University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band

University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band
Minuteman Marching Band
School University of Massachusetts Amherst
Location Amherst, MA
Conference Colonial Athletic Association (football)
Founded 1935
Director Dr. Timothy Anderson
Assistant director Thomas Hannum
Members 352 (incl. apx. 45 auxiliary)
Fight song Fight Mass
Uniform White with maroon sash, black pants and gloves, maroon shako, (Guard: Red glittered top, black pants, tan fingerless gloves.)
Website University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band

The University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band (UMMB) is the marching band for the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The band currently has about 352 members and was directed by George N. Parks from 1977 until his sudden death in September 2010. Assistant Thomas Hannum was named interim director, assisted by Michael Klesch and Frederick Omega Pye. On May 9th 2011, in an e-mail to students, chancellor Robert C. Holub announced the appointment of Timothy T. Anderson as director of the band. Mr. Anderson previously has directed the marching band at California State University, Fresno.[1]

The Minuteman Band plays halftime and post-game shows at all home football games and frequently travels to away games. The band has also performed at Bands of America in 1993, 2001, 2004 and 2007. In 1998, the Minuteman Marching Band was awarded the prestigious Sudler Trophy, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a collegiate marching band.

In recent years, The Minuteman Band has performed hits from Madonna, Elton John and Earth, Wind, and Fire as well as songs from West Side Story and the movie Troy. A new tradition, UMass Night at the Pops, features the UMMB alongside the Boston Pops orchestra at Symphony Hall. This event is an annual celebration of all things UMass, though the UMMB does not always attend.[citation needed]

In the fall of 2011, the George N. Parks Minuteman Marching Band Building was completed, giving the band its first home since the Old Chapel was closed in 1997.



The band program at University of Massachusetts Amherst started in 1863 when the University was known as the Massachusetts Agricultural College. The Morris Drum Corps, as it was known, was the first resemblance of a marching band at the school, and it was directed by First Lieutenant Charles Morris of the 5th Army Artillery.

The Morris Drum Corps in 1881

In the 1890s, the band was renamed the Clark Memorial Cadet Band after former college president William S. Clark. At the close of the century the band's instrumentation expanded, but the musicians consisted only of military cadets.

In 1931, the Massachusetts Agricultural College, or "Aggie", became the Massachusetts State College. Soon after, in 1934, the College hired its first music instructor, Frank Stratton. A year later, Massachusetts Agricultural College started to organize a formal band program, and appointed its first non-military band instructor, Charles Farnum. The newly created band became known as the "Redmen Marching Band". In 1938, the band had its most successful season to date by playing at all home games and an away game versus the United States Coast Guard Academy. During World War II, all bands at the University were disbanded from March 1943 until September 1945 because many of the members served in the military.

After the war, the band remained small, so the director set out to create a female "drill team" to augment the band. In 1946, this team expanded to a size of 44. This drill team was given the name of the "Precisionettes" in 1952.

In 1947 the Massachusetts State College became the University of Massachusetts. The band's name changed from the Redmen Marching Band to the Minuteman Marching Band in the 1970s under the leadership of Professor John Jenkins. Jenkins brought a new style of marching, high step rapid rhythm (thighs parallel to the ground) to UMass from the University of Michigan. While Jenkins led the band it played at a New England Patriots game as guests of the Patriots. In 1977, George N. Parks was hired to direct the band. Parks brought the roll-step marching style and fostered the reputation that the band has today. His unique styles and intensity were widely praised.

Until 1998, the band was housed in the Old Chapel on campus. Since then the band has been dispersed about the campus, though in 2009 the campus dedicated $4.5 million to a new building. The band is currently collecting donations to fulfill the remainder of the costs for an adequate building at $8 million. Groundbreaking for the new building, adjacent to the band's current storage building in Grinnell Arena, was held on October 17, 2009. The University announced that it would be named the George N. Parks Minuteman Marching Band Building.

In 2010, George Parks suffered a fatal heart attack while traveling with the band to the University of Michigan. Associate director Thomas Hannum was named interim director.[2]

Traditional songs

The University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band during a pre-game show

The UMMB incorporates a pre-game show at all home football games in which several traditional songs are always played and the band marches into its traditional "M" formation. The Minuteman Band always features a Colonial Honor Guard made up of band members during the pre-game show. They march onto the field to the theme from "The Patriot" for the National Anthem. There is also a post-game "5th quarter" show at all football games in which the band's normal show is performed again. The band always closes its shows with Frank Sinatra's "My Way".

The Traditional Songs:

  • "Fight Mass" - the UMass fight song. This song is played during the pre-game, half-time, and post-game shows as well as after every touchdown.
  • "Roll Down the Field" - The lyrics and title changed to "Cheer for UMass" in 2003 but the music stayed the same.
  • "Twilight Shadows" - The Alma Mater
  • "The Star Spangled Banner" - The band is often responsible for providing the National Anthem at all home football games.
  • "Patriot" - The theme from the movie, "The Patriot".
  • "My Way" - A band tradition is to play this song after every post-game show. The band also sings the song at many non-performance events as a traditional way of ending their meetings.


2003 Season

The 2003 Season show consisted of a mix of songs with no clearly set theme. It has sometimes been called "Hot Jazz". Among the songs were "Birdland", "El Boro", "Legend of the One Eyed Sailor", "Get it On", and Gloria Estefan's "Oye Tu Conga". The pit was featured on a version of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android". The band went to Delaware, Allentown, MICCA Regionals in Bridgeport, CT., and to a post-season game at Colgate.

2004 Season

The 2004 Season show consisted of music from the musical West Side Story and songs written by Elton John. Notable performances included the Bands of America Grand Nationals at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana.

2005 Season

The 2005 season consisted of music from the movie Troy and the band Earth, Wind, and Fire. Among the notable performances during this season, the band played at the football game between UMass and the United States Army at West Point. During this performance, the band played Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" in honor of the armed forces.

2006 Season

The Minuteman Band's main show for 2006 contained music from Henry V and the band Chicago. Performances included the UMass football games against the US Navy and the Canadian national football league playoff game in Montreal. The band's normal season was extended because UMass's football team made the playoffs. The band played their final halftime show of the 2006 post season in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the NCAA National Championship game vs. Appalachian State University.

2007 Season

2007's show included Russian Christmas Music, "Rhapsody in Blue", and three hits by Gloria Estefan including "Anything for You", "Oye tu Conga" and "Get on your Feet".

In 2007, the Band performed in Allentown, Pennsylvania, all home UMass Football games, and the National Bands of America in Indianapolis.

2008 Season

The 2008 show contained the fifth movement of Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, an abridged version of Billy Joel's "And So It Goes", Dave Weckl's "Tiempo de Festival" (performed as the percussion feature), and a medley of Stevie Wonder songs ("Uptight (Everything's Alright)", "Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing", "For Once In My Life", and "Fingertips"). "Mon Homme" (known by its English title "My Man") and "Stars and Stripes Forever" were arranged for the season's performance with University of Delaware Fightin' Blue Hen Marching Band, and a medley of patriotic songs was performed during the final two home football games. The final home football game also featured a performance of "Malagueña".

Performance locations in 2008 included Allentown, PA, Fanueil Hall, the West Boyleston Parade and Field Show, and the MICCA High School Marching Band Championships. The band performed at all home football games, as well as two away games at College of the Holy Cross and Northeastern University.

2009 Season

The fall 2009 show featured music from the Disney Motion Picture Pirates of the Caribbean. Selections included "Jack Sparrow", "The Kraken", "Davy Jones" and "He's a Pirate". Other featured selections included "Swing Street" By Barry Manilow and Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture". The percussion section headlined "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey". The show was debuted on September 12, 2009 at halftime of the Albany game. During band camp, the band recorded a music video with the group Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers for their newest song at the time "Shady Esperanto and the Young Hearts". The group choose to use the Marching Band in the video because several members of the Sixers are Alumni of the university and the marching band.

2010 Season

The fall 2010 show featured music from the motion picture The Wind and the Lion as well as a medly Madonna songs. The selection from the movie included "The Wind and The Lion". Other music included "Canto Del Viento", the percussion feature "Oye Tu Conga", and Madonna's "Like a Prayer". Later shows in the season added arrangements of I'll Be There by The Jackson 5 and When the Saints Go Marching In. Parts of the show were debuted on September 4, 2010 at halftime of the William and Mary game. The fall 2010 season included performances in Allentown and a game at the University of Michigan.

On September 16, 2010 while in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, George N. Parks suffered a fatal heart attack after the band's performance for the local high school and opposing team's band.[3][4] The band played for the high schoolers as a "thank you" for being allowed to use their facilities during a stopover on the Michigan trip. The band decided to go ahead to Michigan, and performed to great success in front of 110,187 people, the largest audience in the band's history. When the band returned to Cuyahoga Falls on their way home, the town provided a banquet when the band arrived, and a police escort when they departed the next day.

Two weeks after Michigan, the band performed in Allentown. The following week, for Homecoming, the school held a two hour tribute in the Mullins Center for Parks before that days football game. For halftime, an alumni band composed of almost 1,000 past members performed first a tune, and then a combined performance with current members of the band. In all, almost 1,300 members past and present were on the field for this performance. The next week the band attended an away game versus the University of New Hampshire at Gillette Stadium, which was billed as the "Colonial Clash." The band performed at MICCA Finals in Lowell, MA the day after.

The twenty-sixth annual band day occurred two weeks later. Almost three thousand students from elementary through high school were in attendance. The next week, the band performed their field show for the last time for Senior Day.

2011 Season

The 2011 season opened on September 17th during a home game. The first song in the show is an adaptation of Dreams of a Witches' Sabbath, written by Hector Berlioz in 1830. The next song is You Can't Stop the Beat, from the musical Hairspray. The next song is the 1812 Overture, and this is followed by Big Noise from Winnetka. On Saturday November 5, 2011 homecoming, the George N. Parks Minuteman Marching Band Building was dedicated.


The mellophone section during a half-time show

The Minuteman Band comprises typical marching band instruments: mellophones instead of French horns, alto and tenor saxophones, flutes, piccolos (audition only), clarinets, trumpets, trombones, euphoniums, and sousaphones instead of tubas.

In addition to the instrumentation on the field, the band has keyboards, marimba, electric guitar and bass as well as various singers. The band does not require instrument audition for its members, however some instruments like the piccolo, guitar, bass, and vocals require an audition which is open to any band member.


The UMMB colorguard during the 2006 season

There is a large colorguard section known for its excellence in spinning flags, rifles, and sabres. In the 2006 season there were over 40 members of the colorguard.

The colorguard accompanies the band on the field during the performance but is not constrained to marching like the rest of the band. As in most marching bands, the UMass colorguard follows sets and often switches between different flags, rifles, and sabres during the performance depending on the music being played.


The UMass Drumline

The Minuteman Band's percussion section is strongly regarded as among the best in the nation. Sponsored by major percussive manufacturers such as Vic Firth, Pearl Drums, Adams Musical Instruments, Zildjian Cymbals, and Evans Drumheads, the UMass Drumline has built a national reputation for their dedication, skill, and hard work that is paralleled by few others in the nation. The standard of excellence is ever growing, as peaking interests in the ensemble have caused tremendous response in program participation. The percussion section is instructed by DCI Hall of Famer Thomas P. Hannum. Thom is best known for his work in Drum Corps International, as well as being an excellent clinician and author of percussive technique books. The UMass Drumline is also known well for many of its alumni who have branched out into many teaching and writing opportunities in percussive arts throughout the nation, as best noted in an article written for A full listing of alumni can be found here.


Most people would regard the Minuteman Band's style as that of a corps style, forming precise drill sets and shapes. The band moves from set to set using a "roll step" or "glide step" and members stay in the form while in motion. However, The Minuteman Band tends to mix in some free form or scramble band techniques with more the traditional marching styles. Usually, for the main show theme, traditional marching band styles will be used and then there will be some songs that are looser and less rigid and members are frequently encouraged to have fun to excite the audience during these tunes. The band's use of amplification with electric guitars and other percussion often gives the band the reputation as a non-traditional marching band.


A list of band directors[5]:

  • Charles Morris (1861-???)
  • Charles Farnum (1935–1945)
  • Doric Alviani (1945–1949)
  • Ezra Schabas (1949–1950)
  • Joseph Contino (1950–1963)
  • John Jenkins (1963–1977)
  • George N. Parks (1977–2010)
  • Thomas Hannum (2010-2011) (Interim director)
  • Timothy T. Anderson (2011-Present)

External links


Preceded by
West Virginia
Sudler Trophy Recipient
Succeeded by
Texas Tech

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