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Encyclopedia > University of Wisconsin Marching Band
The University of Wisconsin Marching Band
School University of Wisconsin-Madison
Location Madison, Wisconsin
Conference Big Ten
Founded 1885
Director Michael Leckrone
Members 325
Uniform White hat with red/white plume, red jacket with red/white overlay with W logos, black pants, black shoes with white spats.

The University of Wisconsin Marching Band is the marching band for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was formed with 11 members in the fall of 1885 to support the military battalion. Today, it has grown to over 300 members and performs at all Badger home football games. University of Wisconsin redirects here. ... Nickname: Location of Madison in Dane County, Wisconsin Coordinates: , Municipality City Incorporated 1848 Government  - Mayor Dave Cieslewicz Area  - City 219. ... For other uses of the term Big Ten see Big Ten (disambiguation). ... Michael (Mike) Leckrone is the current director of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band. ... An American college marching band on the field (Kansas State University) A marching band is a group of instrumental musicians who generally perform outdoors, and who incorporate movement â€“ usually some type of marching and other movements  â€“ with their musical performance. ... University of Wisconsin redirects here. ... The Wisconsin Badgers are a variety of collegiate athletic teams from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. ...



The University of Wisconsin Marching Band was created in 1885 as the Wisconsin Regimental Band. Previously the University Military Battalion marched to only a drum, and the Battalion commandant Major Chase stressed in 1883 that there was a "need for a fife and drum corps to play for the Battalion drills." The first band consisted of 11 members, with two or three more joining before the year ended. It was not until 1894 that the 26 members of the University Band began playing at football games.

In September 1928 it was announced that all football engagements would be handled by 100 men, to relieve the strain from concert performers. This was the beginning of the current Band Department structure. Under Edson W. Morphy the "Second Band" became more active with Athletic Department events. In 1934 the band gained a new director, Raymond F. Dvorak, who continued to revolutionize the band in many ways, including introducing the now famous "arm-swinging" during the singing of Varsity.

The current University of Wisconsin Marching Band did not truly come about, however, until late in the summer of 1969 when they gained a new director under Mike Leckrone. The military aspects of a marching band were not popular with students of the time, and enrollment was suffering. Leckrone introduced physical conditioning by requiring that every member attend Registration Week (Reg-Week) fundamental drills as well as pioneering a more physically demanding marching step ("stop at the top") and a new pregame entrance (the "Run-On"). He ordered every performance to be filmed and scheduled viewing sessions in which he pointed out any inconsistencies or errors, which lead to the publishing of the "Dummy List", or a list of every performer's errors. All of these traditions still exist to this very day. Michael (Mike) Leckrone is the current director of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band. ...

Auditions and Membership

At the end of August returning band members and prospective freshmen attend Welcome or Registration Week (commonly known as Reg-Week). All first-year members in the band are referred to as freshmen, even though they are often sophomores or juniors in the university. Over the course of four days the band meets for 2-3 hours in the morning, has a short break for lunch, and then meet for another 3-4 hours in the afternoon. At night they often have a music-only rehearsal. The purpose of Reg-Week is both to teach prospective freshmen the fundamentals of the marching style and serve as intense physical conditioning. Every potential member also must perform a short audition for the director. At the end of the week the final list is posted outside of the Humanities building. While many prospective freshmen are cut, membership is not guaranteed for returning members either in order to ensure that everyone works to the best of their ability.


The University of Wisconsin Marching Band is composed of just over 320 members and divided into 28 ranks. On average, there are about 224 marchers on the field, not including the drum major. These ranks number from 1 to 25 and letters A through C. There are also "X" spots designated X-1 through X-18 which fill gaps in formations. All band members are issued silver instruments (with the exception of the school-issued white clarinets). Following is a list of instruments, the ranks they occupy, and the number of members for the 2006-2007 school year.

Trumpeter redirects here. ... Two soprano clarinets: a Bâ™­ clarinet (left, with capped mouthpiece) and an A clarinet (right, with no mouthpiece). ... The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. ... The mellophone is a brass instrument that is typically used in place of the French horn in marching bands or drum and bugle corps. ... Marching percussion instruments are specially designed to be played while moving. ... For other uses, see Tuba (disambiguation). ... A standard 3-valved Bb flugelhorn. ... The euphonium is a conical-bore, baritone-voiced brass instrument. ... The saxophone (colloquially referred to as sax) is a conical-bored instrument of the woodwind family. ...


The 5th Quarter

The University of Wisconsin Marching Band's Fifth Quarter is one of its most recognizable traditions. The entire band begins by marching onto the field from the nearest endzone. They halt, face the winning team's stands, and play that team's school song. They then turn, face the other side, and play that team's school song. After this the band breaks rank and essentially does whatever they want.

Normally played during the Fifth Quarter are songs such as "On Wisconsin", "You've Said It All" (also known as the "Bud" song, referring to its beginning as the tune from a Budweiser commercial), "Space Badgers", "Dance Little Bird" (The Chicken Dance), "Beer Barrel Polka", "Tequila", "Hey Baby", and much more. Thousands of spectators remain in the stands for fifteen minutes after the game in order to enjoy the performance. On, Wisconsin! is the official state song of Wisconsin. ... The Chicken Dance is the seventh episode of the second season of the HBO television series Sex and the City. ... Beer Barrel Polka, also known as Roll Out the Barrel, is a song which became popular world-wide during World War II. The music was originally composed by the Czech musician Jaromír Vejvoda aka Twinkletoes in 1927. ... Disambiguation: Tequila is also the name of a hit by the band Terrorvision Tequila is a 1958 surf instrumental by the music band The Champs. ...

At the end of the Fifth Quarter, the band lines up once more to play Varsity, as the spectators sing. The band then exits the field to the north entrance to perform a little more and sing "It's Hard to Be Humble", after which the band marches to the Humanities building, where they are dismissed.

Band Banquet

Began during the 1927-28 school year by then-band director Edson W. Morphy and traditionally held in late November or early December, the band banquet is a chance for band members to reflect on the past marching season and tell stories or jokes. The dress is formal and the band often invites many people to speak. Scholarships and awards are handed out and the percussion section performs drum cadences with plates and silverware. The night ends with a slideshow and the singing of Varsity.


Following a football game the band leaves Camp Randall and walks to the Humanities building, where it is dismissed. The band acknowledges the field assistants, drum major(s), team, fans, and themselves, gets a recap of the day from the director, and is told what to expect in the coming week of practice. The band then sings Varsity, and is called to attention by the drum major, who gives the band a final talk, usually congratulating them on the day, but also telling them that there are still things to fix, and warning them of the hard practices to come. The band is then dismissed for the day, and members walk home, still in full uniform, sometimes stopping to play for badger fans still tailgating after the game.

On Wisconsin Finale

Beginning in 1976 the halftime show of the last home football game of the year is ended with On Wisconsin Finale. While playing a maestoso version of On Wisconsin the band forms vertical lines. At once, the lines expand into the letters On Wis and the band marches towards the audience, ending the performance in a knee bow. Maestoso (Mie-eh-stoe-zoe) is Italian for majestic. ...

Reversing the Caps

When the football team wins the game, the members of the Band take their hats off and put them on backwards. This is a tradition started years ago and signifies "looking back" at the victory that day.


Skyrockets are a method that the Wisconsin Band uses to call attention to something. Examples of when a skyrocket would be used would be announcing a song or cheer, telling a joke, or greeting someone. It began as a schoolwide practice, where students would use them to greet a professor at the beginning of a lecture. The sound of a skyrocket is meant to mimic a real rocket by beginning in a low hiss, followed by a short, loud "boom", an "ahhh" and ending in a whistle. Example of a "classic" skyrocket: "SSSSS ... BOOM ... AHHHH .... WHISTLE! Hey Seattle, is that the Space Needle or are you just happy to see us?"

Tuba March

At the beginning of the fourth quarter the tubas line up single file and begin a march around the stadium, weaving in and out of the stands and concourse. They play songs such as Semper Fidelis, Beer Barrel Polka, and On Wisconsin. This tradition began some time in the 1950s and when athletic director Elroy Hirsch banned the tuba march in 1971 many students and alumni protested. The uproar was so great that the tuba march was reinstated the following year.

Union South

One hour before every home game, the Badger Band congregates at Union South to perform a pregame concert for fans. After playing Chorale #1, the Tubas tell a joke using a skyrocket, and then the band plays On Wisconsin twice. Then the band plays an abbreviated version of the opposing school's song, followed by the pregame concert selection. Next, the band plays the halftime show and "The Bud Song" (You've Said It All) and On Wisconsin one last time to fire up the fans. Then they march to the Camp Randall for pregame.

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