University Bands and Spirit Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

These questions and answers were developed by current members of the marching and basketball bands.

What are the benefits of joining the Marching Band? ~ Answer

Marching band is a great way to make a lot of friends very quickly, and it offers perks and benefits towards your college career. Enrollment in the marching band gives you a $100 tuition reimbursement and meets your university required PE (Physical Well Being) credit. The marching season ends about 5 weeks prior to the end of the semester, opening up time previously used for rehearsals to study for finals while students in other PE courses are still attending those classes. Participation in the band and guard makes you part of a very powerful spirit organization on campus, provides you the opportunity for leadership development and personal growth, and instills principals that can be used throughout the entirety of your college career.

How do I join the Marching Band? ~ Answer

Joining the marching band is quite simple. When you register for your fall classes, add one of the following course numbers depending on your year and requirement. If you are taking marching band to receive your PE core requirement, regardless of your current year, add the course PWB140. If you already have your PE credit, then add course ES119 if you are a freshman or sophomore, or course ES319 if you are junior or senior. If you have not yet been in contact with the band office, fill out the online contact form. The band office will answer any questions you may have about the ensemble and will collect important instrumentation and uniform sizing information needed to start the year off strong. The office can be contacted via email at or 317-940-9876.

Do I need to be a music major? ~ Answer

No, many students from various majors on campus join marching band each year. These students simply enjoy performing, love the experience, and find rehearsals a very relaxing way to get away from their school work. In fact, the majority of the members of the Butler University Marching Band aren't music majors.

What experience do I need to join the Flag Line? ~ Answer

While experience is a big plus, no prior color guard involvement is necessary. Hand-eye coordination is the only requirement. The Butler University Marching Band has staff and upperclass members who are more than willing to help you out and teach you what you need to know. We have a large range of experience in our line, from those who have marched with drum corps and high-end competition HS bands to new members interested in learning for the very first time at Butler. It's a lot of fun and is a great way to make lots of friends!  To help you, instructional videos on flag fundamentals and our fight song routines (easy!) can be found on the "New Members" Moodle site.  Here is a link to easy step-by-step instructions on how to access that site.   New Members Moodle Site.

What can I do in the Marching Band that doesn't involve marching? ~ Answer

We have pit percussion and front electronics ensembles that perform on the front sideline. These ensemble include guitar, electric bass, mallet instruments, piano/synth keyboards, and auxiliary percussion instruments. 

We are always on the lookout for a student with a dynamic speaking voice to be the band's announcer and those students can earn their PE credit too.

We also have internships for video and audio engineers to assist with our live performances and to create the season DVD that we create each year.  Media Arts majors, or those with media or audio production experience can contact the "Internships and Career Services" office at Butler to apply for these internships.  Certainly, if you can play an instrument we want you to do so, but if you are a non-musician with A/V skill, this is a way you too can get involved.  Check with friends and roommates to see if they might like to intern with our band.

Is Marching Band a good social experience? ~ Answer

Absolutely! Marching band is a great social experience. You get to interact with other students and closely work together as a team. There are also band social/service organizations, such as Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi, who host events so that the band can become closer. The marching band is a great way to make a ton of friends outside of your dorm, major, and normal classes!  And the band often acts like a large "peer advising" group, assisting younger members with class work and ideas as to how to stay on track to graduation.  With more than 130 people involved in both athletic bands it is difficult to come in with a major that an older member of the band does not already have!  Those folks can be a GREAT resource for you!

How much does it cost to be in the Marching Band? ~ Answer

The fee for new members is $45. For wind, percussion and front ensemble players, this fee covers an in-stands hat, an under-uniform shirt and a copy of the season DVD. The shirt and hat are required for all performances and once purchased can be used for multiple years in the band. For the color guard this fee covers their warm-ups, uniforms, and a copy of the season DVD.

Returning members pay $10 each year to help defray the costs of creating the DVD.

Additionally, renting instruments from Butler, including all guard, drum line, and pit instruments, costs $20. This fee creates a fund to keep these instruments in good repair.

Though this may seem like a bit of money, when compared the cost of books required for other PE classes the amounts are quite similar.

Do I need my own instrument? ~ Answer

School owned instruments can be rented from the marching band.  There is a $20 dollar fee to do so that can be paid at band registration.  The fee creates a fund so that allows us to keep the instruments in good shape.  We own piccolos, clarinets, tenor and baritone saxes, trumpets, mellophones, trombones, marching baritones and tubas.  We also provide all drums, mallet instruments, electric instruments, and amplifiers.  This instrumental rental fee is charged for all guard, front/pit and battery percussion members as those are the most expensive sections of the band to properly equip.

Do I need to have music memorized? ~ Answer

For the majority of shows, no, you don't have to have your music memorized. Many members of the band use lyres for their music during shows.  With the amount of music we perform in a season, there is no pressure to have it all memorized. It is expected to have several frequently played songs, such as the War Song, Varsity, etc. memorized. We utilize "flip books" for the 30 or so songs we play in the stands.

Are there auditions? ~ Answer

There are no auditions for membership in any part of the band.  We do have a simple "playing exam" at the start of the season where we hear each member individually so we can get to know your strengths and your suitability for different parts in multi-part sections like trumpet and trombone. Same thing for the drumline so we can place you on the proper instrument.  To facilitate this "playing exam" process, make sure you have filled out the online contact form. The band office will answer any questions you may have. The office can be contacted via email at or 317-940-9876.

Can I join if my instrument is not typically in a marching band? ~ Answer

If you do not play an instrument we use, then you still have a few options.  Our color guard does not require experience, so if you are interested in adding to the visual aspect of the band, this section may be right for you.  Our front ensemble may also provide an option for those who play instruments not usually seen in a marching band.  We have had a violinist and a cellist play with us in the past.  If your instrument can't be marched, or placed in the front ensemble, then you might decide to try a new instrument or switch to a secondary instrument that you can play.  There are always options. If in doubt, simply ask!

How physically demanding are rehearsals? ~ Answer

A typical marching band rehearsal is not particularly strenuous for those in relatively good physical condition. For inexperienced marchers, special care is taken in the first week of rehearsals to get participants accustomed to the techniques of marching. These techniques are designed to make marching as effortless and comfortable as possible. Appropriate footwear, comfortable clothing, and a large water bottle are the best tools for a physically undemanding rehearsal.  Remember, this is a class that counts for a PE credit, so some amount of physical activity on your part is expected.  You will find the Preseason Technique Training Program to be a great asset in helping you get ready to perform with the BUMB this fall.

What if I am physically unable to march but play an instrument that is normally on the field, or can't play an instrument but want to help? ~ Answer

For the past couple of years, we have had a section of our band entitled "Mobility Assistance."  Their role is to move any BUMB members who use wheelchairs around the field in the different formations.  The turf in the Butler Bowl is very conducive for wheelchairs to move across it easily.  And the best part is that both the wheelchair member and the mobility person who assists them earn their PE credit!

And for other opportunities see the answer to the "What can I do without marching?" question above.

How can being in the Marching Band help a Music Education major? ~ Answer

Participating in Marching Band as a music education major allows students the opportunity to develop leadership and teaching skills.  Many use their roles as Drum Major or Section Leader to "try out" pedagogical techniques that they later utilize as future music educators.  Some music majors perform on a secondary instrument, or march in the guard or drumline as this adds even more tools into their educator's toolbox.  As long as you look and sound good, and can make a real contribution to the band, you are welcome to play an instrument other than your primary and strengthen your secondary instrument skills!!

Can I join if I've never marched before? ~ Answer

Absolutely. In 2008 the band added a front ensemble and "pit" where mallets, accessory percussion, electronic keyboards, and electric and bass guitar are used in a stationary section. Also, our marching band is like one big family, so there will always be someone there to assist you in marching correctly, whether it be the drum major, your section leader, or just a member of your section. You'll always have someone there to help you when it is needed. The band has members every year who have little or no marching experience.  Typically, they are able to quickly learn and become very proficient members of our band.

Is it true I can attend Butler's "Snare & Tenor Drum Camp" at a reduced tuition? ~ Answer

Yes.  This camp, featuring Bill Bachman and our own Jeff Queen, is available with the band paying nearly half the cost of the camp.  See here for information and dates of the camp and here is the application for the reduced tuition.

Check out the Athletic Bands Handbook (Lexicon) for more information!