TitleExpanding the Spirit of the West Marching Band Request Date2012-11-30
DepartmentSchool of Music
RequestorGregory Young Phone3564
Campuses Bozeman Billings Havre Great Falls FSTS Extension MAES
Cross Depts All departments
Proposed Dates Start: March 31, 2013 End:  
This proposal will help expand the marching band to 150 members by 2015, essentially doubling the size of the 2011 band. Such a rapid expansion will require a significant addition to the operations budget, and funds to recruit more students in all disciplines to MSU who have already started integrating learning and engagement, through music. The funds will be used to pay operating expenses, and send the director and other music faculty and student groups to do recruiting performances at high schools, and community venues.
This proposal directly addresses metric E.1.2: By 2019, the number of students, faculty and staff involved in outreach activities will increase, with particular attention to underserved areas and minority populations. Because this proposal involves recruiting Montana residents, it also addresses Metric A.1.1: By 2019, the number of Montana undergraduate students enrolled will surpass 9,900.
Funding Type: One-Time Only Funding Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding
  FY13 FY14 FY15 Base ($) OTO Startup ($)   FTE;
Materials & Supplies       40000       
Travel       30000       
Contracted Services              
Other Operations              
TOTAL 70000     
Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.

The current operation budget is insufficient for the current marching band size, and has been propped up this year by one-time foundation support and will be in deficit without FY13 support. The request contained herein will be supplemented by endowm ent funds on an ongoing basis from the recent initiative to expand the band that was approved by the foundation.

Describe the Proposal

Montana State University’s Marching Band, aptly named The Spirit of the West, plays a dynamic role in uniting the communities of Bozeman and MSU.  As a performing group it is essential in generating and building game day fever at downtown rallies, around the campus, and at the stadium for the University’s fall football games.  As an outreach program it serves to recruit new students and inspire young musicians and fans.  Members of The Spirit of the West are afforded a sense of belonging and are challenged physically, mentally, musically and socially. 


This high-profile ensemble gives students a great opportunity to exemplify MSU values as delineated in the University’s strategic plan.


Excellence: We believe in challenging ourselves and our students in the pursuit of the highest quality in all that we do.

Integrity: We value honesty and professionalism in all of our work. We also believe that each of us is personally accountable for our work and our behavior.


Participation as a band member demands dedication and perseverance as it broadens students’ artistic and social perspectives, building self-assurance and loyalty to the band and ultimately to MSU.


Through a common love of music and performance, participating in the MSU marching band brings together students from all campus disciplines to be a part of something bigger than themselves. This four-year commitment offers leadership opportunities, teaches students how to work as a team with discipline and how to juggle responsibilities.  According to band alumni, it is an experience that builds camaraderie and lifelong friendships among people from very different backgrounds with unique career interests. For many band alumni, it helped shaped the individuals they have become and when they look back on their college days, marching band was one of the most important and enjoyable experiences they had at MSU. 


At its peak in 1988, the MSU Marching Band had approximately 120 members. However, in the time since, numbers have dwindled. In 2011, membership totaled 73 students. Through a new University initiative entitled “Expand the Band,” we intend to reverse this trend. With the generated excitement of recent success of the MSU football team, the timing is right. As the football team and its award winning coach, Rob Ash, reach even greater levels of excellence, we need to match that success with a commensurate marching band.  It is important for MSU to recruit incoming students and build a marching band that offers an exciting experience and unique opportunities for talented musicians who in turn are inspired to stay in the band all four years of college.


The immediate goals of the MSU Spirit of the West are:

  • Increasing recruitment activities both in- and out-of-state
  • Offering students more incentives to join the band that will include scholarships, opportunities to perform at away games and high profile parades.
  • Purchasing new instruments and equipment for the current band, including 6 – 8 sousaphones (wrap around tuba)
  • A travel budget for away games
  • A new vehicle to haul instruments – a U-Haul style truck or trailer would be ideal


Additionally, the MSU Spirit of the West has long-term goals including:

  • Doubling the size of the band to 150 over 3 years
  • Purchase and replenishment of instruments to accommodate a larger band 
  • New and updated uniforms
  • Hosting a High School Marching Band Festival at MSU
  • Faculty support for an Associate Director of Bands position to assist with rehearsal and recruiting
  • Heated band hospitality area located at the stadium
Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal

The broader impacts and benefits of this proposal include: 1 the successful recruitment of a greater number of students to MSU in all majors who will make connections academically, socially and musically; 2 the broadening of the game day experience to more than just football; 3 the positive contribution to the image of excellence at MSU that has been growing in many areas; 4 the successful retention and success of our students through a positive extra-curricular experience; 5 improving the view of future alumni as they look back on a wonderful experience performing in the band at MSU; 6 increasing the number of alumni who can look back on this experience; 7 providing the community with impactful outreach at many events beyond football and basketball games.

Implementation Plan

We anticipate stepping up the recruiting effort for 2013 band members as soon as this money is released, so that we can reach an ambitious goal of going from 85 to 110 for next fall.  This will involve trips by the director, faculty and small groups within Montana and in other strategic locations to recruit students to the band.  Another major facet of the recruiting effort in the second half of FY13 will be to publicize the increased scholarship amounts to students who are considering coming to MSU.  

Due to the time frame of the release of funds, some of the FY13 operations money will have to be spent on materials and supplies in anticipation of the larger band.  

Assessment Plan

The assessment plan is fairly simple since the proposal contains numerical targets.  We will have succeeded if we have 110 members enrolled in the marching band (including color guard and student leaders) by census date in Fall 2013. The second milestone will be census date in Fall 2014, at which point we will have succeeded if we have 130 enrolled. The third milestone will be census date in Fall 2015, at which point we will have succeeded if we have 150 enrolled. 

If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?

If assessed objectives are not met, the music, CAA and university leadership will need to meet and discuss why they were not met, and decide on a strategy for moving forward.  Certainly, sunsetting this proposal would have the opposite effect of the desired goals.  Instead of sunsetting the proposal, changes would need to be made.

Department Head: Gregory Young (
Dean/Director: Nancy Cornwell (
Executive/VP: Martha Potvin (