The Montana State University “Spirit of the West” Marching Band is dedicated to creating great experiences for our members. Our mission, to enrich the lives or our students through musical performance, choreography, and camaraderie, remains steadfast even in times of uncertainty such as we are experiencing with the onset of COVID-19.

It is our desire—and is our plan—to continue our legacy of marching into the fall 2020 semester. We believe that the band provides more than simply a place to play an instrument or spin a flag. The SotW is a place for our members to meet new friends and have new experiences. We will continue to provide these important opportunities to our members to the best of our ability this coming season.

The atmosphere surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic will present our band with numerous challenges. It is paramount that our students remain safe and well so we can focus on our many academic pursuits while studying at Montana State. Face-to-face instructional time, along with hands-on experience with specialized equipment and software, will be our most valuable resource this coming semester. To maximize this time, the “Spirit of the West” will be implementing the following procedures to reduce any potential exposure to COVID-19:

  • Safe distancing during rehearsals, meetings, and performances.
  • Remain outdoors as much as possible
  • Limitations to camp-related activities that make distancing impractical or impossible
  • Use of face-masks for times when six-foot minimum distancing is difficult to maintain
  • Sanitizing stations/teams to keep equipment clean
  • Updates to practices to reflect our newest understanding of how the virus spreads
  • Flexible rehearsal/performance goals
  • At all times meet the requirements set by MSU related to COVID-19

We ask that ALL members—both new and returners—understand and accept that the conditions related to COVID-19 are ever-changing. Expect significant limitations to our operations which will result in some very different looking (and feeling) rehearsals and performances. It is also possible that our access to resources and funding will be somewhat limited this fall.

Exactly how this will translate into the member experience is uncertain, but know this: It has always been the spirit of our members that has defined our band, and that will never change. We are truly in historic times. Someday, there will be band members who only hear stories of “what we did in 2020.” Each and every one of our current students will live through it and tell the tale.



Joining the band for 2020

All band members MUST do the following to join the band for 2020:

1. Complete the Membership Agreement (priority consideration by noon on July 10)
2. Enroll in MUSI 155 (must be enrolled by August 7th)
3. Attend Band Camp and pass tryouts

Due to the increased amount of prepartions required for camp this season, all members are asked to complete the Membership Agreement by noon on Firday, July 10th. Regardless of year in the band or leadership status, these students will recieve priority consideration for a place in the 2020 SotW. 

Screening Auditions

Incoming students may be required to complete a screening audition prior to coming to camp. This is NOT a replacement for in-person tryouts/auditions, but is intended to inform students of their potential placement in the band berfore arriving on campus. Prospective students will be notified via email if a screening audition is required of them.

Attendance Policy

Given appropriate communcation and circumstances, students who are absent due to COVID-19 illness or quarentine will not be penalized for absences from rehearsal or performances. However, students who elect to not attend rehearsals due to voluntary shelter-in-place will be held to our grading/attendance policy.

COVID-19 is a serious illness that can severely impact someone with a compromised immune system. The SotW STRONGLY discourages anyone with an existing health condition that might be aggravated by COVID-19 from joining the marching band. Band members who choose to voluntarily shelter-in-place for long stretches of time during the season may be required to drop the course and forfeit their scholarship for the season. .

First-Yearm Member Registration

We will be holding 90-minute band registration sessions on Tuesday, August 11th. All new members must attend one session on this day to join the band. You may bring ONE parent with you (not required). Space is limited to 15 students per session. 

This will be your ONLY band-related obligation on Tuesday. You may attend band registration either before or after you move-in to your dorm room. Please note that wearing face masks is expected when inside MSU buildings, and is required of all band members when directed to do so. 

Reserve a time for band registration on Tuesday, August 11th by completeing our Membership Agreement.

Meals and Snacks

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the band will NOT be supply any food during band camp. University Dining Halls will be open. There are several options for food withing a short walk of Howard Hall. There will be ample time for meals scheduled during camp.

Safe-distancing, sanitizing, and use of face masks are REQUIRED for band members

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect our daily rehearsals, operations, and performances. All members will be REQUIRED to engage in safe distancing, sanitizing, and mask-wearing during the season. Any student who is found neglecting required COVID-related precautions during any band-related event (including travelling and from rehearsal/performances/etc.) will be immediately asked to leave the event, accruing an unexcused absence. Multiple violations may result in outright dismissal from the band, loss of grade and/or scholarship. 

If it is your intention to challenge this requirement, or if you feel uncomfortable with being asked to wear a face mask, then we humbly request that you not join the SotW this year. Thank you.

Non-scholarship "participatory membership"

We are considering allowing students to join the marching band as "participatory members" with only a fraction of the requirements and time commitment. These students would only be required to attend music rehearsals on Mondays, would not march or perform, and would not need to audition/tryout to play. As such, these students would NOT receive their base marching band scholarship, but would be eligible to receive a $500 "longevity bonus" in fall of 2021 if they become full members in that term.

Football performance schedule

The proximity of our Cat/Griz rivalry game to MSU finals week will likely result in no SotW presence in Missoula this year. As of July 1, the Big Sky has not revealed any plans for how schools will handle athletic events during the pandemic. Our Important Dates Webpage has been updated to reflect the most current infomation we have. Please put these dates on your schedules for fall 2020, but plan on some changes to occur in the coming weeks.