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Aug. 30, 2023

Student view: Setting the standard in the Spartan Marching Band

Samantha Barringer is a fifth-year music education major in the College of Music and Honors College member. This is Barringer’s fourth year as a drum major in the Spartan Marching Band. Lacy Jewell is a fourth-year music education major in the College of Music and Honors College member. This is Jewell’s first year as a drum major. In 2020, Barringer joined senior drum major Lisa Lachowski, making them the first two women to lead as drum majors in SMB history. Barringer had two solo years before Jewell joined her, making it just the second time since the band began in 1870 that two women are drum majors.

We feel so grateful to be the ones to fill this role of drum majors. The members of the Spartan Marching Band are incredible, and getting to work with them, help them improve and learn from them is unmatched.

For me, (Lacy), becoming a drum major this season was a full circle moment. I grew up only 20 minutes away from campus and I always looked up to the MSU drum majors and couldn’t wait to see them on game days. Getting to do this job with Samantha is absolutely an immense honor.

In our role, we assist the SMB directors. Some of the duties we share include being an officer (administrator of the band), avid marchers, teachers, and, lastly, a few of the many leaders of the band. The Spartan drum major's position is unique, however: we don't conduct, rather we are the main "model" for all marching. All our work surrounds helping others become better marchers.

So instead of being on a podium, we are on the field marching with our colleagues.

Samantha Barringer, in the forefront, and Lacy Jewell, behind, march on a field.
Samantha Barringer, front and Lacy Jewell, back, march on a practice field. Photo by Nick Schrader

The SMB was originally a military band. We have traditions in our band that stayed in a militaristic style such as our discipline, our uniforms and level of excellence that we uphold because of who came before us. As drum majors, we are the catalysts for this standard.

Our marching band practices are a little different from the others in the band. During sectionals, we head to Munn field and either write our drill for the next halftime show, practice knowing the tempo changes in each halftime tune, practice any pregame sequences, work on our marching fundamentals or meet with other members and help them improve their marching. During rehearsal, we are either repping halftime or pregame with the band or walking around and helping others with a specific marching transition or dot placement.

It’s a privilege to be a member of the band and keep these traditions alive. The growing alumni community provides opportunities for us to do what we love and the Spartan legacy in general makes us proud to be Spartans and represent our school.

We both have dreamed of attending this school and joining the band since we were little. We are very grateful for every moment in this band and in this university.

So, what comes after this marching band season for us?

For me (Samantha), I am looking forward to student-teaching middle school in the spring and graduating! I am excited to enjoy this last marching band season with Lacy, and I’m excited to start job hunting and teach middle school band.

For me (Lacy), I have one more season of being a drum major and a percussionist in the College of Music to look forward to! I’m so excited to continue learning from and getting to know Samantha!

Check out a behind-the-scenes look at a Spartan Marching Band practice.

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