The Eastern Michigan University Marching Band, formally the Michigan State Normal College Band, was organized in 1924 by Mathematics Professor J.F. Barnhill as an ensemble within the Normal Conservatory of Music (est. 1881 – Professor Frederic Pease, Director). Prior to its official formation, marching band was a student-funded extra-curricular activity that performed in parades, concerts, and athletic events. Professor Barnhill brought Captain Wilfred Wilson, conductor of the Michigan Band, to the Ypsilanti campus as the first Director of the marching band. The first recorded mention of the “Huron Band” was on October 31, 1925, when 48 uniformed bandmen paraded the streets of Ypsilanti and later played at the Normal-Kalamazoo College football game. Captain Wilson prospered in his role with his most notable achievement being the establishment of a Girls’ Varsity Band.
By 1940, marching band was a required two-credit activity for all male band and orchestra students, likely due to World War II when the band was inactive. After the War, Dr. William D. Fitch was appointed Director, and through his skill and musicianship, the marching band rose to new heights of achievement. Mitchell M. Osadchuck, who was appointed Director after Fitch, appears in the Eastern Echo (EMU’s newspaper) with the “EMU Marching Band.” In an interview, he says “the band is above average but could use more players, more time to rehearse, a better rehearsal schedule, and an answer to conflicts with other classes and personnel.” Osadchuck paved the way for his successor, Thomas Tyra, whose directorship proved to be a significant turning point in the band’s history. In addition, to introducing many traditional band cheers, stand tunes, and traditions like Go Green and the current version of Our Pledge (the University Alma Mater), Tyra was also responsible for chartering the Delta Upsilon Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi and the Gamma Rho Chapter of Tau Beta Sigma, and growing the marching band to a record size.
Now in its 126th Season, the “Pride of the Peninsula” is comprised of a diverse group of graduate and undergraduate students from every academic major on campus. Considered a source of spirit and pride on campus, the Eastern Michigan University Marching Band is dedicated to enriching the lives and opportunities of its members, the university, and the community. We are committed to providing an environment that is safe, respectful, and inclusive - all are welcome to be a part of our organization. Through our performances, we seek to create exhilarating and memorable experiences for our stakeholders while also providing a spirit-filled atmosphere in support of the success of our athletic teams.