Dave Woodley, director of athletic bands, recently accepted the Sudler Trophy on behalf of the “Marching Hundred.” Here, he shares his inspirations, band traditions and advice.
Recently, Halftime Magazine caught up with Dave Woodley, director of athletic bands at Indiana University in Bloomington. Celebrating its 111th anniversary, the “Marching Hundred” won the 2007 Sudler Trophy, widely considered the Heisman Trophy for bands. This annual award honors a college marching band that has demonstrated the highest standards in music and marching and has made important contributions to the advancement of college marching bands over a period of years.
Here’s what Woodley had to say about his band, his 14 years of experience as a college marching band director, and how he thinks students should put band into perspective.
Halftime: So, why did you decide to become a band director?
Woodley: I’ve always been interested in sports, both playing and watching, and I like the way bands interact with athletics. Bands are the entertainment and spirit at football games, and I’ve always liked that.
Halftime: Who has influenced you?
Woodley: I was a trombone player at the University of Iowa [Hawkeye Marching Band], originally, and then I got my masters in wind conducting there. My college marching band director had a big influence on me—he gave me many opportunities to write musical arrangements for the band. He gave me my start.
Halftime: Tell me about the band. How did the “Marching Hundred” get its name?
Woodley: Well, the “Marching Hundred” was officially started in 1896 as a 22-piece band. In 1920, it grew to about 100 people, and that’s when our name came around. We were one of the first bands to march in rows of 10 by 10, and when an East Coast reporter nicknamed us “the Marching Hundred,” we just kept that title.
Halftime: Are there 100 students in the band now?
Woodley: No, there are about 250 kids now. Our highest number was 320.
Halftime: What kinds of events have you and your students been able to participate in recently?
Woodley: We play for men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, and football. Our football team isn’t great, but we’re hoping to get to a bowl game soon. If we do go, we’ll be ready. We play in the IU homecoming parades, and for the past couple of years, we’ve been invited to perform for the Indianapolis Colts during halftime. Also, we try to attend high school marching band exhibition shows every year—they are a great recruiting tool for us.
Halftime: The “Marching Hundred” must have been so excited to win the Sudler Trophy this year. Will you tell us a little bit about why your band won the award?
Woodley: Sure. For a long time, our band has been seen as really successful. That’s why we were awarded the Sudler Trophy, which all Division I college band directors in the country vote on. It’s a good award for us because we’ve been able to maintain a high level of achievement over the past several years even though our football team isn’t great.
Halftime: How would you describe Indiana’s style of playing and marching?
Woodley: Playing, to us, is the most important part of what we do. We spend more time on the music than anything else. It’s our priority. We have a big symphonic sound, and we work hard on that every year. Also, we try to put on a different show every game and entertain different segments of the audience. We’ve performed pop, rock and jazz.
Halftime: Is that why the band can record its albums live—because music is your strong point?
Woodley: Yes. We make a CD every three years by taking the best tracks from indoor concerts that we record in our basketball arena. We play well enough live that we can put those songs onto albums. Most band directors around the country would say that we are known for our music. It’s long been one of our strengths, and we are very proud of it.
Halftime: Can you name a few “Marching Hundred” traditions?
Woodley: For decades, we have made a monogram “IU” on the field during our pregame show. Then, at the end of the show, we spell out “INDIANA,” which floats down the field from end zone to end zone. Another big tradition is that we’ve been playing “Sing, Sing, Sing” with a big drum solo in the middle for 30 years. Each year, the drum line invents its own new solo.
Halftime: What do you love most about your job?
Woodley: The best part is that it’s fun to work with college-aged students. Since the Big Ten tradition of band is strong, many of my students have grown up wanting to march and are full of energy. They all have different backgrounds and majors, but they can all come together for one thing.
Halftime: What are a few pearls of advice you’d like to give to marching band students?
Woodley: I would tell incoming college marching band students to keep their minds open and be willing to accept new things. When most kids come to college band, they are so used to high school band that they have trouble transitioning. Also, college band is supposed to be about having fun and supporting a football team. College band is a chance to play for thousands of people every week, but while it requires a lot of hard work, it’s social, too. Fun is the most important thing to get out of college band.
Halftime: What would you say to marching band members in general?
Woodley: Don’t take it too seriously. Although band is fun, it must be kept in perspective. Work hard, but don’t forget—it’s just band.
Photo by Jonny Gilbert. All rights reserved.