Blue Band

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Penn State Blue Band
SchoolThe Pennsylvania State University
LocationUniversity Park, Pennsylvania
ConferenceBig Ten
DirectorGregory Drane
Fight song"Fight On, State"

The Pennsylvania State University Marching Blue Band, known generally as the Blue Band, is the marching band of Pennsylvania State University. Founded in 1899, it is the largest recognized student organization at the University Park campus of Penn State, with over 300 active student members. The primary function of the Blue Band is to support the school's football team, performing for all home football games at Beaver Stadium.


The Blue Band during a halftime performance in Beaver Stadium.

The Blue Band is open to all students at the University Park Campus by competitive audition. The Blue Band accepts 290–315 student members annually. Returnees must re-audition for the band. All students who participate in the Blue Band are enrolled in a one-credit class – MUSIC 081 – and must remain a student in good standing with the university in order to maintain their eligibility with the band.[1]

The Blue Band has instrumentalists, Blue Band Silks (colorguard), Touch of Blue (majorettes), Uniform Managers, Student Operations Assistants, a drum major and a Blue Sapphire (featured baton twirler).


The Blue Band traces its history to 1899 with the formation of a six-member drum and bugle corps initiated by student George H. Deike. A donation from steel magnate and Penn State College Board of Trustees member Andrew Carnegie made possible the formation of a brass band in the summer of 1901.[2] By 1913, the organization was known as the College Band, and the first permanent director of bands, Wilfred O. "Tommy" Thompson, was appointed in 1914.

In 1923, a few new blue uniforms were purchased towards replacement of the old brown military-style uniforms in use. Blue uniforms were issued on the basis of ability and rank.

The Blue Band made its film debut in the 1977 made-for-TV movie Something for Joey. Appearing again in the 1993 feature film Rudy, they played "The Nittany Lion" in the movie.[citation needed]

In 2005, the Penn State Blue Band was honored with the Sudler Trophy.[citation needed]

O. Richard Bundy, director of athletic bands emeritus at Penn State
Penn State band directors (2015)

During succeeding eras in which Hummel (Hum) Fishburn (1939–1947), James W. Dunlop (1947–1975), Ned C. Deihl (1975–1996), O. Richard Bundy (1996–2015) served as directors,[3] the name Penn State Blue Band was kept even though all members were uniformed in blue. Since 2015, the director of the Blue Band has been Gregory Drane.


The Blue Band has appeared at 33 bowl games including multiple appearances in the Orange, Cotton, Sugar, Fiesta, Gator (now TaxSlayer), Rose and Citrus Bowls. The band has also performed at the Outback, Blockbuster, Holiday, Pinstripe, and Rose Bowls and for the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.[citation needed] The Blue Band marched in the Bicentennial Constitution Celebration Parade held in Philadelphia in 1987 and made its first appearance on January 2, 1995, in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.[citation needed]

The Blue Band performs many times throughout the school year. In addition to home football games, the entire band travels to one away game per season, and there is also a small 15-person pep band that travels to the other away games.

The band also has many other performances during the year including men's basketball, women's basketball, and volleyball games, and other various sporting events. Outside of the Blue Band's obligations as a pep band, the band has its own concert, traditionally known as "Band-o-rama", during which the band reprises the year's halftime music and fight songs.



Gregory Drane, Director of Athletic Bands at Penn State

Since July 2015, the Band has been led by its sixth director, Gregory Drane. Drane has served as the Assistant Director of the Blue Band since 2005, directing Athletic Pep Bands as well as founding the Penn State Volleyball Band. He has been part of the Blue Band staff since 2002, when he was a graduate assistant.

Director emeritus[edit]

From 1996 to 2015, the Blue Band was under the direction of O. Richard Bundy. Bundy received his undergraduate degree in music education from Penn State. After receiving a master's degree from the University of Michigan, he returned to Penn State for his doctoral degree (serving as assistant director under Ned C. Deihl from 1983 to 1996). On October 11, 2015, the Blue Band's practice facility was dedicated in Bundy's honor and renamed the O. Richard Bundy Blue Band Building.


The Blue Band is maintained in large part by student officers who are elected by the band at the end of the season for the next season.

Drum major[edit]

The Penn State Blue Band has one drum major who is chosen in the spring prior to each band camp. The drum major leads the band through warm-ups and fundamentals as well as instructing the band during rehearsals.


  1. ^ "Course Description: MUSIC 081". Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin. The Pennsylvania State University. December 15, 2006. Archived from the original on September 8, 2006. Retrieved December 22, 2006.
  2. ^ "Penn State News". Penn State News. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  3. ^ Range, Thomas (1999). The Penn State Blue Band: A Century of Pride and Precision. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-01960-3.

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