University of Michigan’s marching band celebrates 125 years of tradition

‘Baaaaand, take the field!’

The University of Michigan Band is celebrating 125 years of musical traditions.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan Band is celebrating 125 years of musical traditions.

After several attempts to establish a marching band at the University of Michigan, 17-year-old Harry dePoint helped recruit 30 musicians to meet with elected conductor Ray P. Warren in 1896. From there, the University of Michigan marching band has evolved and currently has 276 students that perform on average during the halftime show.

In 1914, the band added a drum major to their routine. George Olsen, a 16-year-old from Oregon, became the first drum major for the University of Michigan Band.

According to the university, Olsen had a background in military drills as he graduated from a military high school. Olsen taught the marching band these drills and gave the band a “new look.”

The University of Michigan Band has had many conductors over the years, with different aspirations for the young musicians. These conductors were unique in many ways, from having connections with John Philip Sousa to establishing the Michigan “High Step.” The influences they all had helped mold the band into what it is today.

Nearly 80 years after the University of Michigan Band was established, women were allowed to join. In 1972, the University of Michigan Band became co-ed.

Today nearly 43% of the band is women. The band is celebrating with a halftime show marking the 50th anniversary of the band, welcoming all genders.


About the Authors:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.

Elizabeth Washington is a Digital News Editor and has been with Local 4 News since April 2022.