University of Minnesota Marching Band

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Minnesota Marching Band
School University of Minnesota
Location Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
Conference Big Ten
Founded 1892
Director Betsy McCann
Members 320
Fight song

"Minnesota Rouser"

"Minnesota March", "Minnesota Fight", "Our Minnesota", "Go Gopher Victory", and "Hail! Minnesota"
Uniform Maroon, Gold, and White.
Maroon jacket and pants, white and gold overlays, white braids, gold wings, white hats with gold plumes, gloves and spats, black shoes

The University of Minnesota Marching Band (also known as UMMB, The Pride of Minnesota[1]) is the marching band of the University of Minnesota. The band performs before, during, and after all home Golden Gopher football games and bowl games, occasional away games, local parades, numerous pepfests[2] and events associated with the University of Minnesota, as well as a series of indoor concerts at the end of the regular football season.[2] Members of the band, along with non-member students, also participate in smaller athletic pep bands that perform at other major sporting events, including men's hockey, men's basketball, women's hockey, women's basketball, volleyball, and track and field.[3] Here is a link to the Intro Video for the Pride of Minnesota.

The Pride of Minnesota gathers on the field after 4th quarter for their post-game performance.
The University of Minnesota Marching Band performing at their 2015 indoor concert


The University of Minnesota Marching Band was formed with 29 members as the University Cadet Band in 1892.

The band performed its first halftime field show during the 1910 football season. Among the formations included was the "Block M" that now serves as the University's logo. The "Block M" formation is still present in the band's pregame show.

Near the end of World War I in 1918, the University Cadet Band was merged with the local Army band in order to form First Regiment of Minnesota Band, in addition to a second, more briefly existing Second Regiment of Minnesota Band. However, both bands were decommissioned along with the Regiment at the conclusion of the war. Following the war, university students who were members of the band were offered a position in a separate University Band, with the word "cadet" having been dropped from its name.

The University of Minnesota Marching Band was founded in 1892 as the University Cadet Band.

In 1961, marching band director Dr. Frank Bencriscutto decided that, in addition to performing at football games, the band should also put on an indoor concert at which the band would be the sole performers, instead of taking a role secondary to that of the football team. This was the first concert of its kind; many other collegiate marching bands have adopted this practice since. The Indoor Concert has been continuously performed at the University of Minnesota's Northrop Auditorium since its creation.[4]

Women in the Band[edit]

When it was originally formed, the band consisted of exclusively males. Women were first allowed to perform with the band in 1943-1945, when they were allowed to "fill in" for male members of the band that were serving in World War II. In 1950, a "Women's division" of the band was created, which lasted for several years. Women were finally allowed to be full members of the band in 1972. Molly Watters was selected in 2006 as the first female Drum Major in the history of the band. In July 2016, Betsy McCann was named the director of the band, becoming the first female director in the history of the band, and of all marching bands in the Big Ten Conference.[5]

Marching Style[edit]

The Pride of Minnesota during their pre-game performance.
The University of Minnesota Marching Band performing at the Class of 2019 convocation ceremony.

The Minnesota Marching Band primarily uses the traditional "chair step" for performances, similar to other bands of the Big Ten Conference. The band's pregame show is performed almost entirely with this type of step. It consists of bringing the leg up so that the thigh is parallel to the ground and the shin is completely vertical and toes are pointed at the ground. The band is the only Big 10 marching band to do this chair step throughout almost all of its pregame show. Halftime shows are performed using a corps-style low step marching that allows for more musicality and forms that do not necessarily conform to a grid. "Run-Cadence" is the band's method of getting on and off the field for a show. It consists of a double-time chair step, although the quicker pace of it necessitates that at times neither foot is in contact with the ground, as with the regular chair step.



In its 124-year history, the band has had 19 directors, some of which held the position at multiple points throughout the band's lifetime. The first director of the band at its inception was Neville Staughton, the director of the Winona community band at the time. However, Gerald R. Prescott, who was granted a professorship at the university music department in 1932, was the first full-time faculty director of the marching band. The sixth director of the band, Michael Jalma, is credited with writing the lyrics to accompany John Philip Sousa's Minnesota March, one of the university's popular school songs.[6] One of the most notable directors in the history of the band is Dr. Frank Bencriscutto, who was responsible for initiating many of the band's current traditions, such as the annual indoor concerts, as well as arranging many of the works currently used by the marching band, including the current arrangement of the Minnesota Rouser.[7]

The current director of the University of Minnesota Marching Band is Professor Betsy McCann, who graduated from the University of Minnesota and holds a graduate degree from Northwestern University. She was named director of the band in 2016 after the previous director, Timothy Diem, stepped down following sixteen years with the band. McCann, having formerly acted as the Assistant Director of the marching band, currently serves as the both the Director of Marching and Athletic Bands as well as the Assistant Director of Bands at the University of Minnesota.[5] A previous director of the marching band, Jerry Luckhardt, who had previously served as the director of the Michigan Marching Band, now serves as the Interim Director of Bands at the University of Minnesota, and remains as an important faculty member in the marching band.[8]

Following are those who have held the position of director of the band:

  • Betsy McCann (2016–Present)
  • Timothy Diem (2005–2015)
  • Jerry Luckhardt (1997–2004)
  • Eric A Becher (1991–1996)
  • Barry E. Kopetz (1986–1990)
  • O'Neill Sanford (1976–1985)
  • Frank Bencriscutto (1960-1976, 1985 - 1986)
  • Gale Sperry (1957-1960)
  • Merton Urgaard (1945-1946)
  • Daniel Martino (1943-1945)
  • Gerald R. Prescott (1932-1943, 1946-1950, 1951-1957)
  • William A. Abbott (1931-1932)
  • Michael Jalma (1920-1931)
  • Karl Scheurer (1920-1931)
  • J. Arthur Lampe (1918-1919)
  • B. A. Rose (1898-1918)
  • Charles W. Graves (1894-1898)
  • Neville Staughton (1892-1894)
Drum Majors
Years Name
2015–present Robert Rudin
2014 Joe Walsh
2011–13 Brandon Folkes
2008–10 Aaron Marks
2006–07 Molly Watters
2005 Dick Osterberg
2004 John Thompson
2002–03 Jon Tepe
2001 Todd Olin
1998–2000 Andy Richter
1996–97 Alec Charais
1995 J. Drew Kunkel
1993–94 Chad Saloka
1992 Aaron Fisher
1987–91 Kirk Juergens
1985–86 Ed Long
1983–84 Jeff Thomas
1981-82 Dan Kuch
1978-80 Grant Benjamin
1977 Pat Patton
1975-76 Jim Krikava
1974 Charles Buck
1971-73 Bryan Warren
1967 Bill Ekstrum
1966-70 Jim Mitchell
1961-65 Richard Johnson
1958-60 M. William Johnson
1954-57 Don Elsen
1949-53 Jim Wetherbee
1947-48 Robert Thompson
1945-47 John N. Smith
1944 Albert Burns
1943 John Gruye
1942 Jerry Benson

Drum Major[edit]

The University of Minnesota Marching Band has a single drum major. The current drum major of the marching band is Robert Rudin.[9] In its history, the University of Minnesota Marching Band has had 62 drum majors, some holding the position as long as five seasons. The drum major is considered the leading member of the band, and acts as both an instructor and a performer. The responsibilities of the drum major include marching and mace-twirling performances on the field during pregame and halftime shows, conducting the band in the stands during football games, leading parades, and acting as a leader during training. Similarly to the position at other Big Ten schools, the drum major is best known for the execution of the popular "back bend" during field shows, where he/she takes off the drum major hat and bends backwards until his/her head touches the ground, while the rest of the band marches by.[10]

Block Captain[edit]

The marching band has one block captain, who is considered the second in command to the drum major, and serves as a backup to the drum major. Like the drum major, the position is a leadership and instructional position. The current block captain of the University of Minnesota Marching Band is Emily Daniel.[11]

Feature Twirler[edit]

Like other Big Ten marching bands, the University of Minnesota has a section of baton twirlers. The twirlers of the University of Minnesota Marching Band consist of one Feature Twirler, traditionally accompanied by two other twirlers: the Maroon Twirler and the Gold Twirler. The position of Feature Twirler is competitive, and therefore involves a rigorous audition process. The twirlers of the band are responsible for marching both on the field during pregame and halftime shows, and in parades. The Feature Twirler, accompanied by the other twirlers, performs dynamic baton routines that involve a variety of turns and catches, toss illusions, baton work, and occasional use of fire batons.[12]


The Pride of Minnesota consists of 320 members, and has a complete marching band instrumentation consisting of the following: flutes, piccolos,[13] clarinets,[14] alto saxophones, tenor saxophones, trumpets,[15] mellophones,[16] trombones,[17] baritones,[18] tubas, drumline,[19] and color guard.[20]


The marching band practices in El Paso, Texas before the 1999 Sun Bowl.

Spat Camp[edit]

Training for the University of Minnesota Marching Band begins annually with "Spat Camp," a ten-day training, conditioning, and preparation period in late August where both new and returning members learn, relearn, and practice marching fundamentals, music, and drill. During Spat Camp, marching band members stay in university residence halls, rehearse at TCF Bank Stadium, and participate in the first round of auditions for the pregame show block.[21] Each day of the ten-day period lasts up to 13 hours, and consists of music rehearsals, marching practice, choreography, and instrument sectionals. The camp ends with the band's performance at the Minnesota State Fair parade on the Sunday before Labor Day. The name "Spat Camp" was derived from the nature of the training period as a musical equivalent to a military boot camp, however instead referring to the spats worn by marchers instead of boots.[22]


During the regular fall semester academic season, the marching band holds two-hour rehearsals on Monday through Thursday evenings at TCF Bank Stadium. On weekends of home football games, the band also rehearses on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. The rehearsal schedule of the band is designed to avoid conflict with most university classes. The three smaller athletic pep bands associated with the marching band hold rehearsals once per week in the late evenings after the regular marching band rehearsal.[21]

Pregame Show[edit]

The University of Minnesota Marching Band performs one of the longest and most complex pregame shows of any band in the country. In its entirety, it is roughly 17 minutes long and includes over 75 pages of drill, the majority of which is performed using Big Ten High Step style marching. There are 244 marching spots in the pregame block, out of the 320 total marching spots within the band. Periodically throughout the season, band members audition for a spot in the pregame block. The remaining members are responsible for managing the 40 by 25 yard ceremonial American Flag used during the National Anthem.[21] The pregame show in its current configuration consists of the following:[23]

Entry, Run-Cadence, and Fanfare[edit]

The band enters the field beginning with the tuba section, drumline, drum major, and twirlers, which march onto the field to a drum cadence while the band chants "er du klar?", the Norwegian phrase for "are you ready?". After those sections are in position, the announcer introduces both the band and the Gopher Spirit Squad, and the band enters and forms lines via "Run-Cadence," a fast paced double-time high step cadence. The band proceeds to expand into a block formation while playing "Fanfare '87", as the announcer introduces the director, drum major, and twirlers.

Minnesota March[edit]

After the fanfare, the band marches down the field in the large block formation while playing John Phillip Sousa's Minnesota March, led by the drum major and a line of marchers carrying flags representing each Big Ten university. As the band marches bounded by the color guard on each side, the drum major stops mid-field and executes the signature back bend. After centering on the fifty yard line, the band finishes Minnesota March while transitioning into a diamond-shaped block in the center of the field.

Gopher Spell-Out[edit]

Beginning in the diamond shaped block and transitioning to a rectangular block at the center of the field, the band plays either the school song Go Gopher Victory when facing non-conference opponents, or the school song of an opposing Big Ten university. While either chanting during Go Gopher Victory or after playing the opposing team's school song, the band transitions to form the word "GOPHERS" spelled out across the field, before returning to the previous rectangular block formation.

The Swinging Gates[edit]

From the previous rectangular block formation, the drumline, followed by the band, begins playing The Battle Hymn of the Republic while creating a series of eight parallel lines, or "gates", spread sequentially down the length of the field, facing the student section of the stadium.[24] As the song is played, the honor guard, led by the color guard and followed by the drum major, marches toward the student section down the center of the field as the band begins to "swing" open each gate by splitting each line of marchers into four pivoting sections. As the honor guard proceeds down the field, each of the eight gates closes behind them until the honor guard is positioned in front of the student section and the final fanfare of the song is played.

The University of Minnesota Marching Band marching the Block M down the field during their pregame show.

Forming of the Block M[edit]

After the Swinging Gates, the band returns to the rectangular block mid-field and begins the "Cascade Sequence", in which the band performs a complex routine in order to transition into a compressed "Block M" formation. As the compressed block is created, the announcer yells "ARE YOU READY?", at which point the band begins to expand the compressed block both vertically and horizontally while playing "Fanfare '78 - Pageant", until forming the full "Block M", which serves as the logo of the university and the centerpiece of the pregame show. While in the Block M formation, the Minnesota Rouser is played for the first time. As the word "Minnesota" is spelled out during the cheer following the Rouser, the band kneels and removes their hats, returning to stand as the cheer finishes.

Rotation and Marching of the Block M[edit]

Following the playing of the Minnesota Rouser, the Block M is rotated ninety degrees counterclockwise to face the student section, while the announcer re-introduces the director, drum major, and twirlers, and introduces the block captain and assistant directors. This is the only significant portion of the pregame show where the traditional high-step marching is not used. After the Block M has been rotated, the band resumes the use of high-step and marches the Block M down the field toward the student section while playing Our Minnesota.

Gauntlet, National Anthem, and Exit[edit]

At the end of the playing of Our Minnesota, the Block M is dispersed as the band transitions to a "gauntlet" formation in order to prepare for the entrance of mascot Goldy Gopher and the Gopher football team. As Goldy enters the stadium wearing a cape on a motorized scooter, the band plays a modified version of the theme from Superman. After the arrival of Goldy, and the stadium-wide Ski-U-Mah cheer, the band plays the Minnesota Rouser for a second time as the football team runs onto the field. After the team is on the field, the band members who are not part of the pregame block unroll a large ceremonial American Flag on the field as the band, remaining in the gauntlet formation, plays the Star-Spangled Banner. Following the National Anthem, the band exits the field via "Run Cadence".

Athletic Pep Bands[edit]

Members of the University of Minnesota Marching Band, along with non-member students, may audition and participate in the three associated athletic pep bands for the University of Minnesota: the Maroon Band, Gold Band, and Gopher Band. The athletic bands are taken by students as a university course for credit, share marching band rehearsal space at TCF Bank Stadium, and hold rehearsals weekly in the evenings after marching band rehearsal. The bands each perform at roughly 25 regular season athletic events over the course of each year, along with several post-season events during conference and NCAA tournaments. Each university pep band is associated primarily with one or more specific Gopher sports teams, and thus play primarily at games for the respective team(s).[25]

Maroon Band[edit]

The University of Minnesota Maroon Pep Band is primarily responsible for playing at Gopher men's hockey games at Mariucci Arena, though also playing occasionally at events for other university athletic teams. The band leads cheers and traditions along with the student section or "Ice Box" at Gopher men's hockey games,[26] and is notable for its tradition of leading a parade-style march or "march-around," followed by a crowd of fans, around the full concourse of Mariucci Arena prior to the start of hockey games, while playing Minnesota March and ending with the Minnesota Rouser.[27]

Gold Band[edit]

The University of Minnesota Gold Pep Band is primarily responsible for playing at Gopher men's basketball games at Williams Arena, nicknamed "The Barn," though also playing occasionally at events for other university athletic teams. The band leads cheers and traditions with the "Barnyard" student section at Gopher men's basketball games.[28]

Gopher Band[edit]

The University of Minnesota Gopher Pep Band is primarily responsible for playing at Gopher women's hockey games at Ridder Arena, women's basketball games at Williams Arena, and women's volleyball games at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion. Participation in the Gopher Pep Band is a prerequisite for participation in either the Maroon or Gold pep bands.


  1. ^ "Minnesota Marching Band". University of Minnesota Music Department. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  2. ^ a b "2007 Schedule". University of Minnesota Music Department. 
  3. ^ "Athletic Pep Bands". University of Minnesota Music Department. 
  4. ^ "History & Traditions | School of Music : University of Minnesota". Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  5. ^ a b ebauer (2016-07-13). "School of Music names director of marching and athletic bands". Retrieved 2016-07-24. 
  6. ^ "Minnesota March | School of Music : University of Minnesota". Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  7. ^ "Sights & Sounds | School of Music : University of Minnesota". Retrieved 2016-07-25. 
  8. ^ "Directors | School of Music : University of Minnesota". Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  9. ^ "Drum Major Robert Rudin | School of Music : University of Minnesota". Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  10. ^ "Minnesota Golden Gophers drum major brings the band onto... 5675509 - StamfordAdvocate". Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  11. ^ "Staff & Sections | School of Music : University of Minnesota". Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  12. ^ "University of Minnesota 2016 Feature Twirler Auditions | School of Music : University of Minnesota". Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
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  21. ^ a b c "About | School of Music : University of Minnesota". Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  22. ^ "Ski-U-Mah with Spat Camp". Minnesota Daily. 2014-09-04. Retrieved 2016-03-14. 
  23. ^ "UMN Marching Band Pregame - 9/3/15 vs. TCU". Retrieved 2016-04-22. 
  24. ^ "Big Ten game-day traditions: Minnesota". Retrieved 2016-04-22. 
  25. ^ "Athletic Pep Bands". Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  26. ^ "The Ice Box, Men's Hockey Spirit Section". Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  27. ^ "Minnesota Golden Gopher Pep Band". Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  28. ^ "The Barnyard, Men's Basketball Spirit Section". Retrieved 2016-04-29. 

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