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Mighty Sound of Maryland

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Title: Mighty Sound of Maryland  
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Subject: Old Byrd Stadium, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland–Penn State football rivalry, Maryland–West Virginia football rivalry, University of Maryland Security Operations Center
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Mighty Sound of Maryland

The Mighty Sound of Maryland
School University of Maryland
Location College Park, MD
Conference Big Ten Conference
Founded 1908
Director Dr. L. Richmond Sparks (Director of Bands)
Assistant director Eli Osterloh (Assistant Director of Athletic Bands)
Members 250
Fight song "The Victory Song (The University recognizes two songs. This is what is used primarily at sporting events, but is technically known as the Victory Song.)"
Uniform Red, White, Black, and Gold.
White jacket with gold sash, band and university logos, black citation bands. All black trousers with black patent leather Dinkles. Black shako with black & gold plume. Red and gold double-sided cape.
Website Mighty Sound of Maryland Marching Band

The Mighty Sound of Maryland is the official marching band of the University of Maryland. It was founded in 1908 at what was then known as the Maryland Agricultural College.

The band performs pregame and halftime shows at all Maryland Terrapins football home games, and travels to at least one away game each year.


For 50 years prior to 1909, the military-style college heard music by the Cadet Corps Drum and Buglers. Then, in 1909, the Maryland Agricultural College prevailed upon Mr. Levi G. Smith, a local violinist, to organize and conduct a band capable of playing for all formal U.S. Army Band, was appointed the first full-time director admitted to the faculty of the University of Maryland.

In 1924, the old football stadium was built. It occupied the location where Fraternity Row now stands. The stadium was razed in 1953 so that construction of Frat Row could begin. Women were allowed in the concert bands for the first time in 1937.

Mr. Frank V. Sykora, a graduate of the Imperial Russian Conservatory, directed the bands from 1947-1949. During his tenure, the size of the bands grew to over 100 members and began extensive traveling.

In 1950, the football arena, Byrd Stadium, opened with a win over Navy, and the band was fortunate to gain the guidance of Warrant Officer Robert L. Landers, the conductor of the world renowned "Singing Sergeants" as well as the Maryland Red and White Band.

The Music Department at Maryland was established in 1954, led by Homer Ulrich. The university hired Ulrich as the first full-time band director to be member of the music faculty.

Hubert Henderson, hired in 1955, established the band in the Music Department and integrated it as an ensemble (both marching and concert) in the music performance and music education programs. He was assisted by associate directors Norman Heim, Henry Romersa and Acton Ostling, Jr.

Queen Elizabeth visited the campus while touring the U.S.A. in 1957.[1] Her visit was so important that the band was given $10,000 to purchase new uniforms to be used at the football game that she attended.

Henderson left in 1965 and Ostling became the director of bands. John Wakefield was hired to work with Ostling as associate director. When Ostling left in 1968, Wakefield became the director of bands. With the help of associate directors Fred Heath, Jerry Gardner, Dieter Zimmer and L. Richmond Sparks, Wakefield has led the bands to the superior ensembles they are today.

In August 2000, the bands moved from their old home of Tawes Fine Arts Building into the brand new state of the art Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. In September 2001, the new band room was dedicated to Mr. John E. Wakefield, Director of Bands, in appreciation of all his hard work and dedication to the University of Maryland Band Program. In November of that year the Mighty Sound of Maryland marched in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

During Early Week (band camp) of 2006, Dr. Sparks introduced the idea of a volunteer trip to New Orleans to the band. The idea was met with much enthusiasm and excitement, and on September 9, 2006 the band played a New Orleans Tribute halftime show. After finishing on the field, each member of the band took to the stands to collect donations in their shakos to help fund a service trip to New Orleans over winter break. In the third quarter of the game over $25,000 was raised. By the end of the semester, over $50,000 had been raised to fund the band's trip. After a long bus ride, over 240 members of the band spent a week in New Orleans building houses with Habitat for Humanity at the Musicians' Village Project. While in Louisiana, the band also performed for Habitat for Humanity volunteers, at Gallier Hall for the mayor, and at the Krewe of Alla's Mardi Gras kickoff parade in Gretna, LA.[2]

In the Fall of 2008, the Maryland band program celebrated its 100th anniversary.[3]

In 2010, the Mighty Sound of Maryland won CBS's Hawaii Five-0 theme song contest, gaining a prize of $25,000 for the band program. Part of their recorded performance of the theme was also aired on CBS during the show.[4]

The Mighty Sound of Maryland marched in the 2013 inauguration parade for President Barack Obama. The band was selected from over 2,800 other applicants and marked the fourth time they had participated in an inaugural parade.[5]




The Truck is a cadence played by the drumline and choreographed by the band when in marching formation. Individual sections have different "lyrics" to the Truck.

Block and Mess is one of the signatures of the Mighty Sound of Maryland's pregame show. It involves all wind players sans tubas forming a block and then running through it at over 250 beats per minute.

The World's Largest Maryland State Flag is unfurled during the Crown Imperial finale of every pregame show. The flag, which measures about twenty yards, is accompanied by a cannon blast as it is opened.


The Bone Cheer is performed by KAOS, the trombone and baritone section, usually once per game. The cheer involves the section alone playing a song and the rest of the band yelling "Go! Fight! Win!" Once the cheer ends, the Tenor Sax Challenge begins, in which tenor saxophone players hold up their instruments from the base using only one hand for as long as they can.

Another KAOS cheer is performing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.

The Mello Cheer is performed by the band's mellophone section. The section plays concert F quarter notes for as many points as the football team has scored while the rest of the band counts. For this reason, the cheer is usually only played when the Terps score a large amount of points.

The Amen Chorus was played at the end of victories, accompanied loudly by students and fans. It was considered a tradition unique to the University of Maryland. It was discontinued in the late 80's.

Following every victory, the band plays Battle Hymn from the film Gladiator after playing the school's Alma Mater.

Rock and Roll Part II was played following touchdowns and other big plays to energize the crowd. Due to the student section's improvised lyrics - and the university's concerns about sportsmanship and its image - the band was forbidden from playing the song at all football and basketball games in 2004.[6]


  1. ^ "50 Years of Memories - The Queen's Game" (Press release). University of Maryland Newsdesk. September 28, 2007. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Mighty Sound of Maryland Helps Katrina Victims Rebuild" (Press release). University of Maryland Newsdesk. January 4, 2007. Retrieved May 22, 2011. 
  3. ^ Worsley, Ben (27 October 2008). "March of the Mighty". The Diamondback. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND WINS "CBS's HAWAII FIVE-0 MARCHING BAND MANIA" CONTEST" (Press release). Network TV. October 12, 2010. Retrieved November 29, 2011. 
  5. ^ "President Obama Will March To The Mighty Sound Of Maryland". WJZ. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Schneider, Jeremy (3 February 2011). "For one night, Terps ‘Rock and Roll’ again". The Diamondback. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 

External links

  • University of Maryland Traditional Songs - Lyrics and Performed Versions
  • University of Maryland Bands Website
  • University of Maryland Band Alumni
  • Tau Beta Sigma-Beta Eta, Maryland's Honorary Band Sorority
  • Kappa Kappa Psi-Gamma Xi, Maryland's Honorary Band Fraternity
  • Amen Chorus, discontinued
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