About the Miami University Marching Band
The Miami University Marching Band was formed in the 1930’s under the direction of A.D. Lekvold. He was director of bands from 1936 to the 1960’s. Their first uniforms consisted of white trousers, red capes, and red coats.
In 1951, Nicholas Poccia became a faculty member in the School of Music. He was responsible for private instruction for all brass instruments, taught music theory, and conducted the varsity band which met during the second semester of the school year. Around 1953, he began to volunteer his time and assist A.K. Lekvold with the marching band. At that time, the band was practicing where Reid Hall stands today, on East Quad; eventually they began practicing at McGuffey Field along the east side of Campus Ave. south of Spring St. They used to store their equipment in an old army barricks near Benton (Hall) Auditorium called Building Nine.
During the 50’s the band was 96 in number and would take two road trips a year; one to Bowling Green and one to Ohio University, and of course, if the traditional UC game was not played at home, they would travel to Cincinnati. 1955 was the beginning of Band Day; the first one consisted of 35-38 bands. It was around this time the Shakerettes, the drill team, and majorettes appeared.
Nicholas Poccia became director of the marching band in 1960. At that time, he had one or two graduate assistants. They moved everything into Hall Auditorium, and enlarged the band from 96 to 144 students. Surprisingly enough, over 200 people were involved in the marching band, and those who didn’t march were alternates. Competition for spots was intense. The band also received new uniforms consisting of red coats and gray trousers.
1968 was an important year for the marching band and the music department. This year is when the Center for Performing Arts was built. Poccia and the department chair worked closely in designing the building. Once in the CPA, the marching band began to practice where we currently practice.
During this time the band would do a new pregame every weekend with the exception of spelling out ‘Miami’ on the field. Each week they would learn 6 -7 new tunes, and believe it or not, they would face the student section for the majority of the show. The band would also do dancing and drill more similar to Ohio University’s Marching 110.
The late 60’s brought the marching band new uniforms consisting of blue uniforms with a big ‘M’ on the front and an Indian on the back. In 1971, the Miami Marching Machine came into existence. The Marching Machine was built by Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma and was a birthday gift to Nick from the marching band. The Marching Machine was a tank-like structure placed over Dr. Clay’s (the Tuba instructor) VW bug, and it became the mascot of the band. It was always at the head of all the parades and even made an appearance at a Bengals game. Mr. Poccia and his wife were in the kitchen when they heard the sounds of the marching band coming down their street, and leading the way, was the Marching Machine. The Marching Machine remained an integral part of the marching band until 1979.
In 1978, Dr. Jack Liles became director of the band. Dr. Liles made a significant impact on the style of marching the band would use. MUMB took on the “drum corps” style vs. the dance style of marching. The color guard was introduced to the band, keeping with current trends in marching bands around the nation. The 1980’s were a huge growth period for the band, not only in quantity, but quality. Dr. Liles expected the best, and he received the best. Gradually, the band reached a status of high demand for contests, festivals, and parades all over the Midwest.
In the spring of 1999, Mr. David Shaffer, our previous Assistant Director and Chief Composer/Arranger, was appointed director of the marching band. Mr. Shaffer was Chief Arranger during Dr. Liles’ 20 years with the marching band. In the early 90’s, Mr. Shaffer increased his involvement with the band and became the Assistant Director. His experience in public music education, composition, and arranging continued the excellent traditions of the Miami Marching Band. During Mr. Shaffer’s tenure as director, The Marching Band performed at the 2003 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and 2 Football Bowl games (2003 GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and 2004 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana).