The Auburn University Marching Band (AUMB)
is the marching band
of Auburn University
and the 2004 recipient of the Sudler Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy
. With 375 members, the band traces its origins to 1897 when M. Thomas Fullan proposed to then-president Dr. William Broun that the drum corps
accompanying cadet drills be replaced with a full instrumental band.
The Auburn University Marching Band performs pre-game and half-time shows at all Auburn Tigers football home games and travels to most away games. (A smaller pep band composed of AUMB members supports the Auburn Tigers at all away games the full band does not attend.) The band has marched in three inaugural parades including for Presidents Harry S. Truman (1949), George H. W. Bush (1989), and George W. Bush (2005).
Unlike most college marching bands across the country, the Auburn University Marching Band does not have a nickname. It is the only band in the SEC that does not. Former Auburn University President Dr. Harry Philpott said the following about the band:
"Some other institutions need to give descriptive names to their bands in order to praise them. The quality of the music, the precision of its drills, and the fine image that it portrays have made it unnecessary for us to say more than, 'This is the Auburn University Band.'"
- The band was formed in 1897 under the first director, M. Thomas Fullan.
- In 1906 Albert L. Thomas became band director.
- P.R. "Bedie" Bidez became the third band director in 1916.
- In 1917, under Bidez, the band went to Europe along with allied forces as the 16th Infantry Regimental Band (The 16th Infantry Regiment was part of the larger 1st Expeditionary Force, which paraded through Paris, France on July 4, 1917).
- In 1945 Auburn's music department was formed.
- The band performed at Harry Truman's inauguration parade in 1949.
- Female majorettes were added in 1946.
- Women began playing instruments in the band in 1950.
- David A. Herbert became the fourth band director in 1951.
- Burton R. Leidner became band director in 1955.
- In 1955 "War Eagle" replaced the Auburn Victory March as Auburn's fight song.
- Dr. Wilbur "Bodie" Hinton became Band Director in 1956.
- Dr. Bill Walls became Band Director in 1969. (Director of Bands beginning 1985.)
- Dr. Johnnie B. Vinson took over as Director of Bands in 1991.
- The band was awarded the Sudler Trophy for continued excellence in marching. This award can only be given to a band once.
- Dr. Rick Good became Director of Bands in 2007 after serving as Marching Band director, and continues in this position today.
- Dr. Corey Spurlin was hired in 2007 as Marching Band Director under Dr. Good.
- In 2008, the Auburn University Marching Band made it's first overseas appearance, marching in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland.
Overseeing all the Auburn Bands is the Director of Bands. While the Director of Bands may not be present at every function the Auburn University Marching Band performs at, he is ultimately responsible for band. In 2007, Dr. Rick Good was promoted to the Director of Bands position. Dr. Good earned his Bachelors in Music Education at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania. He earned a Masters at Louisiana State University and his Doctorate at Arizona State University. Dr. Good spent 13 years as the Marching Band director and Associate Professor of Low Brass. Dr. Good took the position upon the retirement of the previous Director of Bands, Dr. Johnnie Vinson.
Directly overseeing the AUMB is the Marching Band Director, who is also the Associate Director of Bands. He leads all full-band rehearsals and performances. While many of the duties are delegated to his GTAs or student leaders, it is his responsibility to ensure the success of the band as a whole. Dr. Corey Spurlin was hired in 2007 as the Marching Band Director upon the promotion of Dr. Rick Good. Dr. Spurlin received his Undergraduate and Masters Degrees from the University of Alabama and his Doctorate from Louisiana State University in Conducting.
The Marching Band Director also has an Assistant, who assumes the duties of the Director in his absence. Typically, this Assistant Director also runs the percussion line, overseeing percussion rehearsals and performances. Dr. Doug Rosener has served as the Assistant Marching Band Director of the AUMB since 2005.
The AUMB also has many Graduate Teaching Assistants who work under the Directors and alongside the Drum Majors in running the band. In 2008, these GTAs were Ashley Gresko, Jeremy Logan, Allison Parker, Dustin White, and Staci Wyland. The Tiger Eyes line has several instructors dedicated to the band's visual ensemble. The band also utilizes many other staffers, including a videographer, a webmaster, and others.
The AUMB has several student leadership positions, the most visible of which are the drum majors who lead the band on the field and direct the band in the stands. Drum major auditions start with an interview of each applicant by the directors and graduate teaching assistants, along with a conducting audition. Those who pass this first stage then have the opportunity to conduct the band as a whole in various stands tunes during an audition which takes place during a band rehearsal. In addition, each remaining applicant takes part in another audition where they each give a mock lesson on marching technique, as well as demonstrates a routine for the traditional drum major run-out. The 2007 drum majors were Bryan Myers (Head Drum Major), Nick Smith, and John Warner. On December 30, 2007, it was announced that Nick Smith would be promoted to the position of head drum major, and current trombone section leader Stuart Ivey and trumpet section leader Karen Kirk would become drum majors, along with returning assistant drum major John Warner. This is the first time in history that the AUMB has had four drum majors.
Each section has one or two section leaders, depending on the size of the section. They oversee their section during sectional rehearsals, which could cover music or marching technique. During trips and other events, the drum majors often rely on the section leaders to help organize the band before parades and other performances. Section leaders are also responsible for administrative tasks for their sections such as ensuring attendance at events, and seeing that all necessary forms are filled out by their section members.
The band usually has one or more students functioning as librarians. They are responsible for ensuring that music, drill sheets, etc. are printed and ready for rehearsals, in addition to managing the band library. The AUMB also has four non-musical leadership positions, known as freshman advisers, who advise the band's rookie members. Within the band they are primarily known as RAT Leaders, since they oversee the RAT Program. Other student leadership positions are offered through participation in the band service organizations.
Winds and percussion
Currently, the instrumentation of the AUMB is as follows:
To achieve a uniform look and sound, AUMB provides silver instruments for all of its marchers, excluding clarinets and saxophones.
The Tiger Eyes are the visual ensemble of the Auburn University Marching Band. The Tiger Eyes are composed of three distinct lines - flags, majorettes, and dancers
- that perform complementary choreography. Tiger Eyes are selected by individual auditions
, with a separate audition for each line.
The Auburn Marching Band performs as part of Tiger Walk
at all football games. Pep bands composed of AUMB members perform at the top and bottom of Tiger Walk during home games, and also perform at Tiger Walk at away games.
Spirit March and Four Corners Pep Rally
After Tiger Walk at home games the Band is split into four pep bands. The four "Spirit Bands" leave from the top of Tiger Walk at the corner of North Donahue Dr. and Samford Ave., Lowder Business Building, the University Tennis Courts on Roosevelt Dr., and from alongside the newly constructed Student Union. Along with the cheerleaders, these bands parade through Auburn's campus to the tunes of War Eagle
and Glory to 'Ole Auburn. The four bands meet at the intersection of Donahue and Roosevelt, outside of the Southwest corner of Jordan-Hare Stadium
and perform a short pep rally there for all Auburn fans.
When first entering Jordan-Hare Stadium
, the band marches around the field, playing War Eagle and Glory to 'Ole Auburn. After circling the field, the band faces the student section to play War Eagle one more time.
The pregame show currently performed by Auburn's band was first introduced in 2004, and incorporates elements from previous pregame shows. During the first year of the new pregame, it was featured several times on ESPN and called "The most entertaining band performance yet." The band enters from a tunnel underneath the south end zone before marching down the field to War Eagle. Then the band forms the interlocking AU emblem to perform Glory. The band will then form an USA set with an American "shield" in the bottom of the S to perform God Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner before continuing on to perform The Horse, Tiger Rag, and some school spirit tunes. Often the National Anthem will incorporate a flyover. At the end of pregame the band forms an interlocking AU tunnel through which the football team enters the field.
The AUMB performs at halftime of every Auburn home football game and any away games at which the full band is present. A new halftime show is performed at every home game. Halftime performances can include a variety of music chosen by the band directors. The halftime show may also consist of "special" performances by the AUMB such as the High School Marching Honor Band
During the fourth quarter of a football game, a small pep band, called the "Tiger Bandits," leaves the stands to play for the fans seated in other areas of the stadium. This group consists of different players each week, and is sometimes also called the "Fourth Quarter Band."
Singing the Alma Mater
At the conclusion of every Auburn football game, regardless of whether or not the game was won, the band will lay down their instruments, lock their arms over each other shoulders, and sing the Auburn University Alma Mater
. After this, the band will play the "Thumb Cheer" fanfare and War Eagle before dismissing.
Like the majority of high school and college marching bands, the AUMB has a preseason band camp for its members before fall classes begin. Generally band camp will begin about a week and a half before classes start. In 2007 Auburn's band camp began on Monday, August 6 for RATs
and Tuesday, August 7 for returning members, normally referred to as Vets. Student leadership and percussion members arrive a few days earlier. There are numerous goals that the band works to accomplish during the week of band camp.
- New members will learn the marching style of the AUMB, which often differs at least slightly from their high school experience.
- The band learns the pregame show, including all music and drill.
- The band learns the first of many halftime shows to be performed that season, including all music and drill.
- Often the band will begin learning the second halftime show of the season before band camp is over.
Although the schedules vary slightly from year to year, once band camp is underway, it usually runs from about 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, every day, with the exception of Sunday mornings. It usually begins about a week to a week-and-a-half before the start of the semester and continues right up until the semester starts. While the first few days of band camp differ slightly (often concentrating more on marching fundamentals), here is a typical day at an AUMB Band Camp:
- Rat Drills — While rehearsals normally start at 8:00 a.m., the RATs (see below) and many Vets arrive for RAT Drills half an hour earlier. RAT Drills typically involve some sort of game designed to help the rookie members get to know each other and the Vets. Also, the RATs will go over the songs, cheers, and traditions of Auburn University so that they will be better prepared for game day as a member of the band.
- Morning marching rehearsal — When the full band arrives, marching rehearsal gets underway as fast as possible. These reshersals are intense and cover as much drill as possible. Often, especially during the earlier days of band camp, the band only sings their parts during this rehearsal, either leaving their instruments on the sideline or "air playing" their parts.
- Morning music rehearsal — After a couple hours, usually about 10:00 AM, the band meets at the Bibb-Graves Amphitheater for a music rehearsal. This rehearsal may include both the "stands tunes" that will be played when the band is not marching, and halftime show music to be played on the field. The band only rarely rehearses indoors, usually in instances of severe weather.
- Sectionals — Following lunch, the band meets in "sectionals." Here, each section can work on details of what each group needs to improve. Depending on the section, this time may be used to rehearse marching fundamentals, go over music, or work on the horn rocks that the band will use to give a visual flair to the songs played in the stands. Most of the band's sections have traditional sectional locations, such as the "Trombone Grove."
- Afternoon music or marching rehearsal — Following sectionals, the full band meets again, sometimes for another music rehearsal and sometimes for a marching rehearsal, dependent on what the directors feel the band needs. If the band is going over music only, this rehearsal is also held in Bibb-Graves Amphitheater. If this time is used as a marching rehearsal, it takes place at the Bodie Hinton Practice Field.
- Evening marching rehearsal — The last rehearsal of the day is held on the Practice Field. Band Camp is officially dismissed for the day usually around 8pm.
- RAT Activities — Following the day's rehearsal, a social event known as a RAT Activity is held somewhere in Auburn. While these are part of the RAT Program, everyone in the band is encouraged to attend. The purpose of these RAT Activities are to provide a chance for the band to relax after a hard day's work, and to help the RATs get to know more of the veteran marchers.
RAT Activities include RAT Parent Adoptions, the traditional campus-wide scavenger hunt, section dinners, bowling, and many other activities, typically lasting a couple hours. Afterwards, the band members return home to sleep before another rehearsal begins the next day. The week of band camp concludes with the annual RAT Banquet. The RAT Banquet is a dress-up event including a nice dinner, slide shows from the week, and the annual RAT Awards. Band Camp is, of course, intended to give the AUMB the preparation necessary to successfully perform at Auburn Football games and other events. However, Band Camp is also a time when new members become a part of the AUMB. Life-long friendships are often made during this time. The AUMB has been likened to a family, and Band Camp is when those bonds are made.
The Auburn University Marching Band takes pride in its freshman orientation program, more commonly referred to as the R.A.T. Program. In the early days of the university, all freshmen across campus were known as rats.
Nowadays, R.A.T. is used as an acronym
for Rookie Auburn Tiger, and is only used by the marching band and Auburn football team.
As is stated on their website, the purpose of the RAT Program is to help out first year marchers adjust to the differences of college and college marching band as compared to high school. In addition, any staff that are in their first year with the band are also called RATs, up to and including the Marching Band Director when appropriate.
The program is overseen by four R.A.T. Leaders. These "freshman advisers", as they are typically referred to in publications outside the band, have the duty to oversee R.A.T. Adoptions, R.A.T. Drills, and R.A.T. Activities during band camp. Over the course of the season, they serve as mentors for the rookie members, and emcee the band's R.A.T. Banquet and Bowl Banquet.
R.A.T. Adoptions are a ceremony held after the first full-band music rehearsal. Each male R.A.T. is given a R.A.T. Mom while each female R.A.T. is given a R.A.T. Dad. These R.A.T. Parents serve as friends and mentors for their rookie "son" or "daughter" throughout the course of the week, as well as throughout the season. The R.A.T. Parents are particularly helpful for R.A.T.s who are freshmen and have left home for the first time, and need someone who can help explain the college experience.
A first-year marcher traditionally retains the title of R.A.T. until the Auburn Tigers claim victory in the annual Iron Bowl game versus the University of Alambama Crimson Tide. Beginning in 2002, Auburn began what is now a six year streak of Iron Bowl victories. Since that time, no Auburn Band member has been a RAT for more than one season. However, as history has shown, it is possible for a member of the band to remain a R.A.T. for more than one season.
In 1987 a new tradition began, the annual Auburn Alumni Band
reunion. Every year since then a band of alumni has joined the AUMB on the field at halftime during one home football game. This game is often the homecoming game, but not always. In 2007 the alumni band joined the AUMB on November 3
. This annual event normally attracts over 300 alumni band members from many previous years, resulting in over 600 members of the combined bands on the field for halftime. This show has been a favorite among band members since its inception, and continues to be a fond highlight of each football season.
Kappa Kappa Psi (ΚΚΨ) - Π Chapter
The AUMB is served by the Pi chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi. The Pi chapter was founded in 1926, but like many chapters of the then all male organization, the chapter went inactive during the years of the Great Depression and World War II. The chapter was rechartered on June 6, 1992.
Pursuant with purposes of Kappa Kappa Psi , the Pi chapter works to serve the Auburn University Bands and the students involved with the band program. Some of this service is done through providing logistical support for the bands, such as the movement and set up of equipment and supplies, while other projects, such as fund raisers and social events, are also organized or supported by the chapter as a service to the Auburn University Bands.
The Pi Chapter was recognized as a Chapter Leadership Award recipient by Kappa Kappa Psi for the 2005-2007 biennium at the fraternity's 2007 National Convention in Orlando, Florida.
Tau Beta Sigma (ΤΒΣ) - ΘΛ Chapter
Another organization which serves the band is the Theta Lambda chapter of Tau Beta Sigma. Auburn's chapter of ΤΒΣ was founded in the fall of 1991, and was officially installed as the Theta Lambda chapter on May 24, 1992. ΤΒΣ sisters' duties include uniform distribution, selling shoes and flip folders and other necessary items to band members, and other important jobs.
The Theta Lambda chapter was honored in July 2001 with the Grace and A. Frank Martin Chapter Leadership Award, the highest award given to ΤΒΣ chapters, for the 1999-2001 biennium.