Tulane University Bands

The Spirit of the Green Wave

Tulane University Marching Band History

The Tulane University Marching Band shares the heritage and lineage of America’s most cherished band traditions.  More than a century ago, marching bands and brass bands incorporated blues and ragtime, the intermingling of which became jazz.  The contemporary TUMB is a descendent of these progenitors, and carries the art form to new horizons as a catalyst for Green Wave spirit!


Tulane Band Directors

1920-1936: Frederick Hard

1936-1938: Maynard J. Klein

1938-1968: John Morrissey

1968-1978: Ted DeMuth

1971-1978: Bruce Pollock

1978-2004: John Dikey

2004-Present: Barry Spanier


The First Bands

1936 Jambalaya

The Music Department as a whole got its start in 1909.  Music Department papers list performances as early as 1919.  The earliest mention of a University Band is in the 1921 Jambalaya, which states that the Tulane University Band was organized during the 1919-1920 scholastic session by Marx A. Raymon and Harry Wallace.  Evidently they didn't perform much:  "The work of getting the men together, organizing and practicing took up most of the time and very little was heard from the band in public, as a band cannot be made in a day.

"At the beginning of the present session the foundation laid the year before showed good results and the Tulane Band played merrily at every football game under the management of Frank Broussard, holding its own at Baton Rouge against the famous band of the Tigers on Turkey Day.  Since that time it has livened up the basketball games and other student gatherings.

"Since the T.A.A., on account of the financial troubles, could not afford to send the band to Baton Rouge for the Thanksgiving Day game, a subscription was taken among the student body and funding was secured for the purpose."



The first Tulane Marching Band was formed in 1920 as a military band under the direction of Dr. Frederick Hard.  In the yearbook photo for 1920-21 the band is dressed in suits and ties.  In their 1923-24 yearbook photo the band is sporting a traditional Marching Band uniform with tall caps. The text reads:

"With a half-dozen of last year's men as a nucleus, a musical unit was formed this year that was well suited to carry on the traditions of Tulane University.  The largest band in the history of the university; its uniformed musical organization; a band representing Tulane in the carnival parades for the first time; and being, in short, one of the most truly representative activities of the entire school...

"A trip to Montgomery, for the Tulane-Auburn football game, was made by the full Band as its first real activity.  Heretofore, at the close of the football season, the previous Bands have gone out of existence; but, consistent with its program of being a better Tulane Band, the musicians performed upon various occasions throughout the year.

"Under the able direction of Professor {Geo. A.} Paoletti, the Band has made wonderful strides along musical lines, and the untiring efforts of Albert E. Holleman, drum-major, and both Manager Robert G. Polack and his successor, Bennie Cohn, have assured its success."

In 1932 the Tulane Marching Band travelled to Los Angeles to march in the Pasadena Pageant of Roses parade and to support the Green Wave football team in the Rose Bowl football game vs. the USC Trojans.  Although dominating the game statistically, the Green Wave did not get the victory.  However, the experience at the Rose Bowl was a catalyst for the establishment of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
Maynard J. Klein, composer of the Tulane Fight Song, became the band director in 1936.


The Morrissey Era

John Morrissey, Director of Bands at Tulane 1938-1968

John Morrissey was the Band Director at Tulane from 1938 to 1968. During his tenure the band program was highly regarded and all ensembles under his guidance flourished. “Chief”, as he was known, composed and published more than fifty original works for concert band and led performances in McAlister Auditorium to packed audiences each spring. He left a legacy that still resonates today, throughout the region.  His students are among the most loyal of all Tulane alumni.
The contemporary Tulane Band Program presented an historic all-Morrissey concert on Sunday, March 26, 2006 in McAlister Auditorium.  It was the first Tulane music ensemble concert to take place on campus following Hurricane Katrina.  The stage was shared by the New Orleans Concert Band, whose membership includes musicians who studied under Morrissey at Tulane.  Also in attendance for that concert was the Chief’s widow, Mrs. Rosemary Morrissey.
An audio CD of the1940’s-1950’s Tulane Bands playing Morrissey's music was compiled by Don Mackenroth.  Don was a percussionist with the band during those years, and he collected and donated original recordings from that era for digital transfer.  (A CD from those recordings is available for purchase, contact the TUMB at (504) 314-2263 for details.)


30-Year Hiatus

The Louisiana Superdome (Now Mercedes-Benz Superdome) opened in 1975 and the Green Wave football program moved from Tulane Stadium to the new dome for home games. Subsequently, student support and the vitality of the marching band faded. The last time a marching band is mentioned or shown in photographs in the Jambalaya Yearbook is during the 1981-82 school year. In the 1985 yearbook, there is only a pep band shown wearing polo shirts. Other attempts were made to revive the marching band in the 1980s and '90s but none of these efforts were sustained.

In 1992 the Soundwave Pep Band was established as a student club. They have since provided music and spirit for basketball, volleyball, and other athletic and special events

The Modern TUMB

In fall of 2003, the Soundwave Pep Band performed as a sixty-piece marching band ("The Spirit of New Orleans"), directed by student leader Ryan Guillory and comprised of students, alumni, and community volunteers.  It debuted in the Homecoming parade at Tad Gormley Stadium on October 11, 2003 and at the final two home football games that season at the Louisiana Superdome.   To punctuate that historic year, the group marched in its first Mardi Gras parade, Le Krewe D'Etat, on February 20, 2004.  Soundwave was able to rally enthusiasm in the community, and to show the potential of such an ensemble.  This was critical in building support for the return of a marching band to Tulane. 

TUMB 2016 - Photo by Zack Smith Photography

With the momentum that Soundwave had created, the University re-established an official marching band program.  The Newcomb Department of Music provided a home for the new program, authorized it as a credit course, and hired Barry Spanier as Director.  Soundwave donated instruments and equipment that had been purchased through generous donations from alumni and other Tulane fans.  Funds raised specifically for marching band uniforms were also donated to the Department of Music for this purpose.  Mr. Spanier began laying the foundations of the new program in fall 2004 and spring of 2005, purchasing uniforms and instruments, scheduling facilities and fields, getting music arranged and recruiting students for the new endeavor.  With a returning core of Soundwave members and a new freshman class, the first band camp with 25 members was held in late August of 2005.  The final day of band camp was Saturday, August 27.  Hurricane Katrina made landfall two days later.  All of Tulane evacuated from New Orleans and its students spread across the country to attend fall classes at other institutions.  Members of the new TUMB were tracked down and contacted by band staff and student leadership from Soundwave.  It was determined and planned for everyone (who could) to meet in Houston for the Tulane vs. Rice football game on November 12, 2005.  The effort was spearheaded by Ryan Guillory and collaboratively coordinated by the TUMB, Soundwave and SWABO (Soundwave Alumni Band Organization).  With the help of Houston area's New Caney High School which loaned instruments, rehearsal space, and plenty of enthusiastic support, a Tulane Band was able to perform and support the Green Wave football team for the only time that fall season.  This served as the singular opportunity for Tulane students and staff to re-connect and to perform during the Katrina semester, and to keep the momentum going.

Although originally planned for the fall of 2005, it was Mardi Gras 2006 that served as the stage for the modern TUMB to make its inaugural public performance.  It was an emotional time, as the city of New Orleans was still reeling from the devastation of the storm, and the citizenry was desperate for a sense of normalcy and hope for the future.  The TUMB served a vital role in the parade season, as many of the local high school and regional bands were not able to re-organize in time for this first post-Katrina carnival.  With only two weeks to prepare and no prior performance experience as an ensemble, the TUMB pulled together music repertoire, uniform fittings and bus schedules, fueled by enthusiasm and a sense of mission.  Along the parade routes people were emotional and grateful that parades were rolling.  Frequently heard comments such as “I didn’t know that Tulane had a band!” and heartfelt “Thank you for marching today!” came from the crowds.

Since that first year, the Tulane Bands Program now has over 100 members, the largest ever in 2017 and has expanded its operations to include the Green Wave Brass Band, the advisement of the Soundwave Pep Band, Green Wave Winds, and Shockwave Dance Team, the restoration of the Rho Chapter of the Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity, and has a full-time staff consisting of Barry Spanier, Director of Bands; Mendel Lee, Assistant Director of Bands; Andrew Szypula, Percussion Instructor and Operations Manager; and Patricia McWhorter-Broussard, Program Coordinator. The Color Guard is directed by Jakki Kalogridis and the Shockwave Dance Team is directed by Ashley Iserman. 

Check out the TUMB Page for more info on today's Tulane University Marching Band!