August 29, 2014

The Madden Years: 1989-Present

Madden Comes to MSU

On August 1, 1989, John T. Madden accepted the position of Associate Director of Bands and Director of the Spartan Marching Band. Madden was a 1985 graduate of the MSU School of Music and former trumpet section leader and Vice-President of the Spartan Marching Band.

Madden received his Masters Degree in Music Education and Wind Conducting from Wichita State University (KS) where he served for two years as Graduate Assistant in the University Band Department. Before coming back to MSU, Madden held the post as Associate Director of Bands and Marching Band Director at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey from 1987 to 1989.

Having served on two DCI Finalist Drum Corps staffs, (the Phantom Regiment and the Cadets of Bergen County) he began to incorporate greater color guard and visual coordination within Spartan Marching Band drill. Madden has labeled the Spartan Marching Band in the 90′s as an eclectic drill style band, incorporating the ultimate in high step precision drill and tradition, combined with the newest contemporary drill and visual techniques.

Leadership Training

One of Madden’s first acts as director was to establish leadership training for squad and section leaders. Each fall, this group of elected student leaders participate in classroom sessions, as well as workshops to further understand their roll as teachers of the younger members of the Spartan Band. Additional programs have also been designed for the SMB membership to help deal with the issues of alcohol and drug education, hazing, and harassment.

First Female Band President and Drum Major

In 1992, Janet Murray of Sterling Heights, Michigan was elected the band’s first female Band President. Janet was a Music Education Major and Alto Saxophone Section Leader. In 1995, The first female Drum Major was Mary Houhanisin of Brighton, Michigan. Mary was the 3rd Brighton alum to serve as Spartan Marching Band Drum Major.

A New Director of Bands

The spring of 1993 marked the retirement of Director of Bands, Kenneth G. Bloomquist. John L. Whitwell came to MSU from Stephen F. Austin State University to accept the position of Director of Bands at MSU. Professor Whitwell concentrated primarily on the MSU Wind Symphony and Symphony Band while teaching Graduate Conducting students.

New Uniforms and a New Coach

The 1995 season opened with very special happenings. Nick Saban was hired as the new football coach, and the band recieved their 5th set of green and white uniforms. Additionally, for the first time, all SMB drill charts were computer generated, using Advantage Showare. The 1995 season ended with a bus trip to Shreveport, Louisiana for the 1995 Independence Bowl vs. the L.S.U. Tigers. The Spartans lost the game.

A Trip to Disney World

In 1999, the Spartan Band enjoyed a successful trip to South Bend for a third consecutive Spartan victory over the Irish. Home wins over Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State capped a great 9-2 season with losses to Purdue and Wisconsin. The Citrus Bowl invited MSU, its team and band to Orlando, Florida.

The SMB enjoyed the New Years Day spotlight on ABC Television as well as parades at Disney MGM Studios, Universal Studios, and of course the Magic Kingdom Parade on New Years Eve of the new Millennium. The Spartans beat the Florida Gators by a field goal on the last play of the game!

Looking to the Future

John Madden has continued to develop programs and methods to keep the Spartan Marching Band on the cutting edge of the college marching band world. TRADITION, INNOVATION, & EXCELLENCE: These are the trademarks of the Spartan Marching Band. Throughout its long and proud history, the SMB has adhered to these watchwords, and will continue to do so in the years to come.