Northwestern University Wildcat Marching Band

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Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band
NU seal.jpg
School Northwestern University
Location Evanston, Illinois
Conference Big Ten
Founded 1911
Director Daniel J. Farris
Members 118
Fight song "Go U Northwestern"
Uniform The uniform features a predominantly black background with the Northwestern University colors represented in a non-reversible triangular drape and a white sculpted N across the chest. A modified West Point shako, high white plume, white gloves and spats complete the uniform.

The Northwestern University Wildcat Marching Band (NUMB) is the marching band of Northwestern University. NUMB provides pre-game, halftime, and postgame field performances at all home football games while school is in session as well as performing in various pep bands and at "Wildcat Alley" before the game. Other NUMB performances include special homecoming performances, any post-season football games, and one Big Ten away game per season.


The Early Years (1911-1952)[edit]

In 1911, Northwestern's first University-sanctioned marching band was organized to play at football games. Under student leadership, their numbers varied before they were put under the supervision of the School of Music in 1926.[1]

Under the leadership of their first full-time director, Glenn Cliffe Bainum, they garnered fame for Bainum's innovative half-time drills. In the early 1940s, with Bainum serving in the military, Harold Finch took over as band director until 1945, when the band was disbanded due to lack of personnel. Bainum restarted the marching band program in 1947 and continued as director until falling ill in 1950.

The Paynter Years (1953-1995)[edit]

The Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band performs the Alma Mater at the 1996 Rose Bowl under the direction of John P. Paynter.

John P. Paynter became acting director of bands in 1950-1951 while working on his master's degree and then in 1953, became the official director. During the next forty-three years of his leadership, NUMB developed most of the traditions and culture it still has today. Among the accomplishments during his tenure were NUMB's incorporation of women in the 1970s, and the band's innovative use of drill charts to develop marching shows.

In 1970, James Sudduth became the first person (other than Paynter) to hold the title of marching band director. In the years that followed, several others held the position, including Cliff Colnot, William Hochkeppel, Donald Casey and Don Owens. In 1983, the position of the director of the marching band was shifted to the Athletic Department, and Dale Lonis became the first director of athletic bands. Under Lonis' leadership, the glide step was added to the halftime show style. Also during these years NUMB began forming the "Sculpted N" in its pregame performance following the university's adoption of a new logo.

Stephen G. Peterson took over leadership of the band in 1987. During his tenure, the band was awarded the 1992 Sudler Trophy in recognition of a tradition of excellence. When the football team won the Big Ten Championship in 1995 and went to the Rose Bowl, Paynter, Peterson and NUMB went too. NUMB's halftime show at the Rose Bowl consisted of opera favorites, including the Overture to William Tell. Paynter died on February 4, 1996, just more than a month after conducting the band at the Rose Bowl. His Northwestern life was magically bookended by the school's only two Rose Bowl appearances (he was an NU marching band member in 1949).[2]

Recent History (1996-present)[edit]

The Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band forms the "Sculpted N" and performs "Go U Northwestern!" to close its pregame performance at the 2005 Sun Bowl under the direction of Mr. Daniel J. Farris.

In 1996, Mallory Thompson was hired to fill the Director of Bands position left vacant by Paynter's passing. That season the team went to the Capital One Bowl (then called the Florida Citrus Bowl), and NUMB featured the Northwestern Percussion Ensemble in its performance of Malagueña. Peterson departed following the 1996 season, and was replaced by Rodney Dorsey, who served through 1999. Daniel J. Farris became director of athletic bands and director of NUMB in 2000. Recent performances included field shows at the 2000 Alamo Bowl, the 2005 Sun Bowl, the 2008 Alamo Bowl, the 2010 Outback Bowl, the 2011 Ticket City Bowl, the 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas and the 2013 Gator Bowl.

Instrumentation includes about 98 wind instruments, 17 percussion, and three drum majors.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Northwestern University Wildcat Marching Band". Official web site. October 31, 2006. Retrieved July 2, 2011. 
  2. ^ Patty Dowd Schmitz (Fall 2000). "The Sound of Purple". Northwestern magazine. Retrieved July 2, 2011. 

External links[edit]