Remembering Maggie St. Clair

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Family is at the heart of what band is all about. Beyond rivalry and pride is a common bond that unites all of our programs together. In this, we mourn alongside our fellow band members in times of tragedy. On Saturday, November 24, our brothers and sisters in the Michigan Marching Band lost one of their own.

Maggie St. Clair, longtime Director of Operations for the University of Michigan Bands, passed away Saturday morning. We know firsthand the work that goes on behind the scenes to make a successful band run. Maggie was an exemplary model of all that goes into the administration of a band program. She interacted with the Spartan Marching Band many times – always a beacon of professionalism and pride in her work. Beyond that, however, she was simply a wonderful
person – devoted, passionate, caring, and loving.

The Michigan Marching Band shared this about Maggie St. Clair:

It is impossible to encompass everything that Maggie meant to the Michigan Marching Band in a short statement. She has been the heart of this organization for decades. The high standards that she held herself andMa those around her to helped shape the MMB into what it is today. Maggie has touched the lives of thousands of individuals within the University community. Her commitment and unrelenting passion for the organization will be greatly missed. Her contributions will be a part of the fabric of the Michigan Marching Band forever. She was a Leader and she was the Best.

Our thoughts are with her family and her family in the University of Michigan Bands.

2019 Feature Twirler Audition Information

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Audition packets with cover letter, three letters of recommendation, resume, and DVD or website link to video at the bottom of your resume are due by January 1, 2019. Please send these to:

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

Call Back for Live Auditions:
o Date: TBD
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 Bennett, Instructor of Feature Twirlers:
Dr. David Thornton, Director of SMB:

Meet the Band: Tubas

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By Ilene Gould

A section deeply rooted in tradition, work ethic, and family, being a Spartan Tuba is considered one of the most physical jobs within the Spartan Marching Band.

“To be a Spartan Tuba, it takes mental and physical determination. This section is not for the faint of heart, as we have to have heavy instruments on our shoulders for almost two hours a day.” Senior, Matt Dowdy describes the endurance and physicality it takes to carry a 40-pound Tuba day-in and day-out. He says that on Gameday’s they’re swinging their horns, marching in formation, and when playing in the stands, most of the time they have less than three seconds to get their horn up ready to play.

Not only is the pure physicality of holding a tuba demanding, but so are the various performance aspects. The Tubas have a particularly rigorous version “The Series” or the SMB’s march to the stadium. Dowdy says that they lift their horns almost completely over their heads 11 times during one sequence of the series and four of those times they bring the bell down in front of them first – this is called a “Dip Flash.”

Tuba Series is taken very seriously. During preseason, the freshman tubas are taught “The Series” separately from the rest of the band to make sure they learn the rhythms, vocals, and all of the moves in a way that helps them manage the massive instrument on their shoulders.

Junior, RJ Dean says “A lot of time your tuba is barely even touching your body. Not many people have the pure determination to throw your tuba down to your legs and back up over your head in two counts.” He also says that while kick stepping their feet are in a resting position instead of moving, and they also don’t participate in the infamous “seven-ups” or various horn swings that you see throughout the band during Pregame. These adjustments are all in the name of making it easier to march with such a massive instrument on their shoulders.

But all of this hard work, determination, and strength just brings the section closer together.
“We are a very close-knit section,” says Dowdy, “having only 24 of us, it is comparable to a brotherhood or family of sorts. Most of the band spends time with their squads, and while we do as well, on many occasions the entire section is involved in social gatherings.” Plus, the Tubas have their own room inside Demonstration Hall where they store their uniforms and instruments that often feels like their own home away from home.

Other traditions within the Tuba Section are often encompassed in their Gameday experience. It starts inside Dem Hall as they all get their uniforms on – they play Gordon Lightfoot’s, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” and sing along loud and proud for all to hear.

Afterwards, all the tubas go to the West Tower of Spartan Stadium and serenade the original Sparty Statue with a Tuba’s only version of “Spartan Fanfare”; a song typically played by the band after the football team scores an extra point after a touchdown.

Once they arrive on Adams Field and conclude their Gameday Warm-up, they all hook their pinky’s together and yell “Do It Up! As they prepare to embark on their iconic Tuba Series down West Circle Drive towards Spartan Stadium.

Being a Spartan Tuba is an honor, and the moment you become one, you join a family of musicians and bandos that truly love what they do. Sophomore Zack Jennings says that something that really sets the tubas apart is that “during the ‘Go right through for MSU’ part of Victory for MSU, we are the only people that play. It is really cool to know the thousands of fans in the stands are just listening to you.” The Spartan Tubas are extremely dedicated musicians, and it takes a lot to throw that forty-pound tuba over your head each and every day.

Meet the Band: Trombones

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By: Ilene Gould

Thousands of faces, freshly mowed grass with stark white numbers, and an uncontainable energy. It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling of being first out of the tunnel at pregame.

And yet, freshman trombone player Madeline Shank does her best to explain.

“The electric environment of Spartan Stadium never fails to amaze me as I start kick stepping. Each time I move down the field in my green and white uniform, a new flood of emotions overtakes me,” Shank says.

“As the applause and ‘go state’ chants enter my ears, all is perfect; I feel at home, I feel like I belong, I feel like a Spartan,” she continues.

Shank feels fortunate to be in the second line of trombones that lead the band down the field during Pregame. At the forefront of it all, she is one of thirty-six trombones in her section.

Senior Kim Roe says she was in the front row of trombones coming out of the tunnel her freshman year. “Nothing will ever be able to imitate the overwhelming emotions of pride I felt. Ten days of preseason, hours of work, mental and physical exhaustion; it was all well-worth that split second of time before kick stepping out of the tunnel for the first time. I will remember spot 26C for the rest of my life.”

Because the trombones have longer slides, they are positioned at the front of almost every formation within the SMB. They lead the band down the street on Gameday, they lead the band out of the tunnel for every pregame, and they sit front and center in the stands. Due to their positioning, the trombones have embraced the phrase, “bones lead the way.” Working to not only be visual leaders, but also as examples and role models for the rest of the band.

Junior Viet Phan says, “We set the example and are often first impression that people get of the Spartan Marching Band. We try and be good role models not only to our peers, but to our audience as well.” Junior Ian Poage adds, “We pride ourselves on the effort and enthusiasm we bring to rehearsal, in addition to our pristine musicianship and marching technique.”

The Trombones emphasize how close they are as a section and recognize that they couldn’t be the successful section that they are, without the constant support, friendship, and family atmosphere they’ve cultivated. Sophomore Eiryn Hodges says, “Being a Spartan Trombone is like getting to be a member of a 36-person family who understand and care for you like you wouldn’t believe. For how big our section is, we are incredibly close.”

Senior Devon Davidson adds, “when I came into the section I was very nervous because I didn’t know anyone or anything about the university. But from day one, I felt accepted and we all became a family.” Not only are the Trombones close during rehearsal, many of them live together, and often go out to dinner on a regular basis. Senior Mikey Werth says, “We are always doing yearly events together and it makes for such a close bond between everyone. I feel like it’s what makes the section so tight. We have a history of always being close and it shows on the field with the way we play and march together.”

The family atmosphere has contributed to many of the Trombone Traditions. One of these is the dance to Earth, Wind, and Fire’s September – a dance that is now spread throughout the band whenever this famous song is played. Trombone Section Leader Troy Anderson says that “No current bones know the origin of this dance, but this tradition will never fade.” They also have a yearly “Bonesgiving” holiday event, and they always perform their rendition of “Low Rider” on Adams field every Gameday.

Perhaps the most beloved tradition is the “Triad” – a group of three trombones and one announcer that perform for the band while they stretch and prepare for their Gameday morning rehearsal. Triad member Ian Poage says that they play “songs that are relevant to the upcoming football game, news, or MSU events.” He adds that the songs are often arranged by students, and “the announcer, usually a trombonist with an especially ‘velvety voice,’ stands at very top of the scaffolding and cracks jokes through the band’s speaker system.”

But while the Trombones are deeply rooted in traditions, this year they decided to bring in something new to the SMB – four Bass Trombones. The Bass Trombone adds more depth to the ensemble and strengthens the low brass sound. One might even say they help lead the low brass sound. Ian Poage says, “As a bass bone, I can attest to the fact that these instruments and their players provide a certain power to the low-brass sound. Oftentimes doubling the tuba part, the bass bones create a low, edgy sound that really cuts through the ensemble.”

Troy Anderson says that, “As a true victim of the bass trombone sound, I stand right in front of them during concert arcs. The four bass bones consistently create a wall of sound behind me. I find it hard to keep my balance when their sound keeps pushing me forward. That’s how you know they’re doing their job correctly.”

As one of the loudest, most dominating sections of the Spartan Marching Band, the trombones are constantly finding ways to push each other, work harder, and become a better family. They have the be the ones the pave the way down the street into the tunnel and onto the field. Mikey Werth says, “There is nothing like marching into Spartan Stadium with nothing in front of you. All eyes are on you, all that is heard are the cheers; and without a doubt, it’s the best adrenaline rush you’ll ever get – and the Bones are fortunate enough to be able to have the honor of leading.”

Meet the Band: Baritones

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By Kim O’Connell

Remember when you were a kid? Well, part of you still is. And that’s why the Spartan Baritones play “Faygo”. You’ll hear the current members of the Spartan Baritones play the iconic Pop theme song every game day during their warm-up on Adams Field. This year, the tradition is in its 42nd year.

Before MSU was sponsored by Pepsi, beverages in the stadium were supplied by Faygo. Beginning in 1976, the baritone section periodically played the “Faygo Boat Song” for the student section in between third and fourth quarter. The song was written by two baritone section members, Matt and Andy James. The student section and band both loved the tune, and it was adapted into a marching band halftime show played by the entire Spartan Marching Band. In the early 2000’s, Faygo was no longer served within the stadium, but the Spartan Baritones continue to play the tune to the present day.

Being a long-time tradition in the Spartan Baritones, it is also well-known by alumni of the Spartan Baritones. This is one of the reasons alumni band week is important to the Spartan Baritones. As part of recent tradition, the current section members and alumni come together after the game to play “Faygo” during Alumni Band week. Two versions of the song have been written for the baritone section. The older section members play along with the younger members in the original arrangement of “Faygo”. A more recent version of “Faygo” is played afterward.

Faygo is more than just a song or beverage for the Spartan Baritones. It’s one of the things that makes alumni week special for them. The shared connection is why current members look forward to alumni band each year. It brings everyone together from all generations from within the band.

“Alumni band week reminds me that I’m part of an organization that existed and thrived long before I got to MSU and will continue to do so long after I leave. We’re part of a long green line” says Mark Elinski, a senior Chemical Engineering Major from Troy, MI.

“I always look forward to alumni band week. It’s a great way to reconnect with alumni I’ve met in previous years, see people I’ve been in the band with, and meet new people,” says Ryan Malburg, a Music Education major from Wixom, MI. “Every year, I am fortunate enough to connect with someone and learn a lot about the band and our origins.”

Evan Blanchard, a senior Physics major from Okemos, MI, says “Sometimes that’s the only time alumni come back to MSU. The connections you made here never go away. All the friendships you made carry on for the rest of your life.”

Meet the Band: Tenor Saxophones – Make an Impression

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by Ilene Gould

Many members of the SMB can pinpoint the moment they decided they wanted to march at Michigan State. Whether they had parents in the band, an influential high school director, friends in the band, or a general love for the art, everyone has their own story about how they earned a spot in the Spartan Marching Band. For many though, the community involvement of the SMB is what showed them more about the college band experience. While most bystanders only experience the “normal Gameday routine” of the SMB, there is so much more to their story than football. Fifth year Tenor Saxophone Section Leader Alex Klingel says, “we are a bigger part of the community than just musicians at a football game, and that makes being a member of the SMB even more special.”

While the Tenor Saxes try not to take themselves too seriously, they do try to make the most of their college band experience. They shared with us how the SMB has made an impression on the community and how they believe it’s made an impact on those around them.

Dr. Thornton loves using the phrase, “make an impression,” to inspire members of the SMB – especially before a big run through of pregame or halftime. Senior Squad Leader Aryka Thomson says, “he is reminding us that what we do makes an impact on other people’s lives. We want that first note to sound powerful and beautiful, our uniform to be clean and worn with pride. The goal is to show our talent and the results of our hard work inspire others to do the same.” The SMB spends hours upon hours every week perfecting their shows, and it’s all to help make an impact on at least one person in the audience. “It’s important to understand that Dr. Thornton is talking to the band as a whole when he says ‘make an impression’ not just individuals,” says Junior Squad Leader John Hindenach. “During a performance it’s very hard for a single member to make an impact, but if everyone gives their all then we can make an impact and I think that’s very powerful.”

Senior, Sven Adriaens says, “everything we do should be treated as though it is affecting at least one other person even if we don’t directly receive praise in that moment. I didn’t make the band my freshman year, and every day I could hear them practicing from my room in Wonders. I would go to practices from time to time, and walk to class in a way that would take me past the practice field. I was initially unsure if I wanted to do college band, but after hearing the SMB, even only in a rehearsal capacity, those doubts disappeared.”

For many years now, the SMB has performed as the exhibition ensemble at the Grand Ledge Invitational, an event where several high school band students get to experience an ensemble of the caliber like the SMB for the very first time. Junior Ashley Hare says, “it’s great to be able to show them what we do, and often times people in their high school band will then set higher expectations for themselves and continue on with the music career.”
Sophomore Dan Schneider follows with, “They look up to us like we are a big brother or a mentor. They see what we are doing and they are blown away. Many students at the Grand Ledge competition are moved in such a way that it shapes their undergraduate career, whether that be joining the SMB tor even pursuing music here at MSU.” The Grand Ledge Invitational is often the epitome of finding a way to “make an impression” on an individual.

However, being in the SMB doesn’t just mean making a musical impression on someone, it’s also about finding ways to make a physical impression on the community. For the past 16 years, the Spartan Marching Band has worked in conjunction with mid-Michigan Sports Broadcaster Tim Staudt, and the Sparrow Children’s Hospital to host the “SMB For Kids” event, in which the SMB puts on a two-three hour benefit concert to help raise money for the hospital and for the SMB. Since its inception, the event has raised over a half a million dollars each for the Sparrow Children’s Hospital and for the SMB. Ashley Hare says that it’s an event that she looks forward to every year, and one of her favorite memories from her time in the SMB.

However, it isn’t just the big events that help make an impact in the community. Every week the SMB has extra gigs and performances that are outside of their normal commitments. Almost every Friday before a home football game, members go to the Spartan Hall of Fame Café and play rah-rah tunes and other pep band music for guests at the restaurant. On Gameday, there are several traveling groups that go around to different tailgates and play “Bandograms” for excited Spartan fans. The tenor saxes are particularly excited about gigs and extra opportunities to play. Section leader Alex Klingel says that “every opportunity that we get to venture outside of the band is an experience. There’s always a story to tell afterwards.”

Gigs are also a way to go out and interact the Spartan community in a way you normally wouldn’t get to. Klingel says, “we don’t get a lot of interaction with fans, and when you’re out in a gig with a smaller group physically interacting with fans, you might get to see someone you know or strike up a conversation with someone new. It’s a heartwarming experience.” He also recalls visiting an Iowa tailgate tent a few years ago, and said they were able to play their fight song for them. “We got an opportunity to play for random strangers, and being able to bond with the Iowa fans as well as Spartans is a really cool experience.” But in closing, and in true tenor saxophone fashion he says, “I love gigs, gigs are great.”

The Tenor Saxes are constantly trying to find ways to reach out to the community and stay in touch with their alumni. Every year they hold a fundraiser to help purchase their tenor saxophone apparel for the new members. Any parents, friends, or alumni that donate receive a couple of recorded post-cards throughout the season as well as a few photos of the section thanking them for helping out. Throughout this process the Tenors are able to build a better relationship with their alumni while supporting their new members. The Tenors recognize the importance of giving back to the community after all of the support given to them and the SMB, they love any opportunity to make music for other people.

Every Gameday the Tenors play “Ditty,” – their own rendition of “Scotland the Brave.” They circle around alumni, fans, and anyone else that they can “corral,” play the tune, and eventually add their own dance moves as the song progresses. This tradition began in the 1990’s when some of the Tenors played “Scotland the Brave” to ironically poke fun of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. For Halloween of 1998, many of the Tenors dressed up as the Irish Guard, and the following season this “Ditty” became a Gameday tradition.

The Tenor Saxes are constantly finding ways to give back and help support the community around them. Everything the Tenors do, encompass much of what the entire SMB stands for. Whether it’s making an impression on an eager high school bando, a Children’s Hospital, Spartan and Visiting Fans alike, or an athletic team, there is so much more to the SMB than Pregame and Halftime. Senior Aryka Thompson says, “The community looks to us as a symbol of pride for MSU. When we wear a band jacket, people associate us with hard work, passion, respect, and love for our school. Holding up those expectations by performing for and interacting with the community perpetuates this feeling of pride and shows the value of hard work.”

Meet the Band: Mellos

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by Ilene Gould

The band is standing in the tunnel anxiously waiting to burst out on the field for their pregame performance. There’s 37 minutes left on the clock before game time. SMB director Dr. David Thornton steps up to the ladder, raises his arms, and says, “Let’s sing.”

Instruments are placed on the ground or stuck between legs; arms are lifted over each other and the band begins to hum the opening E flat of Shadows. The band sings in beautiful four-part harmony, coming together in this moment to “sing our love for Alma Mater.” On the word “love,” Dr. Thornton places his hand on his heart, whether on purpose or by accident, and smiles at the band.

It’s a humbling experience for those of the SMB to stand in a place where so many have come before them, but the Gameday Experience is surrounded by little moments like this. It’s a routine that never gets old.

While every section experiences Saturdays in East Lansing a little differently, we talked to the Mellophones about these little moments and what makes Gameday so memorable to them.

Senior Mellophone Nathan Doss, says that on his very first Gameday he remembers “walking across a dead quiet Adams field, a faint haze over the grass, with the sun barely starting to rise. The energy in the air was spine chilling. It was almost as if Adams field itself was trembling with anticipation.”

This anticipation is often called the “Christmas Eve Syndrome” – the inability to wait another moment. Junior Mellophone Section Leader Joey Essenburg says, “You know whenever you’re on vacation and you have something super exciting the next day so you wake up at 5am to get ready for it? That’s what Gamedays are like for the Mellos.”

On these early morning Gamedays, the Mellophone squad leaders bring treats and snacks for their squad, while waiting on the sidewalk to watch the color guard and drumline march “the series” from Dem Hall to the Practice Field. With cell phones out to record these moments, everyone is cheering, smiling, and laughing, forgetting for just a moment that it’s 6:30 in the morning.

Doss says, “the Gameday experience as a Mellophone is the ultimate team experience.” It’s about making sure everyone is there for each other, supporting each other every step of the way. To demonstrate their teamwork, every Gameday on Adams Field, the Mellos make one long line, reach over each other’s instruments, and play Pregame Fight while fingering the tune on the instrument to their left.

But perhaps the most poignant moment for the Mellos on Gameday, is shortly after they play Pregame Fight during their warmup. They get into two circles with the squad leaders in the middle, kneeling down on the grass. Squad Leaders hold hands and pass around a kiss on the back of each hand, and then the section leader says, “inside to the right, outside to the left.” The squad leaders stand, wrap their arms around each other and they all begin the infamous Mello chant.

“Spartan Mellos, brass playing war machines, trained to fight, trained to kill, trained to die, but never will.” This is repeated three times as the section sways and jumps back and forth gaining in intensity each time. Senior Bailey Barry says that “the words inspire strength and power- two qualities that are essential for everything that follows.”

This chant is something that’s gone on so long, no one is really sure anymore as to where it started, but it represents something much larger than just the chant itself. Freshman Madeline Steffke says that “the Mello chant is about our dedication to the band and to each other. It means that we are ready and willing to sacrifice it all for the group, but we will never surrender in the face of a challenge.” Essenburg follows with, “when you are a Spartan Mello you are a part of something much greater than yourself. You have the opportunity to be an amazing force within the ensemble.”

The energy from the Mello chant carries through the section onto the full band warm-up, through “the series,” and into the tunnel. As the clock reads 25 minutes, the band runs into the tunnel to line up, and the chaos begins to ensue. People are cheering and shouting, hyping each other up for the iconic kick step into pregame.

Doss says that “the tunnel is the most electric environment that I have ever experienced. Adrenaline is flowing so fast that you don’t know whether to laugh, cry, scream, or maybe do a combination of the three. There isn’t any one emotion that can describe it, but I like to think of it as riding the line between anxiety and crippling excitement. It’s my favorite place to be in the whole world.

Senior Mel MacLachlan says that “everyone is pumped up and ready to get out on the field to show everyone what we are made of. We are such a hard working ensemble and it feels so good to show everyone that our hard work pays off!” At 19 minutes, the drum-line begins the cadence, and the Spartan Marching Band kicksteps out of the tunnel into a sea of 75,000 fans.

Gameday isn’t just about the performances for the fans, it’s about the little moments and the little traditions throughout each section and throughout the band that make this day special. Whether it’s singing Shadows in the tunnel, warming up on Adams field, or watching the guard and drumline march over, throughout all of this, there is one thing present – the sense of family. Singing Shadows and looking around the ensemble seeing not only friends, but seeing family is what makes Gamedays so special. MacLachlan says, “Game days are hard work but at the end of the day, it’s worth it. All the support from friends, family, and fans is overwhelming. I am very thankful.”

Meet the Band: Alto Saxophones

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by Ilene Gould

The Spartan Marching Band rehearses every afternoon from 4:30 to 6:00, in preparation for Gameday, with extra practice on Monday nights from 7-9 and sectionals from 4-4:30 on Wednesdays and Fridays That’s 10.5 hours of rehearsal a week – plus the 6:30 am call time for a noon football game. Many people ask not only how band members balance SMB commitments with school, classes, extra-curricular activities, a social life, and occasionally some food and sleep, but why they do it.

While many would say “time management” or “keeping a planner,” others say it’s much more than that.

Members of the alto saxophone section helped us answer these questions

It starts with the incoming freshmen class. They come from all walks of life with various backgrounds, experiences, and degrees of skill; but amongst their differences, everyone has one thing in common: They know almost no one in this 50,000-member university.

Junior alto saxophone squad leader and Las Vegas native Eric Jenceleski said, “Coming from out of state I quite literally had no one upon my arrival at MSU. Being in the Spartan Marching Band instantly provides you with a 300-person support group.”

Freshman alto Matt VanLinder said, “members go out of their way to make you feel accepted, which means the world to me. No part of the band is left out, there is a culture of acceptance and inclusiveness that is extremely hard to find. The family that I’ve started my college career with is already one that I’ll never forget.”

Family. The word is used often to describe the culture within the band. While many of its members are far from home without a biological family nearby, band members have found ways to choose their own families, to create their own home, and create a support system for themselves.

Freshman alto Ashton Jordan said that all throughout her life she struggled to find a great group of friends in which she could trust and talk openly to, but found something quite different within the SMB. She said that members of the SMB “will listen to whatever you have to say and support you with whatever. Need a friend? You’ve got 300. Need someone to talk to? You’ve got 300 to choose from. It’s so relieving to know that I have true friends and that I’ll have wherever I go for the rest of my life.”

It didn’t take long for Jordan to realize that the entire band is there to support her. Whether it’s a band jacket from years ago, or a bright and shiny new one, band members realize that this family is generations long. People in the SMB are connected for nearly a hundred and fifty years. Senior alto saxophone section leader Andrew Acciaioli says, “From the first day you enter the band, you are gifted with hearing hundreds of stories. You learn about the incredible traditions and the people who made this organization as one-of-a-kind as it truly is.”

“I haven’t met a single band member, past or present, who hasn’t been inspired by these stories, and that inspiration is what drives us to preserve and build upon the great legacy that we are so privileged to be participants of,” Acciaioli said.

It’s also traditions like the “Hoolah Cup,” an eight-year-long rivalry game of kickball played between the Altos and the Baritones (Hooahs), and traditions like the “Absolute Mayhem” chant, as well as referring to themselves as the “Otlas” (altos backwards), that help keep the alto saxes feeling connected to their alumni throughout various generations of the SMB.

So when asked, “Why are you in the SMB?” or “How do you manage your time?” It has nothing to do with checking an item off of a list. Junior alto saxophone section leader Lisa Lachowski says, “For me, it comes down to this: mastering our art, and engaging in the community established through that art. Not everyone gets to experience music like this. . . not only is the music itself great, but it’s also accompanied by innovative drill and physically challenging technique. Add onto that a group of passionate people that care so deeply for one another. That’s the environment the SMB and its alumni create.” It’s section and squad leaders like Lachowski, Acciaoli, and Jenceleski that have truly helped continue the family culture not just within their own section, but throughout the entire ensemble.

The second verse of the MSU alma mater is often associated with leaving MSU and saying goodbye. It says, “When from these scenes we wander, and twilight shadows fade, our mem’ry still will linger, where light and shadows played.” We often think of a shadow as a remnant left behind, a piece of a memory, a moment in time. Being in the SMB is about leaving behind a legacy, or leaving behind a shadow for future generations to come. Despite all of the hard work, and the long hours each member dedicates to this ensemble– it never feels like work to them. Because at 4:30, the members of the SMB know they get to come home to their family at the end of each and every day.

Meet the Band: Trumpets

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By Ilene Gould

As the army of trumpets charge down the field, you can hear the four part harmonies of the “Eef, Beef, Deuce, and Roosk” also known as the E Flat Cornet, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd parts of the trumpet section. They are the musical leaders of the ensemble and the fiercest of fighters in the Spartan Marching Band.

A family of 60, the Trumpets are often joined at the hip. Junior Section Leader Jake Bronson says that “despite the size of our section, we spend so much time together that we really consider each other family.” Even if it means that “we have to claim an entire section of the cafeteria in order to sit together.” And if that wasn’t enough, every year after picture day, the entire section always goes to Cracker Barrel, nearly taking over the entire restaurant.

Rooted in pride for not just for their section, but for the entire history of the SMB, every Gameday the trumpets play the Michigan State College Alma Mater during their warm-up, a song not traditionally played anymore with the full ensemble. But before they can reach the ever-awaited Gameday, there’s an immense amount of hard work and dedication throughout the 12 days of preseason.

With 22 freshmen this year, over a third of the section, the leadership has not only stressed the importance of family, but the importance of building a “foundation” early on in the season. Bronson says, “everything we do during preseason is building for the rest of the season, whether it’s building skills and fundamentals for marching and playing, or learning the traditions and building the relationships that allow us to perform with such pride and passion at every game.”

With all of the hard work from Preseason culminating at Freshman Dress, the final rite of passage into the SMB, Freshman Joel Burns says that “it’s a time where freshmen are pushed to their limits,” and that it’s a time “to show the upperclassmen and squad leaders that we can do this on our own.” Junior Peter DeRoche says, “It’s such an awesome thing for the freshman to experience. I know I’ll never forget that night, and I can safely say I’m not alone in that statement.”

Preseason is so much about learning what it means to be a member of the SMB, embracing Spartan pride, and learning about the ensemble’s history and long-standing traditions. Bronson says, that his favorite memory from preseason was hearing the freshmen sing shadows after their first night of learning the series, the infamous SMB March to the Stadium. “We were all pretty exhausted and sweaty, but hearing them sing after putting in all that work together really filled me up with pride, and I got serious chills during the swell on ‘sing our love for alma mater.’”

The Spartan Marching Band is so deeply rooted in traditions and history, and the Trumpets will forever be charging down the field, as an army of sixty, but a family of one.

Photo credit- Kim O’Connell

Meet the Band: Dr. Arris Golden, Associate Director

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Dr. Arris Golden – Assistant Director of Bands
Associate Director, Spartan Marching Band


I am excited about the shows that we have planned for the group, but I am even more excited to work with the students and staff of the SMB!


Two parts actually. The camaraderie and community that exists within the SMB as well as the traditions that make the SMB the group it is.


The opportunity to be involved with a total band program that is progressive, that is on the cutting edge both artistically and musically. Also, the opportunity to work within the MSU College of Music, was not an opportunity I could refuse.


I am very much looking forward to creating new musical arrangements for the SMB and Spartan Brass. I am also looking forward to working with Dr. Thornton and the rest of our instructional staff in creating presentations that are both exciting and innovative.


Get involved and get to know people ASAP! The SMB is filled with amazing people from all around the MSU campus. Getting to know them means that you are not just a member of the SMB, you are also a member of the Spartan family.