The Hub Of SMU Spirit: Mustang Band Keeps Tradition Marching On

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They are the first students to arrive in the stands at Ford Stadium and the last to leave. Their spirit and traditions rival any campus organization.

Meet the hub of SMU spirit – the Mustang Band, making music since 1917.

On a typical February afternoon, associate band director Tommy Tucker ’84 rolls up his sleeves to lead a practice in the Mustang Band Hall, located behind Perkins Natatorium. Students file down the ramp into the red and blue band headquarters where Tucker leads the band into the beginning notes of Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney and Wings.

Band members practice five hours a week in addition to game day commitments. Most band members and the twirler are supported by scholarships.
“We take a lot of pride in our performances,” says drum major Bryan Melton, a senior mechanical engineering and mathematics major. “Most of us are in the band because we enjoy it, not because it is required for our majors.&rdqou;

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Even twirler Kayli Mickey puts aside her baton after football season and picks up her French horn to perform with the band during basketball games.

The 78-member Mustang Band prides itself on its uniqueness among other
university bands as well as among SMU student organizations.

“The band has always been small,” says director Don Hopkins ’82. “But with all the brass and saxophones, we hold our own.”
Since the 1920s the band has specialized in jazz, dressed in slacks and blazers for football halftime shows and performed music arranged specifically for it.

“Our only stock arrangement is the national anthem,” says Tucker, who has created hundreds of arrangements beginning in his student band days in the early 1970s. “You may hear the same song, but you won’t hear the same arrangement anywhere else.”

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Group bonding occurs before classes start in the fall when members arrive on campus early to begin practice. “In a few weeks, freshmen go from timid newcomers to part of a group of 78 friends,” says trumpet player Cal Smellage, senior engineering management, information and systems major.

For many, that bond lasts a lifetime. Members of the Mustang Alumni Band practice weekly and perform on The Boulevard before home football games and at basketball games.

Hopkins, who played trombone in the Mustang Band, says, “These kids have as much commitment to each other as we did when I was in the band.”

Nancy Lowell George ’79

1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Carolyn Saunders Jones December 15, 2009

    Several times I have read the history of the Mustang Band and find an important piece of the history missing.
    I was one of six twirlers in the early fifties. We had a specialty twirler, Billie Biggs, but there were six other twirlers. If you will refer to those early fifties yearbooks you will find all seven of us.

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