University of Wisconsin


Badger Band Traditions

The Badger Band began in 1885 when the former campus publication, the University Press, announced the “official authorization for the organization of the Wisconsin Regimental Band.” According to the University Press, Major Chase, the Military Battalion commandant on campus, strongly stressed in 1883 that there was a “need for a fife and drum corps to play for the Battalion drills.” The 1885 band consisted of 11 men. By 1894, the first official University Band was formed, consisting of 26 men who played at the football games.

Today, the band is made up of 26 ranks of over 300 members, led by a Head Drum Major & and Assistant Drum Major.

When the band wants to get your attention, you’ll hear loud and clear what’s called the ‘Skyrocket.’ “SSS…BOOM…AHH…WHISTLE!” was a greeting that dates back to the origin of the university and was originally used by students as a greeting to a favorite professor. Today, the band uses it to gain the attention of a crowd before a cheer or to tell a joke in unison.

On Fridays before a home game, head over to the practice field between 3:30pm-5:30pm, located at Walnut Street & Observatory Drive (the AstroTurf field along the bike path), to watch the band rehearse its Saturday pregame and half-time shows. Between 7am-8:30am on home game Saturdays, catch the band’s game-day rehearsal on the the practice field.

For a little personal insight on the band and its director, head over to the Humanities Building after the game for the traditional Badger Band “dismissal” ceremony. The band director recognizes the band for their hard work, reflects on the day and discusses what lies ahead for the band in the coming weeks.

Every 4th quarter, the tuba section weaves throughout the stadium playing “Beer Barrel Polka” and “On Wisconsin” for the fans.