‘A Feather in Our Cap’: Grizzly Marching Band to Host Athletic Band Symposium at UM

The annual Athletic Band Symposium will be held at the University of Montana this week, hosted by the Grizzly Marching Band and the College Band Directors National Association.

By Abigail Lauten-Scrivner, UM News Service

MISSOULA – Marching band directors representing over 100 colleges from across the country will flock to the University of Montana this week to attend the annual Athletic Band Symposium, hosted by the Grizzly Marching Band and the College Band Directors National Association from May 29 to June 1.

This year marks the first time UM will host the symposium in its 20-plus year history, drawing around 200 college band professionals to campus for a series of all-day meetings, workshops, presentations and social events. 

“This is the first time a smaller school has held it. That’s a feather in our cap, to host this national conference,” said Kevin Griggs, UM director of athletic bands and associate director of bands. “It’s a great opportunity for people to come and see what we have to offer here.”

The symposium, which will gather college band representatives from the University of Southern California, Michigan State University, the University of Mississippi, Vanderbilt University and others throughout the nation, offers the chance for professionals in the field to network, discuss various issues and topics, and bounce performance ideas off one another.

Attendees mostly will consist of college band directors, but some industry sponsors, graduate students and UM Grizzly Marching Band members will attend as well. The schedule includes drill writing sessions, a talk on gender inclusivity in athletic bands, an open forum for graduate students and a dialogue on student mental health. 

There’s also a talk on how to reduce damage to instruments caused by in-game pyrotechnics – a natural hazard of the athletic bands trade. 

Held on a different campus each year, the symposium also allows host universities to showcase its band facilities and resources to CBDNA members. Griggs said he was thrilled when UM was selected to host this summer.

“We stack up favorably against pretty much almost anybody in the country – not only the marching band, but the entire game day production and quality of our athletics programs,” Griggs said. “What we’re doing is very much like the bigger schools.”

The symposium will include tours of UM’s band and athletic facilities, like UM’s world-class Washington-Grizzly Champions Center and Stadium  – where the Grizzly Marching Band performs to 26,000-plus spectators – as well as excursions throughout the greater Missoula community and up to Flathead Lake.

The event also is an opportunity for UM to promote its degree programs to other college band professionals with students seeking to continue their education with a graduate degree. UM offers a Master of Music program with advising tracks in performance and composition, as well as a Master of Music Education program. 

The Athletic Band Symposium comes on the heels of a successful year for the Grizzly Marching band, which helped rally the Griz Football Team to the Football Championship Subdivision National Championship last year. The band joined the team in Frisco, Texas after the Griz community helped raise $200,000 to send the band to the big game. 

Fans can expect to see the band out practicing on the River Bowl a week before the fall semester begins in August. To support the Grizzly Marching Band, donations can be made through the University of Montana Foundation.


Contact: Kevin Griggs, UM director of athletic bands and associate director of bands, 406-370-8730, kevin.griggs@mso.umt.edu.