The Notre Dame Marching Band

ND Band spells out Irish
The Band spells out "Irish" during its traditional pregame routine.

The Notre Dame Marching Band is like no other. Each year the Band of the Fighting Irish performs for hundreds of thousands of college football fans and is seen by millions more on national television. At Notre Dame it wouldn’t be a football game without the Band. The Band was there for the very first football game against Michigan in 1887 and has been on hand for every home game (659 games through the 2021 season) and numerous away games, pep rallies and bowl games ever since.

The 380+ members of the Marching Band come from all across America and overseas and represent every academic major on campus. Made up of Notre Dame’s finest, Band members are recognized each year as distinguished graduates in their respective fields of study.

The Band prepares to run out of the tunnel at Notre Dame stadium

On Saturday morning, the band assembles at the Band Building for breakfast followed by a march around campus as a ceremonial “wake-up” for the students. The march out ends at the Loftus Sports Center (Notre Dame’s indoor football facility) for a rehearsal of the game-day performance. After a brief meeting and prayer, band members have a break to eat lunch and change into their uniforms.

Thousands of fans, both with and without game tickets, follow the Band to the steps of Bond Hall for the tradition-filled “Concert on the Steps.” With kickoff nearing, Irish pride is stirred as the band plays all the Notre Dame football songs plus the day’s half time music. Fans who stay at Bond Hall after the concert are treated to the thundering sound of the Notre Dame Drummer’s Circle, hundreds of others enjoy the Victory March and Notre Dame Our Mother (the alma mater) played by the “Trumpets at the Dome,” and still others around campus are able to witness each section’s unique pre-game rituals and traditions. The crowds gather around the Golden Dome for the Band step-off, and line the sidewalks as the band marches to the stadium.

In recent years the marching band has performed at the Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Gator Bowl, and the National Championship, plus performing at away games including trips to Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee, Florida State, and USC. In addition to the home performances, the band has performed at Notre Dame’s “neutral site home games” in San Antonio, New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, and Dallas.

The Marching Band rehearses Monday through Thursday from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Fridays before home games include a marchout at 4:30 p.m from the Main Building, a rehearsal at 4:45 p.m., and sometimes a pep rally at 6:30 p.m.

ND Concert Bands and Jazz Bands

Combined Concert Bands Perform at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center

Notre Dame has a rich tradition of concert performance. Annually, more than 200 student musicians participate in the three concert bands at Notre Dame. Throughout the year the groups perform several concerts and provide music for the annual commencement exercises.

The concert bands perform in the beautiful Leighton Concert Hall at the Marie P. DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. This state of the art facility is recognized as one of the finest performing arts centers in the nation. The acoustics in the Leighton Concert Hall are among the best in the world.

The concert bands tour both domestically and internationally. Recent international tours have included performances in the Sydney Opera House, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, the Beijing Concert Hall, and the Teatro Amazonas in Brazil. Domestically, the band has completed concert tours through California, throughout the midwest, Pittsburgh, and performed in some the United States’ finest concert halls like Severance Hall in Cleveland and New York City’s world-renowned Carnegie Hall.

About the Concert Bands

Notre Dame Band at Carnegie Hall
Notre Dame Band on Stage at Carnegie hall

Fall Symphonic Winds

The Fall Symphonic Winds concert band rehearses on Thursdays at 5:00 during the fall semester. Typically between 65 and 75 students will perform in the Fall Winds, and all must audition to participate in the group. It is comprised of the University’s finest wind and percussion performers and performs one concert during the semester.

Fall Concert Band

The Fall Concert Band rehearses on Thursdays at 5:00 during the fall semester. This group features between 90 and 100 students, selected by audition. The group performs one concert during the fall semester.

Spring Symphonic Band

The Symphonic Band rehearses Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:00 p.m. during the spring semester. The ensemble performs two concerts during the semester. This band performs the latest in concert band repertoire along with a variety of band classics. Symphonic Band members demonstrating significant service to the band are eligible to be selected for overseas travel.

Spring Symphonic Winds

The Symphonic Winds rehearse Mondays and Wednesdays during the Spring Semester at 5:00 p.m. and is the premier wind and percussion ensemble at Notre Dame. Along with the Symphonic Band, it performs two concerts during the semester. The Symphonic Winds plays the finest selections in concert band literature. Members of the Symphonic Winds, demonstrating significant service to the band, are eligible to be selected for overseas travel.

University Band

The University Band is a full concert band open to all Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College students, graduate students, staff, and alumni. No audition is required. This ensemble provides a relaxing traditional concert band experience for brass, woodwind, and percussion players in the greater Notre Dame community. The band rehearses on Monday evenings and performs one concert at the end of each academic term.

Jazz Bands

ND Jazz Band at DeBartolo Performing Arts Center
Jazz Band 1 at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center

The University of Notre Dame has three jazz ensembles: two full Jazz Bands and the New Orleans Brass Band. Each year the groups perform at several concerts on campus and also on a spring concert tour. The Jazz Bands help host  the oldest annual college jazz event in the United States, which features excellent jazz groups from universities across the United States and world-class professional judges, in recent years including John Clayton, Jeff Clayton, Terell Stafford, Marvin Stamm, Jon Faddis, Nnenna Freelon, Peter Erskine, Jim McNeely, Jamey Aebersold, and James Carter.
ND Collegiate Jazz Festival
Jazz Band Performs at the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival

The two Jazz Bands each have 5 saxes, 5 trumpets, 4 trombones, piano, bass, guitar, drums, and vocalist. The New Orleans Brass Band has 3 saxes, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, sousaphone, guitar/banjo, and drums. Both Jazz Band 1 and 2 perform a wide variety of music, ranging from Duke Ellington and Count Basie standards to the original charts from bands such as Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis, Clayton-Hamilton, and Gordon Goodwin, as well as contemporary music of interest.The Brass Band plays new arrangements in the style of such groups as the Youngblood Brass Band and the Rebirth Brass Band.

Jazz Band auditions are held annually on the first Sunday afternoon after school begins in August, with preference given to members of the Notre Dame Marching Band. The jazz band audition consists of playing two songs, one slow and one fast. There are spots in the songs where students can improvise, if they are able to do so; if not, they can simply play the written melody. Most players in Jazz Band 1 and the Brass Band, and many in Jazz Band 2, can improvise. During the spring semester a Jazz Improvisation class is offered for those who wish to develop improvisation skills.

Jazz Band 1 rehearses on Mondays from 8:15 to 9:15 p.m. in the fall, and from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the spring. Jazz Band 2 rehearses on Wednesdays, from 8:15 to 9:15 p.m. in the fall and from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the spring. The New Orleans Brass Band rehearses one hour each week at a time convenient to its members.

The Jazz Bands are directed by Larry Dwyer and Matt Merten.

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