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

featured image 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:

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!

Way-back Wednesday: The Evolution of the SMB Uniform

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By Veronica Klingel
Photographs taken by Ilene Gould, courtesy of the MSU Archives

You may be familiar with the current Spartan Marching Band Uniforms, but over the ensemble’s long history there have been several variations of the design. The SMB Media Team recently had the opportunity to visit the Michigan State University Archives and see the vast collection of historic uniforms.

The uniform worn by the SMB has grown and evolved alongside the organization that it represents. Modifications made to the uniform were reflective of change in the ensemble, and in the beginning, these alterations were made for very practical reasons. For example, the earliest uniforms bear the letters “M.A.C.”, since at the time of the SMB’s inception MSU was called Michigan Agricultural College. Therefore, the new name necessitated a new uniform.

M.A.C. Marching Band Uniform – circa 1906. Here, the uniform bears the letters “M.A.C.” to represent the land grant school’s original name, Michigan Agricultural College

The SMB originated as a part of the Reserve Officers Training Corps, so the initial SMB uniforms had a much more militaristic design than the uniforms worn today. Additionally, the first few uniforms were not even made in the school’s colors. The iconic green and white uniforms did not come along until 1952 when Michigan State College officially became Michigan State University, and while the color shift is indicative of the separation between the SMB and its ROTC roots, the military style is still very present in the uniform.

Drum Major Uniform (left, 1952-1964) and MSU Band Uniform (right, 1952-1964)

As time wore on, the SMB uniform was modernized. The ensemble was shifting away from its military background to a role more based in sporting events and entertainment, and this shift carried over to the design of the uniform. Updates to the styling of the SMB uniform were dictated more by changes in fashion than by the ensemble’s ROTC history, which is especially evident in the design worn between 1964 and 1974 (below). Even the hardware on the uniform was upgraded, replacing the old school button with a more convenient and efficient zip-up system.

Marching Band Uniform (1964-1974). This version of the SMB uniform included fringe over both shoulders of the jacket, an element that was very in-style at the time this uniform was worn. The white spartan overlay can also come off so the green underneath can double as a concert uniform.

Marching Band Uniforms from 1974-1985 (left),1985-1994 (center), and 1995-2003 (right)

The SMB’s extensive history has been a time of tremendous growth, development, and change. The organization has existed under three different names, performed in various capacities across campus and beyond, and transformed from a ten member military band to an ensemble that today is three hundred members strong. But for all of the change that this ensemble has seen, one thing is constant – the overwhelming sense of pride one feels while wearing the SMB uniform. No matter what the uniform looks like, it is a symbol of hard work, dedication, and determination. The uniform is a vessel for our ensemble’s story, and it is just one more element of the SMB that connects current members to one hundred and fifty years of tradition and excellence.

To see the complete Spartan Marching Band Uniform timeline, visit:

2020 Feature Twirler Auditions

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Audition packets with cover letter, three letters of recommendation, resume, and DVD are due by January 1, 2020. Please send these to:

Dr. David Thornton
Michigan State University College of Music
333 West Circle Drive
Room 118
East Lansing, MI 48824

If you choose to have a link to your video instead of a DVD, please send the cover letter, letters of recommendation, resume and link to the video to Sarah Cordeiro at by January 1, 2020.

Call Back for Live Auditions:
o Date: March 7th, 2020
o Location: Demonstration Hall Arena
o What to wear: Costume of choice, comfortable athletic clothes to change into
o What to have prepared:
* 3-4 minute routine to the music of your choice
* 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
* Improvisation routine to music we will provide
* A list of tricks that will be sent to you via email with your live call back invitation
o Running will also be a part of the process, and an interview will conclude the audition

Questions? Please feel free to contact either of the following people:
Sarah Cordeiro, Instructor of Feature Twirlers:
Dr. David Thornton, Director of SMB:

Thank you!
Sarah Cordeiro MS, RD

Meet the 2019 SMB: Peter Clay, Voice of the Band

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by Veronica Klingel

From the electric energy of pregame, to the musicality and precision of the halftime show, the Spartan Marching Band strives to achieve the highest level of excellence. Every SMB performance is the culmination of hours of behind-the-scenes effort and planning, and often the individuals who put so much into the ensemble go unrecognized by the public. Today, we’d like to introduce you to one of these unsung heroes — Peter Clay, the Voice of the SMB.

Peter Clay, freshman SMB Tuba in 1995 (right)

Peter Clay first got involved with the SMB in 1995 when he was a freshman in college as a member of the Tuba section. His sophomore year, he discovered a passion for telecommunications through his experience working at the WTIL Radio Station, and over the coming years went on to work at multiple area radio stations as a DJ and promotional assistant. Naturally, his personal investment in the SMB and his experience in the communications field made him a natural fit to be the ensemble’s announcer. Clay lobbied former SMB Director John Madden for the chance at the role, and eventually, Madden said yes.

Clay served as the voice of the SMB in the fall of 1998, but upon graduation found himself relocating to North Carolina to pursue a career in radio with a country music station, thus leaving behind his announcing gig with the SMB. But in 2006, when Clay returned to Lansing with his wife, Christie, and two children, Logan and Addy, he knew he wanted to reconnect with the Spartan Marching Band. “The SMB represented such a huge part of my time at MSU. I still had so much of that passion for marching band, and I would have done anything to be able to be on staff in some way.”

Clay has been announcing for the SMB for a combined total of thirteen years, but the thrill he feels when performing with the ensemble hasn’t diminished. He particularly enjoys introducing the band during pregame, and says it is his favorite part of gamedays. “I know it’s the same every game,” says Clay, “but the energy in the stadium when the band comes out of the tunnel… and when it’s time for me to say “Michigan State University is Proud to Present, the Spartan Marching Band!!!” It’s just indescribable. Not unlike how it felt to be on the field for that same moment.”

Peter Clay, Spartan Stadium Press Box

For all of the excitement that Clay feels on Gamedays in East Lansing, his most memorable experience as the voice of the SMB took place far from the press box of Spartan Stadium. In 2014, Clay accompanied the SMB on their trip to Pasadena, California, to perform at the Rose Bowl. “It was a lifelong goal to see MSU play in [that] game. And it became the goal to announce in that iconic stadium. It did not disappoint.”

Peter Clay’s voice has gained notoriety far beyond his work with the SMB, and is well known around campus and the Lansing area. His recognizable tone can be heard announcing for MSU hockey games, doing professional voiceover and narration work, and even singing in a band. Despite the fact that Clay juggles a full plate as a husband, father, performer, and Sales Manager for a TV station, he is still happy to make time to work with the marching band. “Being a part of the [SMB] is important to me.”

When asked what it’s like to be “The Voice of the SMB”, Clay had this to say: “Announcing in Spartan Stadium always gives me a thrill. I get to be somewhat anonymous, but also am an integral part of the show, without taking anything away from the band,” he says. “It’s probably the coolest thing I do.”

Peter Clay has become an essential part of the SMB sound, and our organization is privileged to have him on board.

Stories for 150 Years

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by Ilene Gould

Today is about storytelling. It’s about letting the members of the SMB share their stories without me, the writer, getting in the way. 1200 people back for Alumni Band means 1200 stories, and while I wish we could document every single story from that day, here are a few incredible moments shared by current members of the SMB.

Libby Draeger (Senior, Political Science, Colorguard)

“I got to spend the weekend marching with my parents and it was a dream come true! Getting a picture of all three of us in our band jackets in front of the shield in Dem Hall was the second greatest thing that happened, the first being me getting to meet and teach all of the people my mom marched with, whom I had never met before. The 80’s Ladies were so sweet and ready to learn, and I really hope they all come back for alumni band next year.”

“Another cool thing was each color guard getting to “show and tell” our versions of the Series and the fight song. All of the alumni members were grouped according to when they marched, and it was so cool to see how both have changed and when those changes happened.”

Riley Barry (Sophomore, Zoology, Trumpet)

“I just wanted to say that it was such an incredible experience to march with my high school band director, sister, and former high school classmates. When leaving the field from half time, my band director said “we just did our first show together!” and that was such a cool feeling.”

Pujan Bhattarai, Sho Dembinski, Ryan Malburg, Patrick Dudzinski, Samantha Barringer, Riley Barry, Bailey Barry, Kristen Dudzinski.

“Pujan, Sho, Ryan, Sam, Bailey and Riley went to Walled Lake Western High School where Patrick Dudzinski is the director and Mrs. D assists on the field. She is also the director of the middle school band that Pujan, Sho, and Ryan were in. It was such a cool experience to play together with all of these people.”

Troy Anderson (Senior, Computer Engineering, Trombone Section Leader)

“My favorite part from this special weekend was circling up with 130+ current and former Spartan Bones. I had the unforgettable oportunity to lead these people in F tuning. I’ve never heard anything louder in my life. We followed that up with our trombone chant that we traditionally do on Adams Field. The alumni taught us youngsters previous versions of our chant. Getting to catch up with the former bones I knew was fun, but meeting alumni from before my time is what made that day special.”

Check out this monster sound here:

Lane Perry (Senior, Civil Engineering, Trumpet)

“For me, the best part about homecoming this year was seeing all of the alumni that marched so many years ago come back to East Lansing to be a part of this celebration, including former members that I had the opportunity to march with over the last four years. In addition to seeing some of the familiar traditions and new ideas that have evolved over the years, this halftime show was the largest halftime show that I’ve ever been a part of!”

Lisa Lachowski (Senior, Music Education + Clarinet Performance, Drum Major)

Of the many moments we shared that day, the most unforgettable was singing and playing Shadows at post-game. Never had the stadium been so quiet with that number of people – 1,200 of them holding instruments, we might add. The Shadows’ 4-part harmony was rich and full. . . Director Bloomquist seemed to be pulling each sonority through a sea of sentiment… the transfer from vocals to horns was effortless, seamless, and beautiful. What finally got me was scanning the arcs at all the Spartan Marching Band Alumni creating that music, and then at the former Drum Majors before us. I had grown to love them. From meeting an old DM at rehearsal earlier that week, it was clear that we – and everyone else coming soon – were family. Holding them close after our songs is a feeling I will always carry with me. After that post-game Shadows released, there were families everywhere on our field.

Harrison Orwig (Freshman, Media and Information, Trumpet)

“I was already feeling emotional the morning of the game before the full band reunited. There seemed to be a feeling in the air of ‘something great to come’ during our first rehearsal, like the field itself was preparing for an energy not yet seen anywhere before. When the alumni arrived, I began to actually comprehend the scale of importance these one hundred and fifty years of Spartan Marching Band has had.”

“This understanding was not fully recognized until the tail-end of pregame, though, when Prf. Bloomquist took to the ladder – alumni standing behind to support him if needed – and conducted our Alma Mater, ‘MSU Shadows.’”

“History drifted from his hands as he gave us that first downbeat. His face, lost in a calm smile that echoed the hundreds of times he’s led this song before, gazed across the band as he moved us through the first verse like an autumn leaf, dancing from its branch in a cool breeze. He looked at us from the eyes of a grandfather to child, but he hid a small glimmer as if to say, ‘I was you, and you will be me. We are the same in different times.’”
“I started to think about the past as we picked up that second stanza; how much influence he’s had on so many people – both band members and audience. I started to think about the future; Dr. Thornton standing in his position in fifty years, me in the stands. Tay would all be grown up then, her friends watching her grow and change into a beautiful person resembling her father, with ‘Bagel’ following not far behind. I thought about family; how much I want to stand with the new brand-freshman and promise that I would do anything for them like the past student-leaders before me. For the first time, I saw the band fully for what it was: an idea greater than itself; a family made to bring happiness to so many, and I cried. Sobbed. Tears poured down my face as we held the final chord, and when we counted those first counts to “Pregame Fight,” I forgot where I was.”

“I ended up missing a TTR completely after we finished playing “Shadows” with Bloomquist. I recovered pretty well, but my emotions were so strong that it clouded my muscle-memory of that drill, and I was the only one to make a mistake during that move. Am I embarrassed? A little, but I know that my error was for a good cause, and I’ll be sure not to make it again. For that game‘s recording, though, the bottom right of the “S” in Shield will have one dot spin a little late because he was crying too hard.”

Way-back Wednesday: What is a Legacy?

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by Ilene Gould

A year ago, I asked past and present members of the SMB who have had kids, parents, or siblings in the band, to talk about what legacy means to them. In this historic anniversary celebrating 150 years of Michigan State Bands, we hear the words “what is a legacy” echoing through our minds, and many former and current members are constantly thinking about how this band came to fruition and how it continues to stand to this day.

What started as a 10 member ensemble in 1870 has evolved into today’s 300 member Spartan Marching Band. The SMB is a family of 300, but it also has created actual couples, relationships, and band families that span over generations throughout history.

Former Alto Saxophone Holly Bronson (2016-2017) calls herself a “legacy marcher” having had her grandfather, her father, and her brother all march with the SMB. She says “something that my grandpa did in college was passed on to his son, and it was important enough to him that it made its way, without ever being explicitly stated, to both of his children as well…That passion for the Spartan Marching Band that has been passed through our family for over seventy years is a legacy – and to me, is certainly our greatest one.”

Jim Bronson, Burton Bronson, Holly Bronson, Jake Bronson – Alumni Band, 2016

Her brother Jake Bronson, a current fifth year in the SMB and Trumpet section leader says, “For a while I had wanted to march in the SMB to be like my Dad, but the closer I got to it, the more it became an important part of my own identity as well.”

Phil Bertolini, a Spartan Tuba (1981-1984), who now has his son Steve in the trumpet section, says that “when you see different generations representing the same family, you really understand the impact the SMB legacy has.”

(left) Steve Bertolini, age 8. (right) Phil Bertolini, Steve Bertolini – Alumni Band, 2018

Many other families spurred from the SMB as well, including former trombone Tom Hedlund (1985-1989) and his wife Denise Hedlund who marched Alto Saxophone (1987-1990). Their son, Ben Hedlund (Junior), is currently a member of the trombone and bass bone section. When asked “how has being in the SMB impacted your family?” Denise said, “the question should be, what hasn’t it impacted? We are band for life.” She follows up with “Legacy means everything.”

Denise Hedlund, Ben Hedlund, Tom Hedlund – 2019

Many current members of the band have all had parents who marched together, and it’s incredible to see today’s members bond over having had parents in the band. Holly Wilhelm (Alto Saxophone, 1983-1986), whose daughter Annaliese Patenge (sophomore), now marches in the Big Ten section, says that “having a child in the band fills me with nostalgia and pride! I see her and it takes me right back to those fall days on campus when I was her age. It gives me great pride knowing that she aspires to present her best for our beloved university as I did.”

(left) Annaliese Patenge, Holly Wilhelm, 2018. (right) Annaliese Patenge, Holly Wilhelm, 2018

Former Alto Saxophone Susan Gould (1987-1991), and former Trumpet Bob Gould (1988-1990) now have a daughter Ilene Gould in the Mellophone section. Susan says that “there is so much pride in that band, and I’m thrilled that she gets to experience being a part of it – part of something bigger than herself. Part of a legacy, part of a stable, constant success story.”

(left) Susan Gould, Denise Hedlund – 1990. (center) Susan Gould, Ilene Gould, Bob Gould – Alumni Band, 2016. (right) Bob Gould, Rose Bowl, 1988

Another former Alto, Ann Simmons Holt (1993-1996), met her husband Blake Holt (Alto, 1992-1996) and now have a daughter Erin in the Big Ten section. She recalls the time she saw Erin in her uniform for the first time. “I’m not a terribly emotional person, but I got tears in my eyes and was speechless.” Like so many other parents, they dreamt of seeing their child wear an SMB uniform and come through the tunnel for the very first time. Ann says “her first March to the Stadium, and seeing her kickstep onto the field were moments that will be etched in my memory, much like her first words and first steps.”

Phil Bertolini says that “watching your children fulfill their dreams and engage their passion is an amazing feeling.” The SMB has shaped generations of families, and continues to do that each and every day.

Ann Holt adds that “the great thing about the SMB is that it really HASN’T changed that much since we were in band. It is still an organization that prides itself on excellence – on and off the field. The hard work and pride that goes into preseason, rehearsals and performances is still evident. Most importantly, the fact that the SMB is truly a ‘family’ is what makes it truly special.”

There is something special about the East Lansing “bubble.” The minute you enter the city limits, a feeling of ease descends upon Spartan Nation. Gameday’s are a particularly unique holiday across campus. Shouts of “WAKE UP IT’S GAMEDAY” echo loudly, but are eventually trumped by the sounds of the early morning fight song to start morning rehearsal. It feels as though for just a few hours, the rest of the world stops, and East Lansing celebrates all the Green and White. This Saturday is going to be just like any other Saturday for a lot of people, but for the past and present members of 150 years of Spartan Marching Band history, they are going to remember this Gameday forever as they celebrate with nearly eleven-hundred bandos from all generations. A day like this Saturday wouldn’t be possible without the legacy of the 149 ensembles that came before the 2019 Spartan Marching Band.

“To me, legacy means that you’ve loved something so much that you wanted to share that love with those who came after you and want them to experience those same things,” – Holly Wilhelm.

Way-back Wednesday: Creating a Legacy: The first women of the SMB

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Creating a Legacy: The first women of the SMB
by: Ilene Gould

On June 23rd, 1972, a federal civil rights law, called “Title IX”, was passed. It stated that “no person in the United State shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded form participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Beth Mlynarek, 1972

Meanwhile, nineteen-year-old Beth Mlynarek was about to embark on her sophomore year at Western Michigan University, until one day she saw an article posted in her hometown’s newspaper that discussed the passing of Title IX and how it was about to create more opportunities for women in the workforce, in schools, and in athletics. It also happened to mention that the Spartan Marching Band would now be accepting women in the ensemble after nearly 102 years of being entirely male.

At this time, Beth was a feature twirler at Western Michigan, and had been twirling since she was seven, almost twelve years. For the fall of ‘72, Western decided to eliminate the Twirlers and move towards having a rifle line, leaving Beth without an opportunity to pursue her love for twirling, even if it was for just a few more years.

So, on a whim without even being accepted in Michigan State, without even really knowing where MSU was, and without having any clue what kind of statement she would be making, Beth Mlynarek called the band secretary and set up an audition, all in the name of her love for twirling.

The next day she drove up to East Lansing to audition. Today, her audition would’ve taken place, right on the sidewalk that cuts through Adams Field. She performed for Marching Band Director Dave Catron and the current Twirler Dan Williams, who would eventually go on to be a Drum Major of the SMB. In record time, Beth was accepted, enrolled, and moved over to East Lansing before she really had any clue as to what kind of journey lay before her.

Lynne Charboneau, 1972

Beth wasn’t the only woman admitted into the band in the fall of 1972, a junior Alto Saxophone named Lynne Charboneau was her counterpart. A Music Education major, Lynne had an easier time adjusting to the ensemble since she already knew many of the members; but Beth was moving in from Western and didn’t know a single soul.

To them, it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, yet, at the beginning, both women were constantly asked by reporters and journalists to talk about what it was like to be one of the first two women in the Spartan Marching Band. Beth recalls feeling embarrassed because they didn’t want to draw attention to them while upsetting the men of the ensemble. The amount of publicity was unsettling, especially when their original intent was never to make a statement, but more about pursuing a love for twirling, a love for music, and a love for performing.

It was a rocky start at first, but Beth’s goal was to perform to the best of her ability, keep her head down, and prove to everyone that she deserved to be there. Within a few weeks a lot of the struggle and negativity lessened, and eventually she found a very supportive group of guys that helped her settle into MSU, and even helped her sign up for classes. Beth says that despite the challenging start, being in the Spartan Marching Band was the greatest decision of her life, and wouldn’t trade any moment of it for anything.

The next year, in the Fall of 1973, a few more women joined the band totaling up to five, and after that, the number of women increased significantly year after year

Beth marched with the SMB from 1972-1976 with three years in the band as an undergrad studying Special Education, and two years as a graduate student getting a Masters in Reading Instruction. Lynne marched from 1972-1973 and went on to teach high school band down in Texas. In 1987, Lynne was in a car accident, and passed away. On October 13th, 2012 at the MSU-Iowa homecoming game, the band celebrated “Title IX at 40 – Saluting the Women of the Spartan Marching Band,” where Beth, and Lynne’s husband Tony Grigsby, as well as their daughter Megan Grisgby were honored during halftime for their historic representation in the SMB.

Kick-stepping into Spartan Stadium

Beth says that over the last 47 years, a lot has changed and evolved, yet some of the things she created, choreographed, and started, are still present today with our Feature Twirlers. The routine done to Falcone Fight is nearly identical, as well as the pregame entrance and routine. Beth says she smiles every time she sees the Twirlers march down the street doing her routine. There was never an intent for the routine to stay the same forever, yet somehow, it keeps getting passed down year to year, becoming another deeply rooted tradition in the SMB.

Today, Beth is retired after 35 years of teaching and working in administration at Mason Public Schools. She lives in Traverse City with her husband and former SMB French Horn player, Mike Kaufman, (At the time, they used Peck Horns, and Mellophones were not introduced until 1981). They love traveling, working on their house, and for over thirty years, they had season tickets to every Spartan Football Game.

1976 Glen Brough, Mark McKeon, Kathy Skelton, Beth Mlynarek

These two women started a long tradition of creating strong women within the SMB. In 1992 the first female band president, Janet Murray was elected. In 1995, Mary Hulliberger became the first female drum major (F1), followed by Rachel Linsmeier (F2 – 2008), Shannon Black (F3 – 2014) Nikki Sanford (F4 – 2017), and Lisa Lachowski (F5 – 2019). In 2018, Dr. Arris Golden became the first female Associate Director of the Spartan Marching Band.

The Spartan Marching Band has certainly come a long way in its historic 150 years, making it one of the oldest bands in the Big Ten.

In 1870, the SMB was started by a group of ten students, all male.

In 1972, Beth and Lynne became the first two women in the SMB. At the time, there were 180 members in the SMB, making them only 1% of the band.

In 2012, 120 out of the 300 members were female, around 40% of the band.

In 2019, 132 out of the 300 members are female, making them 44% of the ensemble. Nearly half, almost fifty years later.

This article is written today in honor of this week’s halftime show entitled Ladies of the 80’s featuring “I’m So Excited” by The Pointer Sisters, “What a Feeling” by Irene Cara, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” by Whitney Houston, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper, a medley of Madonna songs including “Material Girl,” “Express Yourself,” and “Open Your Heart,” and the show closes with “If I Could Turn Back Time” by Cher and “We Belong,” by Pat Benatar.

Beth says that both she and Mike will be at Alumni Band on September 28th for our homecoming game against Indiana; and as we finished our conversation she said, “I could talk forever about the SMB.” If you asked her about the SMB during Alumni Band, she would tell you the same incredible stories, making you feel even closer to the historic 150 years of SMB history.

2012 – Beth Mlynarek Kaufman, Megan Grigsby, Tony Grigsby, and Alumni Band President (at the time) Jim Barry

2019-20 Spartan Brass Auditions

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Auditions for the 2019-20 Spartan Brass will be Wednesday, October 2, 2019

6:45 PM to 9:30 PM at the College of Music

A second semester 1 credit ensemble. All students who earn a position in the Spartan Brass must enroll for one credit. Sign up for audition times here.

The 1ST REHEARSAL IS SUNDAY, October 6th, 2019
7:00 to 9:30 PM in Demonstration Hall – Band Hall
Music, uniforms, procedures, and season schedule to be discussed. Rehearsal is mandatory.

Spartan Brass will be accepting auditions for the following instruments:

Alto Sax (10), Tenor Sax (6), Trumpet (30 = 10 1st, 10 2nd, 10 3rd), Mellophone (10), Trombone (20 = 6 1st, 7 2nd, 7 3rd), Baritone (12), Tuba (6-8), Electric Bass (2), and Drum Set (3-5).
Note: instrumentation is flexible

What to prepare?

Instrumentalists should prepare a solo or etude, no longer than two minutes. Contrasting styles are recommended. A marching band excerpt is acceptable, but NOT ADVISED.

Percussionists (drum set players) must exhibit mastery of all styles and sight reading ability. All Drum Set players will play for Dr. Jon Weber on or before Oct 6th at Dem Hall. Email or see Dr. Weber for details (

Electric Bass players All E. Bass players must attend the first rehearsal on Oct 6th in Dem Hall and perform with the band (sight read). Bring your own E. Bass, we will supply the amp. Send email to to confirm your spot.