School is in session, and so too has the football season begun. For many people that means the marching band is once again providing the soundtrack for the autumn season. That’s especially true here in Michigan, where we have two of the best marching bands in the land — the Michigan Marching Band in Ann Arbor, and the Spartan Marching Band in East Lansing.
We know it takes a full summer for coaches to get their football teams ready for the game, but what does it take to prepare a band of a couple hundred students? And what is it like to be in the band, watching the games as a fan, playing an instrument between downs, and traveling with the team?
Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson, who played tuba in the Michigan Marching Band, is joined by the new director of the Spartan Marching Band, David Thornton, and former Spartan drumline member — and Detroit Today associate producer — Gus Navarro, to talk about the hard work and lore of the marching band.
“I think our students would tell you that the work is worth the Saturday atmosphere,” says Thornton, who grew up playing clarinet and marching in the band at Florida State University as an undergraduate student.
Thornton teaches music at MSU and rose through the ranks to become director of the marching band after the retirement of longtime leader John Madden.
To hear more from Thornton, and to hear memories of being in the band from Henderson and Navarro, click on the audio player above.