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.

Meet the 2019 SMB: Lisa Lachowski

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After an extensive audition process, we are excited to have Lisa Lachowski join current Drum Major Jaren Scoggins as the newest Drum Major of the Spartan Marching Band. Previously she was an Alto Saxophone section leader in the SMB, and a high school Drum Major for two years. Being a Drum Major of the Spartan Marching Band has been a long dream for Lisa, and she is extremely excited to be dubbed as “F5”, the Fifth Female Drum Major in SMB History. “I am just so honored to follow the four amazing women that have led our band, and I hope to continue to positively impact other young women in and outside of the SMB.”

Her dream of being a college Drum Major, all started with her middle school band director…

“He was a Drum Major at Eastern Michigan back in the day, and would share stories with us. It was pretty early that the “dream” of becoming a Drum Major in college began. Granted, I didn’t know nearly enough about it! It continued through high school, learning invaluable amounts from fulfilling the role there.

The interest in SMB Drum Majors came alive when attending the MSU Performing Arts Camp, and meeting Rachel Linsmeier (“F2”). The DM staff gave us wide-eyed high school students a look into the SMB, as well as what it means to be a leader in it. Throughout that week and onward, Rachel set a strong example and was a constant inspiration. I couldn’t wait to learn more from her, and join the band she spoke so proudly of!

Flash forward to the last three years marching in the SMB, and I think I’m understanding what an SMB Drum Major is and can be! Spending the most recent season as an Alto Saxophone Section Leader humbled and taught me so much. . . having that chance to be part of our team that serves, gives back, and brings up the next generation of SMB members. Thinking back on the culture, work ethic, and musicality that our section improved together made me wonder what could be done on the full band level. Then, looking at the Drum Major position, I saw room to share these experiences and continue serving our band.”

Lisa is excited to find new and innovative ways to develop and expand the position of the SMB Drum Major. She says that “with changes in the visual staff, we’ll need to step into new teaching roles – with both fundamentals throughout Preseason, and drill on the field.”

Another goal of hers is to continue to find ways to bring sections closer together. “We can begin to inspire meetings and mutual support. We can engage in hornline and drumline sectionals, attend Color Guard rehearsals, and learn more from our Big Ten Flags.”

There is a delicate sense of care to everything she does. She pays attention to everyone, and is invested in everything you have to say. She says that she is determined to learn all 300+ names of the members of the SMB, and when it comes to Lisa, you know she will do more than just learn their names.

As someone who has known Lisa since Day One of Freshman year, I can honestly say that from the moment I met her, I knew she was destined to be an SMB Drum Major. You feel yourself smile whenever you’re around her, and she exudes kindness, optimism, and a passion for music wherever she goes. She is driven by helping others and her love for music education.

Lisa was originally adopted from Moscow, Russia, but grew up in Rochester Hills, Michigan. She is currently studying Music Education and Clarinet Performance in the MSU College of Music. After graduation, she hopes to experience living and teaching abroad. She says that South America is one of her favorite places, and would love to spend some long term time there. But after that, she hopes that her career will lead to teaching music at the high school and college levels. Outside of band, Lisa likes to cycle, run, and swim.

Spartan Percussionists to Perform in Taiwan

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Several MSU percussionists will head to Taiwan this weekend to perform at the 2019 Taiwan Percussion Arts Alliance (TPAA) meeting. This year, the TPAA has coordinated with the Taiwan Band Directors Association and Taiwan Band Clinic to create a five-day Taiwan Winds and Percussion Music Festival. It will be the largest international music competition and conference in Taiwan this year. In March of this year, the MSU student ensemble won First Prize in the 2019 TPAA Online Percussion Ensemble Competition with their performance of a piece written by ensemble member and 2019 College of Music graduate Darrien Spicak.

The prize money from the Taiwan competition will help fund the trip to perform there. A large portion of the trip is also funded through the MSU Championship Drumline Endowment, spearheaded by Merritt Lutz and other generous alumni and friends of the MSU Drumline. The students will be performing in a showcase of contest winners at the conference, which is expecting around 2500 – 5000 participants. The students will travel with MSU percussion instructor Dr. Jon Weber, who will be also be involved with the conference through performing, leading workshops, and teaching clinics and masterclasses.

Dr. Weber says, “It is a great responsibility to work with international directors, instructors, and students who are learning about drumlines. We are excited about this opportunity! The MSU Drumline members have worked hard on this; they have really been fantastic.” Darrien Spicak adds, “We are looking forward to connecting with percussionists from all over the world. I have enjoyed this whole process and an looking forward to experiencing the Taiwanese culture.” Jack Tallman, a music education senior, says, “This has been a great opportunity to prepare challenging music to share at the event. We are grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to perform and learn from watching the other performers.” The MSU Drumline Ensemble students are Darrien Spicak, Zach Flowers, Spencer Eaton, Jack Tallman, Micah Prior, Matt Kokotovich, and Patrick Blommel.

Special thanks to the Taiwan Percussion Arts Alliance, MSU College of Music, Yamaha, Connor Riegal, John Scharf, Sarah Hobson, Alice Pan, and the MSU Drumline Alumni for their help in making this trip possible.

Meet the Band: Color Guard

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by Ilene Gould and Leah Wright

Amidst all of the clean, militaristic lines of the SMB, the sparkles and glitter of the SMB Color Guard add a beautiful and colorful visual to every performance. But beneath the smiles, costumes, and flags, are some of the fiercest performers in any college band. Being in the Color Guard takes hours of preparation, hard work, and years of experience. We are lucky enough to have two fantastic color guard oriented organizations at Michigan State. The SMBCG that performs with the Marching Band, and State of Art, and independent winter guard that performs and competes during the spring semester all around the country.

Just a few weeks ago, State of Art competed at the WGI Finals in Dayton, Ohio and for the first time in Independent Open, a higher class ranking than in previous years. With a show entitled “I think…”, this theme surrounded the concept of how we form ideas and what do with them. Led by an instrumental and voice-over track, the show follows how we process ideas, how we figure out what to do with them, and eventually how collaboration and teamwork help ideas blossom and develop into fruition.

Junior English major Leah Wright, a member of both the SMBCG and SOA, says that she thinks this year’s SOA show really reflects the essence of color guard and marching band. She notes that the best part is when ideas help bring people together to collaborate and create the best performance and show possible.

The best part about collaboration is when you can really see the audience participate and engage in the performance. Wright says that one of her favorite shows from the SMBCG 2019 season was the “Breakout Artists” show featuring music from Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, and Beyonce. The entire band performed a dance during a drum break of the song “Single Ladies” and the Color Guard was extremely instrumental in teaching the choreography to the band. Wright says it was really cool “to get that big response from that big of a stadium. It’s fun and new and people really enjoyed it.”

Wright also talked about the differences between performing in a winter guard and performing with a marching band. She notes that it’s really cool to see the audiences faces during an SOA performance, versus performing for a crowd of 75,000 people. The choreography is a lot more intricate and detailed in SOA because you don’t have to project to a stadium full of people. In the SMBCG the choreography is a lot larger and simpler to increase its readability to a that large of an audience.

Wright says that one of her favorite parts about being involved in both organizations is the evolution of technique. Wherever you march, you learn different styles and techniques with different types of staff members and teaching styles. This diversity makes you able to adapt and march anywhere outside of Michigan State, whether it be drum corps or otherwise, it helps make you a more successful performer.

Like any other section in the Spartan Marching Band, the SMBCG has a lot of their own traditions that make them unique. Every year they give out the Maggie Martindale Award, in remembrance of a color guard member who passed away in the ‘80s, to a Junior in the guard who embodies her positive sunshine spirit. On their very first away trip every season, they take a moment to remember Maggie by taking a shot of peach juice before they get on the bus. Her favorite drink was Peach Schnapps and this is their way of keeping her spirit and memory alive. They also take a moment to remember former color guard director Orlando Suttles by passing out his favorite treat – lemon drops, as he used to say, “Life’s not that deep, have a piece of candy.”

The color guard is one of the most integral aspects of the Spartan Marching Band, and just over a month, they will be holding auditions to be a part of next year’s ensemble! Wright says to “Breathe and look up! One of the things we live by in the SMBCG is ‘fake it ‘till you make it.’ Color guard is fun and that’s what we’re all here to do.”

If you’re interested in auditioning, or looking for more information go to or check out the event on Facebook:

Auditions are June 22nd, 2019 and start at 8:30am.

Meet the Band: Drumline

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By Ilene Gould

One of the most iconic symbols of any marching band is the drumline. An essential aspect of the Spartan Marching Band, the drumline helps keep the beat and continues to propel the ensemble forward day in and day out.

A foundational root of the SMB, the traditions within the drumline go back almost to the very beginning of the band when it was founded in 1870. But the key date within the drumline is the inception of “The Series” created by Merritt Lutz in 1966. Known today as the infamous March to the Stadium, “The Series” is a four-minute drum cadence accompanied by movement, choreography, and various vocals throughout the band. It is an ever-evolving part of the SMB with little additions and revisions each year, but the core foundation remains the same.

Every year on Alumni Band Day, the current members of the drumline and the alumni members of the drumline have a “drum-off” and play “The Old Series” vs. “The New Series.” It’s an amazing display of history, tradition, and the evolution of the fifty-three-year old cadence.

Sophomore Tenor Drum Ben Faupel says “the best part of the MSU Drumline is the relationships that you make. The crazy experiences that you have on this Drumline creates a permanent bond that nobody can replicate.” He adds that the “Drumline is very fortunate to have such a strong connection with our alumni, and the support that they give us is very heartwarming.”

Other prominent traditions within the drumline include performing at the Student Book Store on Gameday, performing the “Third Quarter Cheer” filled with choreography, tricks, flips, and other impressive exploits during the Game; and they are also known for their many iconic pieces including Martian Mambo, Ditty, and X.

Part of what makes the SMB as a whole so exceptional, is the individual commitment to improve all year round. For example, many band members participate in Drum Corps International, where several different corps and marching bands work all summer to travel and compete around the country. Another outlet for musicians outside of the SMB, is Winter Guard International (WGI). WGI is an indoor version of marching band with three different categories – Color Guard, Winds, and Drumline.

Many of the SMB drummers participate in WGI every year, and during WGI season, drummers travel around the country for rehearsals and competitions and often dedicate 6 months worth of weekends to the activity. Right now, WGI ensembles across the country are preparing for the annual WGI finals that take place in Dayton, Ohio at the end of the April. Sophomore Cymbal Inori Nakamura says that she personally loves the amount of body, visuals, and storytelling within WGI shows.”

It’s a drastic change and adjustment compared to the militaristic style of the SMB. WGI is often very artsy, expressionistic, and filled with dance and choreography as well as the normal drill formations like in any marching band show. However, the work ethic and training are just the same, everyone is striving towards perfection.

A big force behind the push towards excellence is Dr. Jon Weber, the director of the SMB drumline. Nakamura says that “his teaching methods and personality makes this Drumline not only fun, but the best. He’s an instructor whom you trust indefinitely, and you know he cares about the line more than anyone else.” It’s mentors like Dr. Weber that help carry on the fundamentals and push the drumline to be the best they can be. Nakamura says that “At the end of the day, I’m always proud to be in the Spartan Drumline, marching with people who really matter, and carrying the name of the Drumline to the next generation.”

Meet the Band: Taylor Scheffer, Feature Twirler

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by Ilene Gould

From a very young age, MSU Feature Twirler Taylor Scheffer, has always had a love for performing. She says she remembers watching her best friend twirl on the playground in elementary school, who eventually taught her how to and ever since then, she’s been taking private lessons, taking classes, and competing all around the country, for nearly ten years.

Twirling is a very unique, niche of a community that takes not only a high level of athleticism, but it also requires a background in dance and gymnastics. First starting as a gymnast, and eventually turning towards twirling, Taylor loves that in order to be a good twirler, you have to continuously perfect your skills and technique of gymnasts and dancers while twirling a baton. Being a twirler takes a balanced combination of dedication, perseverance, self-discipline, stamina, memory retention, and lots of hand eye coordination.

She says, “people often comment on how effortless baton twirling looks but, they cannot see the years of practice baton twirling required to perfect the skill. Twirling a baton is not something you can pick up one day and be great at; it takes an extreme amount of dedication and perseverance. Twirlers, like any other athlete, spend hours practicing and polishing skills to accomplish their goals and make a performance enjoyable.”

As a part of the small twirling community, Taylor says that she has been able to make friends from all over the country, and no matter who they are competing against, she’s always found it to be a supportive and welcoming environment. This supportive dynamic drew her to MSU. She remembers attending her first football game in Spartan Stadium and immediately fell in love with the professionalism and dedication of the Spartan Marching Band. As one of the oldest and most widely recognized marching bands in the country, she knew she wanted to be a part of the strong traditions and high level of excellence that the SMB holds.

Just like the other members of the marching band, Taylor has to learn new shows, new routines, and practice each and every day to prepare for Gameday. Her rehearsal consists of stretching, practicing tricks, and incorporating her performance with the rest of the band. Twirling at the collegiate level takes a lot of time and dedication, and Taylor says that her best advice to anyone would be “to keep practicing and find tricks that make you as a twirler stand out during the audition process.” If you’re interested in being a Twirler for the Spartan Marching Band, they often look for candidates with high level twirling skills, good physical fitness, good showmanship, and the ability to entertain a stadium full of people.

Taylor credits her success as a twirler to Twirl-M’s, located in Walled Lake, Michigan, as well as her coach Rhonda Muscaro.

Taylor is a current Junior at MSU and is majoring in Kinesiology with the goal of attending PA school after graduation.

Spartan Alumni Drum Majors Organize Campaign to Endow Glen Brough Leadership Award

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Since 1975, Glen Brough has served MSU, the Spartan Marching Band (SMB) and MSU Performing Arts Camp (PAC) in many influential roles from drum major and student leader to world-class marching and visual instructor sharing his expertise to develop young leaders with an unwavering commitment to the traditions and excellence of the SMB. This year (2018) is Glen’s last season with the SMB, as he has announced his retirement from MSU effective Aug 2019.

SMB Alumni and friends are working to raise $50,000 to fund the Brough Leadership Award Endowment to provide tuition scholarships to SMB members who meet criteria serving in leadership positions and those who demonstrate a capacity to achieve educational and professional goals, along with the motivation to seek personal growth and development.

Early donors have established a matching gift opportunity for the first $20,000 pledged toward this endowment. The impact of your individual contribution will be doubled with a pledge which can be paid over a five-year period.

Contributions at any amount are welcome. Please support the campaign to endow the Brough Leadership Award and support SMB student leaders for years to come! Make a secure online donation today by clicking below, OR to make a multi-year pledge, please feel free to contact Madison Dugan, Assistant Director of Development / Alumni Relations for the MSU College of Music at or by calling 517-432-4888.

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