Today’s 200-member Marching Band owes a debt of gratitude to the 14 young men who formed the first such ensemble at Northern Illinois State Normal School in 1899.
They weren’t called a “marching” band then, and it’s likely that they didn’t do much marching, but they provided the musical backdrop for football games, pep rallies and socials.
By the 1930s, the band began to resemble the modern day ensemble, taking the field at halftime in parade formation and playing rousing marches to ignite the enthusiasm of the crowd. More importantly, unlike most collegiate bands of that era, the NISNS marching band welcomed women in their ranks many years before that became the norm across the country. By the 1940s, the marching Huskies were undertaking picture formations and precision drill maneuvers.
In 1960, the band was featured in The Instrumentalist magazine (a leading trade journal for school band and orchestra teachers), demonstrating how to design and execute picture formations. It was during this decade that the NIU Marching Band evolved into a mature collegiate ensemble.
The band reorganized in 1974 as the Huskie Show Band, embracing the latest developments and styles of contemporary music. By the 1980s, the Silverettes and Color Guard were added, enhancing the color and sparkle of field performances.
Today, the nearly 200-member Huskie Marching Band performs at all home football games, one away-game, post-season games, local parades, an end-of-season indoor concert, and at a variety of university events. They have played for sold-out crowds at Soldier Field and to even larger audiences on televised games. Members of the marching band, informally known as “The Pride of the Midwest,” attend a week-long band camp before the start of the fall semester, and practice 3 – 4 evenings a week during the school year.
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