The University of Minnesota Marching Band (also known as The Pride of Minnesota) is the marching band of the University of Minnesota. The band performs before, during, and after all home Golden Gopher football games and bowl games, numerous pepfests and events associated with the University of Minnesota, as well as a series of indoor concerts at the end of the regular football season. Members of the band also participate in smaller athletic pep bands that perform at other major sporting events.
The Minnesota Marching Band was formed with 29 members as the University Cadet Band in 1892.
The band performed its first field show in 1910. Among the formations included was the "Block M" that now serves as the University's logo. The "Block M" formation is still present in the band's pregame show.
In 1961, marching band director Dr. Frank Bencriscutto decided that, in addition to performing at football games, the band should also put on an indoor concert at which the band would be the sole performers, instead of taking a role secondary to that of the football team. This was the first concert of its kind; many other collegiate marching bands have adopted this practice since. The Indoor Concert has been continuously performed at the University of Minnesota's Northrop Auditorium since its creation.
Women in the Band
When it was originally formed, the band consisted of exclusively males. Women were first allowed to perform with the band in 1943
, when they were allowed to "fill in" for male members of the band that were serving in World War II
. In 1950, a "Women's division" of the band was created, which lasted for several years. Women were finally allowed to be full members of the band in 1972
. Molly Watters was selected in 2006 as the first female Drum Major in the history of the band.
The Minnesota Marching Band primarily uses the traditional "chair step" for performances, similar to other bands of the Big Ten Conference
. The band's pregame show is performed almost entirely with this step. It consists of bringing the leg up so that the thigh is parallel to the ground and the shin is completely vertical and toes are pointed at the ground.
Parade marching is performed using a modified chair step known as "parade chair," which is far less tiring than a traditional chair step. It is similar to the chair step, but the thigh only comes up 45 degrees instead of the full 90. Many performers also use this for practices the day of a game in the interest of not tiring themselves out.
Halftime shows are performed using a corps-style low step marching that allows for more musicality and forms that do not necessarily conform to a grid.
"Run-Cadence" is the band's method of getting on and off the field for a show. It is essentially a double-time chair step, although the quickness of it necessitates that at times both feet are not in contact with the ground as with a regular march.
The Minnesota Marching band performs one of the longest and most complex pregame shows of any band in the country. In its entirety, it is over 15 minutes long and includes over 75 pages of drill. During the practice the Monday following a game, band members audition for a spot in the coming game's pregame show. There are approximately 250 marching spots in the pregame show.
The pregame show in its current configuration consists of the following:
- Run-Cadence on to the field in entry lines
- Expand the lines into a block formation to "Fanfare '87"
- March down the field to John Philip Sousa's "Minnesota March"
- Spell out "GOPHERS" while playing the opposing school's fight song or "Go Gopher Victory"
- Play "Battle Hymn of the Republic" while performing the "Swinging Gates" formation
- "Cascade/Fanfare/Pageant Sequence": March from the "Swinging Gates" to two columns in the middle of the field; expand the columns into the "Block M" formation
- Play the "Minnesota Rouser"
- Rotate the "Block M" formation toward the student section
- March the "Block M" downfield while playing "Our Minnesota"
- Cadence into the "Gauntlet" formation that the football team runs through out of the tunnel
- Compress the "Gauntlet" formation into a block while playing "God Bless America"; the B.A.R.F. (Big American Representational Flag) is also unfurled onto the field at this time
- Play the "Star Spangled Banner" from this block
- Run-Cadence off of the field