Michigan State University


In 1870, when MSU was still the Michigan Agricultural College (MAC), a group of civil war veterans returning to MSU founded a 10-piece brass band. Although the band is no longer all-brass, the only woodwind used is the saxophone.

In 1885, with the establishment of a permanent military department at the college, the band became a Cadet Corps and received its first military-style uniform. Through the early 1950’s, the band grew as it remained under the direction of the ROTC program. When MSU began playing Big 10 Conference football in 1952, the band broke from ROTC and sported its very first green and white uniforms. Despite giving up the official ROTC military uniform, strict military uniform codes are still adhered to with uniform inspections before every performance.

In 1960, Assistant Director William Moffit introduced his distinct “Patterns in Motion,” where the formations on the field represented constantly-changing kaleidoscopic patterns.  This “Patterns in Motion” marching style was unique to the Spartan Marching Band at the time when the band also introduced the “Spinning Block ‘S,’” a current pre-game staple.

Today, the Spartan Marching Band is made up of 300 members, including a feature twirler, the Spartan Color Guard and the prominent Big Ten Flag Corps, where members each carry a flag from a different Big Ten school.

Used by the Spartan Marching Band for marching in parades, “The Series” refers to seven different percussion cadences played together, or ‘in series.’  During each cadence, a different section of the band will perform a unique choreographed set of maneuvers, such as horn flourishes, accompanied by all sorts of intense, intimidating vocal cheers.

On the field, the band is best known for their tradition of  “Spinning the Block ‘S.'” If you can’t catch the band during the game on a football Saturday, you can find them before the game doing their pre-game warm-ups on Adam’s Field or see the drumline pump up the crowds along Grand River Avenue.

Watch MSU PBS Station WKAR Series “Beneath the Pines”, 7 episodes covering the Spartan Marching Band 2011 season.