UW Marching Band

UW Marching Band spring concert

The Wisconsin Marching Band and Varsity Band play an important role in the excitement of Badger athletics, the vitality of the Madison campus, and the pride of Wisconsin alumni and fans across the state and throughout the country. Most people are surprised to learn that the University of Wisconsin-Madison does not provide funds to meet the cost of such critical items as new instruments and uniforms, which are not a part of the Band’s annual budget. Outside of contributions, the only money available is generated by the Band’s own activities and is used to meet the costs of daily operations.

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However, the lack of institutional dollars is understandable. Current Director of Bands Mike Leckrone, like his predecessor Ray Dvorak, is a professor in the School of Music. Thus, the Band program is technically a part of the School, which must direct its own limited resources to programs for music majors – but few UW Band members are music majors. During the 2007-2008 year, for example, only three of the students in the Marching Band were music majors.

Thus private support is essential for keeping performance quality, showmanship, and energy at the high levels that audiences have always enjoyed from Mike Leckrone and the talented, hard working UW-Madison students who play under his direction. The UW Foundation manages two primary funds for the Varsity Band and the Marching Band – the UW Band Endowment Fund and the Marching Band Fund.

The Marching Band Fund

The Marching Band Fund provides the Director of Bands with some flexibility in responding to unexpected needs and in taking advantage of unanticipated opportunities. Gift dollars are immediately available for use, and support expenditures that enhance and benefit the Marching Band when no other source of funding is available. For example, some contributions to the Marching Band Fund will be used to upgrade the Band’s practice field by installing artificial turf to replace the existing dirt surface, which quickly becomes rutted and difficult to rehearse on when dry and a muddy morass when wet. Gifts to the Marching Band Fund also made it possible for the Band Office to purchase a costly high-capacity copying machine, crucial when new sheet music for several hundred student performers has to be prepared every week. The “extras” made possible by this Fund have a major impact on the Director’s ability to do the best job possible.

UW Band Endowment Fund

The UW Band Endowment Fund offers a permanent source of income for meeting major Band needs that will recur in the future. For example, providing new uniforms and instruments for the students in the Band is one of the most costly of these requirements. While manufacturers estimate the “life” of uniforms and instruments to be seven years, the Band’s careful handling and ongoing maintenance and repair extends their use to a decade – but eventual replacement is certain. Income generated by the UW Band Endowment Fund will guarantee the resources to always meet these and other critical long-term needs, so that Wisconsin’s remains “the best band in the land” for generations to come.

The UW Band Performers’ Fund (“Adopt a Band Member” Program)

Endow each position in the University of Wisconsin Marching Band to permanently meet the costs of “fielding” the student performer who plays in that position, including:

  • Provide a new instrument when needed (generally once every seven to ten years)
  • Instrument maintenance (ongoing) and repair (if necessary)
  • Purchase a new uniform, including rain coat, spats, etc. when needed (generally once every ten years)
  • Uniform cleaning, repair, and alterations (ongoing)
Instrument PositionEndowment Required
Baritone$4,100
Clarinet$3,100
Flugelhorn$3,900
Mellophone$3,800
Alto Sax$4,100
Tenor Sax$4,700
Sousaphone$9,100
Trombone$4,000
Trumpet$3,900
Cymbals$3,000
Bass Drum$3,700
Snare Drum$3,400
Tom-tom trio$3,700