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Frequently asked questions regarding auditions for the MSU Spartan Marching Band

  • Do you have to be admitted to MSU in order to participate in the Spartan Marching Band (SMB)?
    Yes. Note: Admission to Lifelong Education is not an option for participation in the Spartan Marching Band.
  • Is the Spartan Marching Band a class?
    Yes, members of the SMB must sign up for MUS 114 and pay for one credit. This is not optional.
  • What do I prepare? What should I play?
    A 3 to 5 minute piece exhibiting contrasting styles. These styles should show off what you do best. You have a few minutes to “WOW” the adjudicator. Preparing jazz or classical styles is fine. Solo and Ensemble pieces work very well. Remember that this is an audition, not a recital, so you will not play through ALL of the prepared selections. The adjudicator will probably cut you off, or ask you to skip around a bit. Selections do NOT need to be accompanied.
  • When will I play?
    We will meet in Cook Recital Hall of the MSU Music Building (West Circle Drive) at 9:00 am for a brief meeting. At approximately 9:30 am, (a sign up sheet will circulate) you will begin to play for individual adjudicators (sign up in 5 minute intervals). No one should be here later than 3:00 PM.
  • Is there a marching audition?
    Yes. After lunch, our marching staff will do a brief clinic (outside), presenting you with some basic SMB fundamentals and concepts. Then, you will participate in some marching exercises. Your “marching skills aptitude” score will be calculated into your overall audition score. Please dress accordingly. Running shoes (sneakers) suggested. 1:00 to 3:00 PM. Field location TBA.
  • Will I be interviewed?
    The adjudicator will talk with you and ask questions. Just be yourself. Be upbeat, positive, confident, etc.
  • When do I find out if I made the band?
    A mailing goes out on July 1 (approx).
  • When would SMB start in the fall/summer?
    SMB Preseason Drills (our band camp) take place here on the MSU campus, and are held the week before fall semester classes begin. If you earn a spot in the band, you will receive permission to move into YOUR dorm room early (just like a football player). You will live in your room for the duration of Preseason. You will need to pay a small fee for each day you stay in your room before your regular dorm contract begins, but your meals will all be paid for/provided by the SMB.
  • How much practice/rehearsal is there?
    Our regular rehearsals are from 4:30 to 6:00 PM (Mon–Fri). There is an additional “sit down” music rehearsal on Monday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. Gameday rehearsals usually begin at 7:30 am.
  • Are there sectionals?
    Yes, on an average of twice per week (Wed and Fri) from 4:00 PM to 4:25 PM. These are required for all band members.
  • What do I need to pay for?
    The class credit, your band jacket (approx. $125), your preseason on-campus early arrival housing, white gloves and band shoes ($35-40), your season-long uniform dry cleaning (approx. $80), various SMB gear/t-shirts/etc ($20), and maintenance of your personal instrument.
  • Will I be given an instrument to use?
    Yes, all SMB instrumentalists are issued an instrument. If you play mellophone, baritone or tuba, your issued instrument is also your practice and performance instrument. Silver trombones, trumpets, and saxes are issued for game-day use only. Trumpets, trombones and saxes must provide their own instrument for practice. No cornets may be used in practice. Personal practice trombones may NOT have F-attachments.
  • Isn’t the Spartan Marching Band just for music majors?
    No. Only 30 to 40 of the band’s 300 students are studying music as a major. Otherwise, students from all across the university’s academic offerings enjoy performing in the Spartan Band.
  • Do I need to make an appointment for my audition?
    YES. Please contact the band office at or (517) 355-7654. They will take your information, and put you on the list of those we expect to attend the audition.
  • Where do I park?
    In Lot 62W on the north side of IM West near Spartan Stadium. It is a 5-minute walk to the Music Building.
  • How many positions are open in the band?
    Those numbers differ every year and will be discussed at the audition meeting.
  • What if I play a woodwind instrument other than saxophone?
    The SMB does not utilize flutes, piccolos, or clarinets in our instrumentation. The band changed to an “All Brass & Saxophone” ensemble in the 1960’s. We utilize nearly 56 alto and tenor saxophones. Many of those players take pride in being flute and clarinet players who have successfully transferred to the saxophone (a woodwind double that is very common). It is quite typical for flute and clarinet players (double reeds too) to focus on the saxophone during their senior year in high school by way of pit orchestra, pep band, after school lessons, tutoring sessions, etc., in order to be confident on saxophone at the June audition.
  • Can I audition by video?
    Participating in the “on campus” audition day is important. In some cases (far away “out of state” students), it is impossible to be on campus for the audition. If this is the case, follow the instructions at to submit a video link of your audition. It is to your advantage to attend the live audition “on campus.” (see #5) Sight-reading could be the determining factor.
  • If I make the band, are there fitness requirements?"
    The higher your fitness level, the better our band can perform. Each SMB member has fitness goals that vary, however our collective goal is to arrive at preseason drills “in shape.” At a minimum, during a 2 or 3-mile run, you should be able to maintain a “9-minute” mile. REMINDER, this is a goal, NOT a requirement.
  • Can I attend a community college and still be in the SMB?

Other Questions?

SMB Director, Dr. David Thornton at:


SMB Associate Director, Prof. Arris Golden at:

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