Michigan Pep Band?

Submitted by jcgold on September 9th, 2010 at 8:17 PM

I'm watching Auburn - Miss. St., and of course, Auburn has sent its band, although not the full band, just the pep band.  I did a little research and it seems that All teams in the SEC, and several teams in the Big 12 (i.e. Texas) send a band to every game, although most road games are attended by the pep band only.  

Why don't we have a pep band?  If we did have a pep band, when did it exist?  I know that there are some ex-band guys who could shed light on this (i.e. Bando).

It would not surprise me if this topic has come up before, so if there is already an existing thread, link it here and I'll ask the admins to bring this one down if they feel it necessary.




September 9th, 2010 at 8:32 PM ^

Recent MMB Alum here.  This is my understanding:

1) While our band is well-funded relative to most college bands, we run a fairly tight ship and the money is not there to send an ensemble to most away games.  Back in the day when we went on bowl trips, the number of members that were allowed to go was meticulously calculated based on what the bowl would pay UM and what the athletic department could give us.  Technically, the MMB is not a part of the athletic department, but is part of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

2) The reason why it seems like every other band always comes to Michigan Stadium is because bands will make the trip for big games.  Playing Michigan, even in our "rebuilding years" is still a marquee game on the schedule, so they will make that trip.  We would always travel to ND, MSU, and OSU.

3) Scheduling.  We have either 7-8 home games a year, and we usually travel to 1-2 away games.  That leaves only a couple open weekends, one of which is usually Band-O-Rama at Hill Auditorium.  I don't know how I got my schoolwork done.  That being said, I wouldn't have minded traveling to a couple more away stadiums during my time in the MMB.

Go Blue!

Bando Calrissian

September 9th, 2010 at 8:33 PM ^

Bando Bat-signal received!

More of a financial thing than anything else.  Pep bands cost money.  Bands don't have a lot of it to go around.  In my time, attempts were made on several large informal band away trips to do pep bands, because we were there anyway, but opposing schools have to approve it, the MMB is wary of non-official, smaller group deals (worried about uneven instrumentation, liability, us doing something stupid, etc.)...  There are also Big 10 rules against instruments in the stands if they're not part of an official pep band, so it can't be done except through the proper channels.  Bottom line, it's a bit of a pain both financially and logistically, and they'd rather get donors to pay for things that go for the entire band than to pay to send a pep band to Iowa.

Also, off-weekends are a bit of a luxury for band folks.  They like giving us some time off every now and then, especially when one off weekend a season is devoted to the Band-O-Rama concert.  7 or 8 home games a year, one or two away trips, Band-O-Rama...  It's a full season.

There is a smaller pep band-type group, the Fanfare Band, that does smaller gigs the full band can't/doesn't go to.  Things like birthday parties for rich alums, public appearances, AD events, the occasional non-revenue sporting event, things like that.  The only real thing they do on football Saturdays are the small groups that go around the stadium.


September 9th, 2010 at 8:54 PM ^

I'd be all for our band to travel, but being it so big and so great I doubt other teams would want us stealing their bands thunder each time we're on the road. 


September 9th, 2010 at 9:24 PM ^

Another recent band alumnus here. Part of having an off-weekend is being able to go to that away game and experience Michigan football as a fan. I've been to Northwestern and Indiana, and both were excellent trips. Wearing a T-shirt instead of a uniform is nice sometimes.

Away trips are logistical nightmares. For you other band folk, I was on E-Staff, so I know exactly what goes into it. Especially the ND trip, which is a 5-hour drive and a one-day trip (leave Revelli at the crack of dawn, come back after sunset). Lots of fun, but lots of work.


September 9th, 2010 at 9:45 PM ^

that the band sections have some pretty interesting newsletters that are put together for away game trips...


just sayin'....


September 9th, 2010 at 11:49 PM ^

Well, for the last 21 years I've known anything about the band, staff has always (probably correctly) found the need to ban one thing or another and the members of the band have always found something new with which to replace it.

New traditions have to start somewhere...


September 9th, 2010 at 9:48 PM ^

Another band alum here (though from a few years earlier...)

The MMB is in pretty good financial shape, but does have lots of hard choices to make.  Incremental money in recent years has gone toward things like upgrading Revelli hall, replacing all the instruments, and replacing uniforms.  The instruments and uniforms are like painting the Golden Gate Bridge: by the time you're done, you need to start again.

Also, the Elbel (booster) club does sponsor a number of scholarships and has worked to endow assistant director positions.

I'm no longer familiar with any of the rules, but like so many parts of college football, the rules for the Big 10 are often different than the rules for other conferences.  For years and years the size of the band "block" (the performers on the field) was determined by the number of people the conference would let the athletic department pay to take to bowl games.  Believe it or not, way back when (20 years ago when I was in band) there was a cap on total non-team participants -- Band, cheerleaders, etc.  The MMB would have to ask the School of Music for some of the money necessary for the trip.

Regardless, if you'd like to make a donation large enough to sponsor a pep band going to a particular game, I'm sure the MMB would gladly accept it!!!  


September 10th, 2010 at 10:20 AM ^

From a little over 20 years ago - we generally only went to MSU, ND and OSU.  Though for some reason, we also were sponsored to go to Toronto to play halftime of a college game there (non-UM - U of Toronto and York U, I think).  I believe there was some relationship between UM and the founders of the Roots athletic wear company that must have paid for the trip for the entire band, not just the performing block. 

We also managed to put together a pep band to head out to Hawaii for our first game against the Rainbows.  A group of around 40 or so players - rank leaders and seniors (or both) - raised money independently from hometown alumni to pay for the trip.  We were sanctioned by the university, though it had already engaged a Honolulu high school band to play.  They were pretty psyched to play with us on the field, though it was a bit of an odd hodge podge.  An excellent trip, though, and still fondly remembered...


September 10th, 2010 at 10:02 AM ^

the Victors playing from somewhere at all road games, don't I?  Is this my imagination, am I a humming it to myself?  We don't have a pep band?  Where does the fight song come from in games aside from OSU, MSU, and ND?

Bando Calrissian

September 10th, 2010 at 10:26 AM ^

The only band I know of that plays the Victors in the stands is Wisconsin.  Their tradition, because they quite literally have not had a visiting band in over twenty years, is to play the opposing team's fight song after their first score.

Other than that...  Unlikely.