section leader Emily Bankes, also a senior. The color guard welcomes Mindi Murray in her first year as Director, as well as a host of talented staff and assistant directors.

Every day the color guard starts rehearsal with an exercise called ‘The X’, which is a series of running exercises and cardio choreographed to a song. The color guard meets half an hour before the band every day to do this, and to work as a section to learn and perfect choreography for halftime performances. While this can be tiring, it always prepares the team for full band rehearsal, and sometimes other band members join in for an extra workout.

While other sections in the band are grouped by squads, the color guard is divided into four ‘families,’ consisting of one or two squad leaders and a mix of returning veterans and freshman. Over the summer, all members submit videos to family leaders of SMBCG flag and dance technique in order to be prepared for the upcoming year. Each member is also assigned a ‘buddy’ coming in to preseason — not only so each member is accounted for on rehearsal and game days — but so new members have a person who is looking out for them through all their new experiences at MSU.

Meet our new Feature Twirler for 2017 – Taylor Scheffer!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in South Lyon, Michigan and attended South Lyon East High school. The only instrument I have ever played was the Trumpet in 6th grade and it did not last long because I was HORRIBLE. I also took a piano lab class in high school and that just assured me that being a musician was not in my future and that I should stick to twirling. I’m currently undecided on my major but I do know I want to do something in the medical field. I’m looking into Nursing or being a Physician’s assistant. My mom is a nurse at U of M hospital so she inspired me to go into the medical field. When I was younger my mom used to work as a RN at a nursing home and I would spend a lot of time there talking with the residents and talking with the other nurses which assured me that the medical field was for me.

Do you already know Nicole?

I have been twirling for 11 years now and I have been on the same team as Nicole since I started. So I have been close with her for quite some time now. I think that is one thing I am most excited about is being able to share such a memorable experience with her. We have performed so many routines together and spent so much time at competitions together that will make it that much easy to learn from her and twirl with her.

How did you happen to pick MSU?

I have wanted to go to MSU since I was little but what really made me fall in love with MSU was when I came to my first football game and got the chance to experience what game day was all about. I knew not only that MSU would be the best place for me academically but I also knew I was going to do everything I could to make sure I was in my best shape for my audition for the feature twirler position.

What was the audition process for twirlers like?

There was a series of steps that went into auditioning for the feature twirler position. You first have to send in a tape of you preforming a routine of your choice and based on that tape you can be invited for an in person audition. The in person part of the audition consisted of running, interview, and a twirling portion.

What are you looking forward to the most when you join the SMB?

I’m looking forward to making new friendships with the people I will spend most of my time with this fall and having a second family at my home away from home. I’m already so close with Nicole and just listening to her talk so highly about the people she has met through the SMB makes so excited to get to know all of them.

Any interests outside of music/band?

Along with twirling, a couple of years ago I competed in the Miss America’s Outstanding teen pageant and was lucky enough to win a local pageant Miss Shoreline’s Outstanding teen. I competed in Miss Michigan’s outstanding teen in Muskegon, Michigan and placed 2nd runner up! Through baton and the pageant world I was able to do a lot of charity events and fundraisers to give back to my community. I loved volunteering my time and I plan on continuing to do so in East Lansing.

Meet our new Drum Major for 2017 – Nicole Sanford!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am from Traverse City and went to Traverse City West Senior High School. Rachel Linsmeier (the 2nd SMB female Drum Major) was my band director when I was a drum major in high school. My sister, Kali Sanford, is currently an Osteopathic Medical Student at MSU. I am going into my fourth year in Music Education in the French Horn studio and formerly played Mellophone in the SMB (like Evan). My interests in music span a wide variety of areas. Currently, I am focused in Early Childhood Music and Music Therapy, however I am open to anything having to do with teaching music. I work at the Community Music School and am hoping to go to graduate school after teaching for a few years in early Music Education or Music Therapy.

Do you already know Evan?

Evan and I know each other well! He was a squad leader my freshmen year and took me under his wing, mentoring me through my first year in the SMB. Being in the same studio in the College of Music and in ensembles, we spend a lot of time together. We are really looking forward to working together because we already know each other well and will have of fun! Although he will be spending a lot of time teaching me the ropes, Evan is very relaxed and has welcomed me right into the role. Our leadership styles complement each other and will allow us to function efficiently on the field. Given our prior friendship we feel comfortable and trust each other, which is important when you’re strutting full force at each other in the stadium! We are both passionate about band but love to laugh and be goofy. We spent the past few weeks as instructors at the PAC Drum Major camp with many of the former SMB drum majors and got a chance to work together, which got us excited for the season!

What was the audition process for drum majors like?

The audition process is stressful. The past Drum Major spends a couple of months prior to the audition teaching the fundamentals of the pregame routine, back bend, strut, commands, and marching. This year we had the largest number of people ever come to audition. The audition itself consists of fitness testing, back bending, doing the pregame routine with the strutting entrance and marching. After narrowing it down to just a few, the audition process is completed by performing with the current drum major, and finally an interview. Then the wait begins to hear the results.

What motivated you to try out for drum major? Can you describe how you felt when you found out you were selected?

Rachel Linsmeier is my main inspiration. I auditioned for Drum Major in high school and wasn’t sure what to expect as I was young and fairly quiet. Pat Brumbaugh, my director at the time, believed in me and placed me in the role. Rachel, a student teacher at the time, mentored me through my first year. I received leadership training from her and from the MSU PAC camp and started to grow into the role. The next year Rachel became my band director and I was able to improve even further on my leadership skills. She was not only a role model for leadership but also an advocate for women in Music Education and Leadership.

Hearing the news about becoming a drum major in the SMB was unreal. I was training for a half marathon at the time and was out for a long run. I came home and got the email and was so tired I dropped to the floor. It was incredibly relieving and exciting at the same time. I called my mom and the entire conversation was her screaming at work!

Any interests outside of music/band?

My interests outside of band include playing IM soccer, running, hiking, and traveling. I love golf, however I’m terrible. My brother was a golf pro and my sister went to state finals for golf in high school. The genes somehow missed me.

Anything else that you would like to share?

I love the SMB and I am honored to step into the role of Drum Major!