Michigan Marching Band

Submitted by CRex on August 4th, 2010 at 10:43 AM

Edit: Misopogon's reply to the band members is likely even better, although buried on page two of the water bottle thread: #51

Alright, so in our water bottle thread yesterday we kind of veered off to bashing on the MMB a bit and the fact that Delaware State’s band pretty much destroyed them and some band members voiced their frustration over how the student section in general doesn’t give a shit about the band and expressed a desire for feedback.  I figured we could take a break from our daily “Who will start at QB”/who had bad work ethic thread to voice some constructive advice to the band.  Maybe give them something to take to the director and go “Look we have 20 pages of people saying we should play this song, can we play it?”

It’ll set myself up for abuse first with some general: 

First and foremost, if someone isn’t offended, you’re not doing your job.   We have some alums who took the entire “public ivy” thing a little too far and get offended if they hear anything that sounds like it might have been written post Fielding Yost era.  For example that jackass who was really vocal about how the luxury boxes would ruin everything.  The metric is not the angry letters you get post performance, but if you have 100,000 rocking during your performance.

Second, take the music sheets from that boy band show, all of them and any computer hard drives that might have that music on it and burn it.  5 gallon can of gas, matches and we’ll never speak of that again, alright?  Fair deal.  Seriously though, pop music is not we associate with football, with a few exceptions.  Things like Britney’s “3” kind of work because it has a heavy beat, but N’Sync?  Hell no.   

Third, think about who we celebrate in that stadium.  Woodley, Graham, Branch, Jackson, Shazor, Edwards, Hart, etc.  Players known for destroying opposing QBs, running over LBs, insane catches, etc.  If the song you’re playing doesn’t sound like something you could toss on a Brandon Graham highlight reel, consider picking a different song.  “Hail To The Victors” and “Lets Go Blue” hasvean edge, but you guys play them so much I’ll still  be hearing them 10 years after I die.  The Hawaiian War Chant, Temptation work best with muppets and Varsity makes me reflexively reach for my smart phone to go check scores.  I respect their traditional role, but I suggest the pre-game show for them.

Finally, just because their old people in the stadium doesn’t mean they’re all boring.  Penn State pumps in Zombie Nation and the entire place goes nuts.  Yes some people will resist change, but you can make modern stuff part of the game day experience.

Some specifics:

Rap music really lends itself to the big band conversion.   My high school band always did “Roll Out” by Ludacris when the team took the field and “I Like Big Butts” whenever a lineman made a good play.  “Act a Fool” when we had a breakaway play (“too fast, too furious for y’all”).  Personally I’d love to see the MSU band play its show and then as they’re walking off the field see the MMB come out playing “Move Bitch” by Luda.  That would get the student section rocking.   If you don’t tell people what you’re playing, the old folks won’t even know they should be offended.  Our band used to call their Ludacris show  “ A Series of Contemporary Pieces Inspired by Christopher Brian Bridges”  (CBB is Luda’s real name).  I’m betting you could get a decent show out of Timbaland (“The Moring After Dark” kind of fits in with what we hope this season will be, I’d think the horn section and drum section could do some amazing things with that song), Trick Daddy, T.I. and Pitbull also might be worth taking a look at.  All the student section really wants is a heavy beat we can use to get pumped up.   Notice how “Living On a Prayer” always gets us rocking.  

 Internet memes are on occasion fun.  You should learn “Party in the USA” for the PSU Game, even though it breaks the no pop rule: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N1o6JXRe4w (even  better if you can get that video on the jumbotron as you play it).  SNSD “Oh” would of course work for the Iowa game and if you have the dance team learn the moves it just gets better.  A lot of people read MGoBlog, so the younger crowd would get the reference and get excited.

That weird little drum cadence the band does between quarters needs to go away.  Where the cymbal players run around and some drum sticks get tossed.  Yes, I get it your coordinated, but it has no edge.  The only time I pay attention to it is if I’m bored and hoping someone gets conked on the head with a stick or hit with a cymbal.  If you’re going to do a little thing like that, have an edge or go play Varsity in front the alum section to keep the old people happy. 

End of the day, remember most of us in the stadium are some combination of drunk and dehydrated.  We’re living off adrenaline, give us a shot in the arm so we’re floating right on it when the 3rd quarter kicks off.  Complex harmonies from operas are completely wasted on those who are wasted.

Oh yes and more of that running around the stadium and playing in small groups.  That by far is the best thing you do.  Having the tuba guy walk up beside me and belt out a song always helps pump me up.  



August 4th, 2010 at 12:18 PM ^

as a MMB member, i'm, quite frankly, offended by the comments of DSU's band being better than us.  yes, they played a fun show, but they sounded like crap. i'm sure if all of us in the MMB blasted as loud as we possibly could on our instruments and sound like crap, we could be just as "good" as they were.  but as the MMB, we desire to put on GOOD performances that are MUSICAL performances. and, quite frankly, we're all trying as hard as we possibly can to play loud so everyone can hear us.

we work damn hard to make every show sounds good, is musical, and can try to please the musical tastes of everyone in the stadium [and, remember, we're a band that learns  a new show for every home game. so, you know, we have five days to learn a new show while also taking a full class schedule]


and if it makes any of you feel any better, this year the shows will be better.  boerma's choices for the shows this year is better than last years


August 4th, 2010 at 12:34 PM ^

Really only 7.5 hours.  Including warm-ups, pre-game rehearsal, and putting a new show on the field.  That only doubles on a road or bye week.

Any sections still waking up the president before gameday morning rehearsal?  There's nothing quite like M Fanfare and the Victors on the president's lawn at 7am. 


August 4th, 2010 at 2:47 PM ^

but i'm pretty sure that there is a portion of the audience that is requesting something that we have played. like i know opera wasn't popular, but i'm pretty sure some part of the audience might have requested us playing something more like that.


the audience does not equal the student section. we can't cater strictly to them. we do have people that donate generously to the band and we have to play music that caters to them


August 4th, 2010 at 2:04 PM ^

Whether or not DSU is "better" people are saying they preferred them.  That is telling.  It doesn't matter what makes you "better" than them if it's not what people want.  I don't think anyone goes to football games for a musical performance.

And really, the complaint isn't about the halftime shows.  It's the in-game music, and Boerma sucks compared to Nix.  Nix understood the MMB's role, and I'd give the band an assist for the Braylonfest comeback.  Boerma, not so much.


August 4th, 2010 at 2:13 PM ^

Agreed on the band in Braylonfest.  I was standing there, pissed off and freezing and the band cranks up.  I had trained reflex to start chanting along with Let's Go Blue, some of the players started jumping around a little.  A little later, touchdown, the band just goes insane and despite the fact a good 1/4 of the student section had already slunk out I the place went nuts and I could barely hear myself.   I miss those days.  


Also after we kicked a field goal in the first OT and the defense had to come out and keep Sparty out of the endzone, I remember the band keeping us cranked up that defensive series.


August 4th, 2010 at 2:44 PM ^

so, what, we don't go insane anymore? i'd like to point out we play our hearts out for the team. MSU this past year. i know we lost, but we were right on the sidelines. we were the when we went into overtime and we played our brains out.

and if i recall correctly, we're still playing let's go blue. have you decided to not chant along with us anymore?



like look, i'm not trying to make an argument with you. i'm not trying to bash your comments or anything because frankly, i know there's some truth. i do agree we should be playing more pump up music in the stands [i personally feel that although people do love let's go blue, we play it so much that people just kinda get bored of doing the chant]. but look, we're trying everything we can to get everyone involved. trust me, we've been trying. i think we're looking into possibly boosting the band's volume in the stands? (idk, boerma mentioned something in an email about that, but he never elaborated so i have no clue what he means)


August 4th, 2010 at 3:01 PM ^

The 03-05 bands were my gold standard for bands, it seems like the volume and excited they generated tailed off in the later years.  Part of that might have to do with the general level of excitement in the stadium.  We had strong teams those years, so the fans were in general more excited, which has to help.  

Since then it seems like the band got quieter and the music selection was less exciting, to me at least.   I remember when the band would start up, everyone would get on their feet and I would swear I could feel my fillings vibrating.  

One of my memories from the MSU 3 OT game was the coaching staff standing there, with their body language telegraphing "Oh shit" when the band director just started gesturing for "Let's Go Blue" and kept gesturing for the band to get louder and louder and started firing everyone back up.  Like ShockFX says, the band gets credit for that.  Half the coaching staff was just grimacing in pain and not trying to fire up the players when the band came through.  In more recent tight games (App State, Wisconsin two years again, etc) the band has just seemed flat.  This isn't to say the members of the band are bad, just that I've never seen that fire come out of the director in those games.  Half the time it just seems like the band is playing out of reflex, not out of passion.

Of course it's all been downhill since Revelli: 2.4 Revelli teaches “The Victors” to the football team


August 4th, 2010 at 3:37 PM ^

I am a member of the band as well and these are the same problems i've noticed from day one. Just because i'm in the band doesn't mean that i'm oblivious to what the purpose of the organization is: to ENTERTAIN the stadium. People don't go to the big house to see the band (i'm pretty sure of this fact) they go to see the team kick ass every weekend. 

Actually I agree with some of the OP's opinions on the matter but what really pisses me off is other band members get all hurt over someone's opinion, and that someone being a person whom they've never met. 

With that said, there are some new things being organized this year by the directors that let the band members have a bigger say in what is played (which as far as i know, hasn't been done before) I hate boerma (the head director)  but he is trying to listen to the masses. So i guess just sit tight MGoCommunity, things are starting to get planned out, very much like Rich Rod's Revenge Tour.


Again, if you are a band member, don't come to post just to bitch at the people who are bitching because you aren't helping either; try and read ALL of the comments and you'll see there are some level headed ideas and posters who aren't just saying "letz play RAWK music and mic the band up; the band sucks now yo!" 


p.s.- I am very much in favor of starting to put in more rap or r&b into the band's playlist, i was even pushing for a TI show (with autotune!)


August 4th, 2010 at 11:01 PM ^

i can't figure out if this was directed at my original post... but i wasn't posting just to bitch. i'm not ignoring the fact that we are there to entertain. but as you should know, we stress musicality in the band because we want don't want to be some other band. we want to be better than other bands that just blare loudly.

and plus, i was really posting to give some insight into some of the band member's thoughts. even if you dont agree


August 4th, 2010 at 12:30 PM ^

Sorry for your general discust of the MMB. I will now attempt to adress your concerns and maybe lead you into a little insight. Your main concern seems to be the music that the MMB plays. The reason we don't play "rap" music is that the image of the MMB does not want to be associated with the character of person that puts out a rap single. Also such songs can end up coming out sounding cheesey sas you may have heard last season in the Big House from visiting bands. Whether you like it or not the MMB and many other organizations on campus are mosly run thanks to the generocity of the boosters. Because of this it is our duty to play what they would want to hear such as Let's Go Blue. This is just the way it is, if you want to change it maybe we could put a big Dominoes Logo on the back of the uniform or implement the Bell Tire FIRST DOWN! since i get jealous everytime i hear that down the road. Maybe if you could participate in one of there rehersals. There are plenty of them as they practice an hour and a half a day during the school year ontop of some of the hardest academics in the country. Im sorry that all the old traditionals in pregame put you to sleep. Maybe you should realise how lucky the University is to have such a rich tradition. If you want maybe we'll just change the fight song to a something a little more current for you. We wouldn't want you to get bored.


August 4th, 2010 at 12:47 PM ^

The reason we don't play "rap" music is that the image of the MMB does not want to be associated with the character of person that puts out a rap single.

Right, and Ozzy Osbourne is a paragon of the type of character the MMB wants to associate itself with.

If it sounds cheezy, get a better arrangement or an arranger who actaully wants to make it sound good. It can be done.

If Haithcock and Boerma don't want to play music vocal fans want to listen to, then they shouldn't bitch about piped in music.


August 4th, 2010 at 12:57 PM ^

The rationale for the piped in music was that is what the team listens to during practice, so hearing it pumps them up and they requested it.   I feel like we kind of have a disconnect on the band's purpose.  The marching bands existed because they were entertaining (michigan Marching Band played multiple Super Bowl halftime shows) and they pumped the team/crowd.  If the team needs speakers to pump in music then something has gone wrong with the music selection.   


August 4th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

Your main concern seems to be the music that the MMB plays. The reason we don't play "rap" music is that the image of the MMB does not want to be associated with the character of person that puts out a rap single.

Get over yourself - you sound uneducated and closed-minded.


August 4th, 2010 at 1:32 PM ^

About 20 seconds which is perfect for stand tunes. We're not talking about a half time show here, we're talking about the dead time in between plays. Eight measures is all you need.

Here are a few to look up on youtube, they're basically already in MMB arrangements:

  • You don't Know - Jay -Z
  • All the way turned up - Rosco Dash
  • X Gon' Give it to ya - DMX

There are countless others. This is a matter of culture preference not of anthology.


August 4th, 2010 at 2:02 PM ^

Good point, maybe as a stands tune a few rap songs would work. The MMB does have TWO arrangements of Riding Dirty, each are about one line long and that is about as much as I can take before I'm bored.

Another idea is a medley of rap songs, just 10 to 20 seconds of each before they get old and then move on to another one. I think that is the only way you are going to see a rap halftime show.

03 Blue 07

August 4th, 2010 at 2:27 PM ^

Re: the alleged student/band member discussing rap and why it's not played:

Others have addressed your arguments better than I can, but. . . come on: You can't be a student at U of M and be this poor at spelling and grammar, can you? (unless English is your 2nd language and you're not in a major that requires any writing). Yikes. That was. . . hard to read. If you're going to be overly defensive and presumptuous re: the other posters' knowledge/lack of knowledge of the MMB's hard work, somewhat stereotypical, and possibly racist, at least do it with a little better grasp of the written word.


August 4th, 2010 at 12:40 PM ^

No one is faulting any one of the band players individually. I have had housemates that were band members and they put a lot of time and effort into the shows. Many of them spent hours and hours only to learn that they had been beat out for their position and wouldn't march on game day.

However, what is played, how it is played, what formations are marched, etc are not under the control of the band. It IS under the control of Boerma. If there is a change to be made, it should be there. Remember which way shit runs.....downhill.


August 4th, 2010 at 3:47 PM ^

Is that actually true though? Aren't all students basically guaranteed season tickets at student prices? If so, the band isn't replacing student section seats, it's displacing them. Unless there is a strict quota on student tickets, the number of full price vs. student price tickets has nothing to do with where the band sits.


August 4th, 2010 at 5:38 PM ^

I think it has more to do with the whole "standing up thing" The band would stand up most of the game and old farts behind them would get mad. (I remember getting yelled at a lot; "sit down I can't see!")

This was the athletic department's thought process:
"The band stands up a lot. Students stand the whole game. Let's put them in the same section."

The athletic department just put two and two together.

Bando Calrissian

August 7th, 2010 at 4:40 PM ^

That, and moving the MMB to the student section opened up that 500-seat block for seat-licensed season tickets.  I'd argue it was more about revenue than it was about the standing up issue.  After all, there was a reason why the AD put the MMB on the field for big games and sold the seats.


August 4th, 2010 at 12:53 PM ^

I had friends in band during my time in undergrad and they all worked their asses off.  Some of them for four years and never made it out to march for most of that time, yet they showed everyday to practice and worked their asses off.  Any problem doesn't come from the band members, it comes from the faculty/staff leadership.

Or those sponsored halftime shows.  Every time I hear "This show made possible with a gift from..."  I know some old person gave a lot of money to hear something they wanted.  Maybe the problem is the student section should sponsor a show...

Bando Calrissian

August 7th, 2010 at 4:42 PM ^

The person who donates the money for a show has zero input about what's played in that show.  They sell the sponsoring rights seasons in advance (a few years back they were already scheduled through 2010, if I'm recalling correctly).  Shows aren't decided until the summer before the season.  There's no connection there.


August 4th, 2010 at 1:05 PM ^

I was actually very excited that I was able to get tickets in section 44 for the Uconn game, across from the band!  You can't hear them well enough where I usually sit!  (South end zone!)


August 4th, 2010 at 1:16 PM ^

But I was in high school marching band for four years. Some observations I've made in the 25 years I've been listening to the MMB:

- Saxophone player speaking here: woodwinds should not be carrying the melody if you want people to get pumped up. Lots of brass and percussion please; the more the better.

- When conductors and directors of marching bands try to get too artsy with their repertoire, they lose the crowd. If the audience in a football game wants to hear "The Magic Flute", they'll go to see it at Hill Auditorium. A marching band is not a concert band standing on grass.

- Totally agree with the "no boy bands" point made earlier. On the other hand, the big bands from the '30s and '40s had some great tunes that would be ideal: Caravan, In the Mood, Take the 'A' Train, etc.

Anyway, my $0.02, (and with inflation, worth even less).