Hawkeye Marching Band

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Hawkeye Marching Band
Iowa Hawkeyes wordmark.svg
School University of Iowa
Location Iowa City, Iowa
Conference Big Ten
Founded 1881 (1881)
Director Kevin Kastens
Members 250
Fight song "On Iowa", "Iowa Fight Song" and "Roll Along Iowa"
Iowa Marching Band Uniform.png
Website Hawkeye Marching Band Page

The Hawkeye Marching Band (or HMB) is the marching band for the University of Iowa. The band performs at all home Hawkeye football games at Kinnick Stadium. It is the largest and most visible musical ensemble at the university and was awarded the Louis Sudler Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy in 1990. The band was founded in 1881 as a military band, giving membership to both music students and members of the military[1]


The Hawkeye Marching Band was founded in 1881 in order to provide music for the State University of Iowa Battalion. During this time, members of the band would undergo the same training as their military counterparts. However, over the years, the military and band would gradually grow into separate entities. Because of this growing rift between the two organizations, the marching band became more of a form of entertainment than a military group by the year 1929, the same year that Kinnick Stadium was completed. The band became a part of the Fine Arts department in 1936.[2]

Around this time, when the distinction between the military and the marching band grew larger, the band began to perform for more public events, rather than the military gatherings of the past. The Iowa marching band, like other Big Ten bands, began to make appearances at concerts, University ceremonies, and football games. During the mid-twentieth century, the band adopted a very militaristic style of marching. Marchers were expected to march with crack precision and the band's director during that time, Frederick C. Ebbs, eliminated any flags or twirlers that the band had used up to that point.

In 1973, Morgan Jones became director of the Hawkeye Marching Band and once again changed the style and look of the band. Jones added a line of flag twirlers and six other twirlers to accompany the featured twirler. Jones also changed the style of music played. The band began to perform different styles of music, easygoing slow music and loud fast-paced music, as well as displaying both abstract formations and recognizable patterns on the field. The Hawkeye Marching Band was widely regarded as one of the few bands that effectively executed all of these things. After the 1990 season, the band was awarded the prestigious John Philip Sousa Foundation Sudler Trophy. The 1990 season and the Sudler Trophy would mark the end of the Morgan Jones era for the HMB. Jones' 18 year period as director was one of the most successful in the history of the Hawkeye Marching Band.

The band went through three different directors during the next few years and included a brief return by Morgan Jones during the mid-1990s. In the summer of 1998, the band found its next permanent director in Kevin Kastens, current HMB director and former director of the Marching Mizzou from the University of Missouri, as well as the Marching Hundred, from Indiana University.


The drumline and sousaphone sections prepare for the pregame show.


There are ten sections in the HMB: piccolos, clarinets, alto saxophones, tenor saxophones, trumpets, mellophones, trombones, baritones, sousaphones, and a drumline consisting of snare drums, tenor drums, bass drums, and cymbals.

Instrumental sections are led by a section leader, who is charged with teaching the required musical selections for a particular show; and an "undergrad staff" member, who is in charge of teaching marching fundamentals to the section during the band's training week known as "Hell Week".

The HMB uses a squad system when writing drills for both pregame and halftime. Squads are composed of four members of a particular section and are designated an alphabetical symbol in marching drills. Sometimes, squads can be composed of members of different sections. For example, one particular squad may be made up of two members of the trumpet section and two members of the trombone section.

Sometimes, members of a section are placed on "reserve" for a certain week. This is because the amount of spots in a particular drill may not have enough spots for every member of a section. HMB members who are placed on reserve fill vacant spots during rehearsals and may even be called upon to fill spots during performances if the original member is not able to attend. Members placed on reserve may also be called upon to aid the graduate staff members with equipment or other items during performances.

Drum Major[edit]

The drum major position is the highest rank that an undergraduate student can attain in the Hawkeye Marching Band. The drum major performs routines during both pregame and halftime shows and incorporates a mace during these routines. Students achieving the rank of drum major are also required to instruct the band during much of the training period at the beginning of a marching season. The current drum major is Isaac Anderson. A former Hawkeye drum major and University of Iowa alumnus, David Woodley, is currently director of the Marching Hundred of Indiana University.[1]

Golden Girl[edit]

Like many other collegiate marching bands, a featured baton twirler is used. In the HMB, this twirler is known as the "Golden Girl". The University of Iowa Golden Girl is one of only two full tuition scholarships available to the feature twirlers in the nation. Like the drum major, the Golden Girl performs choreographed routines during both pregame and halftime. Many of these routines are choreographed for both the drum major and Golden Girl performing with each other. The current Golden Girl is Whittney Seckar-Anderson.[3]

Former Golden Girls Linda Simon, Jayna Sanchez and Diana Reed represented Iowa, and Laurie Broderick represented Indiana, in the Miss America pageant; Jane Stemmerman represented Iowa in Distinguished Young Women. All utilized their baton skills in the talent competition. Former Golden Girl Nikki Meredith (now Crawford) was World Champion twirler in 1984 and won the 2011 Ms Fitness USA.

Section Leaders and Undergraduate Staff[edit]

Section leaders are undergraduate members of the HMB and are responsible for the musical performance of their respective sections. Section leaders conduct musical warm-ups at all rehearsals and before performances and instruct their sections on new musical selections.

Undergraduate staff members instruct HMB members in their section, both first-year and veteran members, on marching fundamentals and techniques. Both section leaders and undergraduate staffers may be called upon to serve as squad leaders after the conclusion of Hell Week.

Marching Style[edit]

The HMB employs a traditional Big Ten chair step marching style, where the upper leg is lifted parallel to the ground forming a 120 degree angle with the lower leg, and the foot is pointed to the ground. The band uses this traditional style during their pregame performance, parades, and lengthy drum cadence called "The Series". During the band's halftime performance, a more contemporary low-step style (glide step) is used, where the toe is pointed upwards and the heel is rolled along the ground.


The HMB performs at halftime.

The Hawkeye Marching Band performs at all Iowa Hawkeye home football games. The band also travels with the team to usually one away game per year and the team's post-season bowl game when the team plays in one. The band also travels to Ames, Iowa every other year when the Hawkeyes play the Iowa State Cyclones in the annual battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy.

The band also holds an indoor concert at Carver Hawkeye Arena (this concert was previously held in Hancher Auditorium but was moved due to the damage of Hancher Auditorium by the Flood of 2008) on the University of Iowa campus towards the end of the marching season. Along with other University musical groups, the HMB performs the traditional school songs like On Iowa, The Iowa Fight Song, and "Roll Along Iowa", and the different halftime selections from throughout the year.

Every third year, the band travels to Cedar Rapids, Iowa where seven local metropolitan Cedar Rapids high school bands, along with the HMB, hold an exhibition of their halftime shows at the Cedar Rapids Indoor Marching Classic. The Hawkeye Marching Band rotates every third year with the Iowa State University Cyclone Football 'Varsity' Marching Band and the University of Northern Iowa Panther Marching Band (debut performance for 2007 was October 22, 2007).


Following are those who have held the position of the director of the Hawkeye Marching Band:

  • 1911-1936 - O.E. Van Doren
  • 1937-1953 - Charles B. Righter
  • 1954-1966 - Frederick C. Ebbs
  • 1967 - Frank Piersolnote
  • 1968-1972 - Tom Davis
  • 1973-1990 - Morgan Jones
  • 1991-1992 - David Woodley
  • 1993-1995 - Dave Henning
  • 1996-1997 - Morgan Jones
  • 1998–Present - Kevin Kastens


Members participate in the annual Drill Down during Hell Week.
  • Hawkeye Victory Polka - The HMB plays their rendition of the song "In Heaven There Is No Beer" after every Hawkeye victory. The band alternates between the verses instrumentally and vocally, along with Hawkeye fans. The song was originally played many times during a game when it was first introduced in the 1960s. However, controversy arose concerning the song's lyrics. Critics of the song claimed that the tune promoted the abuse of alcohol and that it was an inappropriate song for the band to play. In 2001, the University of Iowa President completely banned the song from being played, either instrumentally or vocally. However, overwhelming support for the song prompted the President to bring the song back to Hawkeye athletic events. The song is now performed only after Hawkeye victories and on special occasions. The HMB does not circulate sheet music of the "Hawkeye Victory Polka" or teach incoming members how to play it. Members must learn the song by ear.[1] (The song is commonly known amongst band members and alumni as "The Beer Song".)
  • Hey Jude - Arranged by former HMB director Tom Davis, this popular Beatles classic was first played during a halftime show in 1968. The band then began to play the song during the break between the 3rd and 4th quarters. The band has played "Hey Jude" in this way ever since. The song is conducted by the band manager; starting it off with a loud "THREE! FOUR!" The song is played during the band's Rec Building Concert, post-game performances and other special events.[1]
  • "Sousy Bowl" - During the week of the Iowa/Iowa State rivalry game the sousaphone sections from both the Hawkeye Marching Band and the Iowa State University Marching Band come together for a game of full-contact football. This annual event is alternates sites depending on which university is hosting the rivalry game that Saturday.
  • "Vocal Alma Mater" - Unlike some other schools in the Big Ten, the Iowa Alma Mater is not played at football games, due to the length of the song and the complexity of the lyrics and melodies. For this reason the Alma Mater has been an 'unofficial trademark' of sorts for the HMB. They perform two versions of the Alma Mater, an instrumental ballad and a vocal version. The instrumental version is rarely played due to the popularity of the 4-part harmony vocal version. The band sings the vocal Alma Mater every week in the "tunnel" underneath Kinnick Stadium just before marching pre-game on the field. It is traditional that band members remove their marching shakos and/or hats, link arms and sway while performing the music. The band also sings the Alma Mater after the game is over and most fans have already cleared the stadium.
  • The Boom - "The Boom" has become a trademark of the Hawkeye Marching Band. Occurring immediately prior to the band's pregame routine at games, the band's announcer speaks through the stadium sound system "It's time to get ready for the boom!" Immediately following this announcement, the drum line's bass drum players all play a single count, creating a loud boom that echoes inside the stadium. The Boom signals the beginning of the pregame routine.
  • Rec Building Concert - Before every home football game, the HMB performs a brief concert inside the UI Recreation Building along with the Iowa Dance Team, cheerleaders, and the school mascot Herky. The band stands in concentric arcs and plays the common pregame fight songs as well as that week's halftime music. "The Series", the band's marching cadence, is also performed.
  • Drill Down - Towards the end of Hell Week, all members of the band participate in a competition known as the Drill Down. The band begins in a large block formation and the drum major calls out various commands. If a band member makes any sort of mistake during this competition, he/she is eliminated from the competition. It is common for the drum major to intentionally confuse band members in order to gauge their concentration and skill. The eliminations continue until only one member is left and crowned the winner.
  • Bones and Tones - The Rec Building Concert's opening act. Members of the baritone and trombone sections combine to entertain the concert crowd with different musical selections every game. The music for these performances is typically arranged for multi-part bones and tones by the members themselves. The small ensemble features particular cheers and tunes unique to the two low brass sections.
  • Saxamatone Kickball - During Hell Week, the baritone and saxophone, both alto and tenor, sections combine to play a game of kickball on the marching band's practice field. No other sections may participate in the competition, but the drum major and Golden Girl may participate as either players or as officials. In 2015, the saxophones came back in the bottom of the ninth from a five-point deficit and defeated the baritones 8-7. They are on a three year winning streak.
  • Trumpet-Trombone Annual Football Game - The Trumpets and Trombones play each other in a full contact football game either during the bye week or first away game Iowa plays. The game is played for the coveted trophy "Lefty." The trophy has a left athletic running shoe, a trumpet, and a trombone mouthpiece affixed on a wooden plank that is spray painted gold. Men and women of both sections are encouraged to participate as well as spectate the event. The rest of the band is also encouraged to spectate but barred from participating since the game is exclusively played by Trumpets and Trombones. The trumpets won the latest game 24-6 and currently led the series 3-0.
  • The Salt Block- The Salt Block was just that - a block of salt commonly used in cattle feeding - carried along on band trips and events by the Sousaphone section. The Salt Block was featured at nearly every Sousy skit at the yearly Band Extravaganza. Tradition was that the Salt Block would be held for one year, then passed to another member of the Sousaphone section for safekeeping. It is traditional that every Sousy licks the salt block, in order from the most experienced member to the newest.
  • From Dixie with Love - During Morgan Jones' tenure as director the band would typically close out the annual Band Extravaganza with Dr. Jones arrangement of "From Dixie with Love" a slow ballad utilizing the melody of the tune Dixie that crescendos into an uptempo song still with Dixie as the melody. This was often referenced as a farewell to the graduating seniors during the concert.


  1. ^ a b c d "Unknown Title". Archived from the original on October 5, 2006. 
  2. ^ Gerber, John (2005). A pictorial history of the University of Iowa. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. p. 188. ISBN 0877459339. 
  3. ^ "Golden Girl". University of Iowa Bands. n.d. 

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