John Madden directs the world-renowned Spartan Marching Band at Michigan State University. John is as green and white as they come; he and all his siblings are MSU alumni.
“MSU is my home,” Madden tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis. “I purposely walk ‘beneath the pines’ every day on my way into my Music Building office.
“The Spartan Marching Band is a point of pride for MSU, a hallmark, if you will. And I think all MSU alumni take some ownership in it.”
Madden talks about Spartan Marching Band traditions like the weekly march to the stadium on game days and the weekday practices that attract a crowd of visitors every day. The practices have become “a campus happening.”
“I contend that I might be one of the few professors on campus who has to teach his class in public every day,” jokes Madden.
“There’s nothing better in the fall then hearing the first sound of drums start up in the distance, and the next thing you know football’s around the corner,” Madden says. “I think we all know that without that great football tradition there’d be no band. But it’s really great to be partners with Athletics.
“We have a great fit and Spartan Band tradition, and I wouldn’t change our way of life for anything. It has a belief system and the students who are in it pass this great tradition down every year in the healthiest way; I’m really proud of that.
“They are marking time during their college careers in a place that teaches them so many other life skills. And I think it’s one of the great classes on campus. The diversity of who’s in it is just a great joy!”
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