Marching Jayhawks

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University of Kansas Marching Jayhawks
KU Marching Jayhawks Banner.png
School University of Kansas
Location Lawrence, Kansas
Conference Big 12
Founded 1887 (1887)
Director Dr. Matthew O. Smith
Assistant Director Sharon Toulouse
Members 270 (2011)

White Shako with White Plume, blue jacket with a red and white Jayhawk chest-plate on the front, short red KU cape, blue slacks, and white shoes.

Alternate Uniforms: Red chest-plate with Kansas Sash (alternate chest-plate) Traditional Senior Night Uniform (alternate chest-plate

Red and White Kansas Cape (worn with any chest-plate)
Website Marching Jayhawks Page

The University of Kansas Marching Band, known to fans as "The Marching Jayhawks", is an 270 piece marching band consisting of woodwinds, brass, percussion, and colorguard. The band performs at all home football games and occasionally travels to away games. They also send smaller ensembles to pep rallies around the Kansas City area. The band marches in parades on campus and in downtown Lawrence. The volleyball and basketball pep bands play at all home games and will often travel for post-season play. The band was awarded the Sudler Trophy in 1989.


Marching Jayhawk Logo

Joseph C. McCanles[edit]

The first evidence of a band at the University of Kansas was in 1887 when a student, Stuart O. Henry, organized a 12-piece military band. This group apparently did not receive much support since it did not survive the summer. There were student-led bands over the years that performed in concerts as well as at athletic events.[1]

The first band uniforms were acquired in 1906, and in 1907, Joseph C. McCanles became the first faculty director. He served until 1933 when Russell L. Wiley became Director of Bands. The band grew and flourished under his leadership. Wiley retired as Director of Bands in 1968 and was succeeded first by Kenneth Bloomquist, and then by George Boberg. Robert E. Foster became Director of Bands in 1971, a position he held for 31 years. In 2002, he was succeeded by John P. Lynch. Following Lynch’s departure, Scott Weiss served as Director of Bands from 2006 to 2010. Paul W. Popiel was named the seventh Director of Bands in KU history beginning in the fall of 2010.[1]

Marching Band, c. 1890[edit]

In 1967, an outstanding musician from Oklahoma came to KU. James Barnes, currently division director of the music theory and music composition department, came as a freshman tuba player and composition major, beginning a rich association with the KU Bands that continues to this day. In 1975 Thomas Stidham came to KU from a position as Assistant Director of Bands at Baylor University. Matthew Smith joined the band faculty as the Director of Athletic Bands in the fall of 2011, succeeding David Clemmer.[1]

There have been significant changes in the band program during the past 25 years. The Marching Jayhawks and men's basketball band have gained a position of national prominence, and there are now three concert bands both semesters. Current initiatives include the KU commissioning projects, Naxos recordings, and the high school Prairie Wind Festival.[1]

Concert Band, c. 1910[edit]

The KU Marching Band marched down Campanile Hill to Memorial Stadium for the first time in the fall of 1971, an important pre-game tradition to this day. The Kansas state song, Home on the Range, was first performed by the Marching Band in 1971, and soon became a permanent part of the Marching Band repertoire.[1]

Women became a regular part of the Marching Band in the fall of 1972, the same year that the beautiful new silver sousaphones, the first in the Big Eight Conference, were introduced in Memorial Stadium.[1]

In 1989 the KU Marching Band became only the seventh band ever to be awarded the Sudler Trophy, the highest honor available to college marching bands. In 1994 the Marching Jayhawks were listed as one of the top ten college marching bands by Sports Illustrated.[1]

The KU jazz program began when Robert Foster started the first "official" jazz ensemble in the spring of 1972. Since then, it has become one of the outstanding jazz programs in the nation. Under the leadership of Dan Gailey, it includes three big bands, two jazz choirs, numerous combos, and hosts the KU Jazz Festival, one of the nation's largest jazz events.[1]

Marching Band, c. 1912[edit]

The Symphonic Band (now called the “Wind Ensemble”) appeared at the Music Educators National Association convention in Colorado Springs in 1979 and Miami in 1980, and in subsequent years at conventions in Indianapolis, Chicago, and Kansas City. The Wind Ensemble has also performed at the prestigious American Bandmasters Association convention in Kansas City in 1983, in Oklahoma City in 1985, and in Lawrence in 1995. The band has also been selected to perform at three conventions of the College Band Directors National Association, as well as a tour of China in 2006.[1]

There are over 400 students involved in the various programs in the KU Bands, playing in 11 different ensembles. They represent the University in over 125 performances each school year beginning during Hawk Week before the first classes have met, and concluding with the last selection during Commencement, marking the end of the academic year.[1]

Directors of Bands[edit]

  • 1907-1933: Joseph C. McCanles[2]
  • 1933-1968: Russell L. Wiley[2]
  • 1968-1970: Kenneth Bloomquist[2]
  • 1970-1971: Interim George Boberg[2]
  • 1971-2002: Robert E. Foster[2]
  • 2002-2007: John P. Lynch[2]
  • 2007-Spring 2010: Scott Weiss[2]
  • Fall 2010–present: Paul W. Popiel[2]

Directors of Athletic Bands[edit]

  • 2003-2006: James Hudson
  • 2007-2011: David Clemmer
  • 2011–present: Matthew O. Smith

The Songs of the University of Kansas[edit]

Pre-Game and other Shows[edit]

At home football games, the Marching Jayhawks perform both an opening pregame show and a halftime show that changes throughout the season. The pregame program beings with the members of the band sprinting down the stairs of the northern bowl of Memorial Stadium. The band runs onto the field to a cadence by the drum line. Here the official fight song of KU "I'm a Jayhawk" is played. The "Kansas Song" is then played as the Marching Jayhawks perform their historic KU counter march. "Fighting Jayhawk" is played after the counter march. The band is then joined by a group of the Rock Chalk Dancers, KU's dance team, for the historic "Sunflower Song" and accompanying drill. The band then performs the National Anthem, KU alma matter and the Rock Chalk Chant. Many of the elements and formations of the pregame have been present for decades.

Halftime shows differ from game to game. Most halftime shows often include popular music or commemorate events such as September 11 or Veteran's Day. The formations for these shows are more free-form than the regimented pregame show. They are also shorter, consisting of three songs or medleys.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Marching Jayhawks History". School of Music. Retrieved 27 October 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "History - Band". School of Music. Archived from the original on 20 June 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 

External links[edit]