NFL Super Bowl & Pro Bowl Performances, Presidential Inauguration Parade Performances, Television Commercials, Grammy Awards Performances, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Performances, Bands Of America Performances, Features on ABC, NBC, & CNN Special Reports, Countless features in Sports Illustrated, featured in video games by EA Sports, and it literally goes on and on. You know who they are… The Bands that Block Us Up! consistently ranks the best… The Bands that ESPN consistently ranks at the top.. The bands that top everyone’s best of the best list every year. This article is a challenge to all of them.

sudlerThe Sudler Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy is an award made possible by a grant given to The John P. Sousa Foundation from Louis and Virginia Sudler of Chicago, Illinois. The Sudler Trophy was awarded annually from 1982 until 2007. In 2007 it was changed to a bi-annual award that is given to a college or university marching band which demonstrates, as its site suggests, “the highest of musical standards and innovative marching routines and ideas, and which has made important contributions to the advancement of the performance standards of college marching bands over a number of years”. A band can only be awarded once.

In 1985 Florida A&M University’s Marching 100, under the direction of Dr William P. Foster, was awarded the coveted Sudler Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy. This achievement was important because there had only been 3 awardees at that point in time. They were The University of Michigan Marching Band, under the legendary leadership of Dr. William Revelli – 1982, the University of Illinois Marching Band in 1983, and the Ohio State University Marching Band in 1984. FAMU’s Marching 100 was the 4th recipient. FAMU’s band, a relatively small HBCU, being selected for this national award  amongst such distinguished honorees was, and remains, a huge accomplishment. 0819591001466011886_filepicker1

That was 32 years ago… Since then no HBCU band has been awarded the coveted Sudler Trophy.  There has been constant discussion in the HBCU community as to why… Some say it’s due to a lack of creativity amongst HBCU Bands. Others say it’s due to “political reasons”. I’ve heard certain directors say the award is not important. It’s just another trophy… Just one person’s opinion… etc. To those points I disagree. Every aspect of what we do as musicians is adjudicated by an audience and therefore opinionated. The argument that “it’s just one person’s opinion therefore it doesn’t matter” is a cop out. Students are adjudicated throughout their musical careers, from the very moment they touch their instruments. Marching bands are heavily adjudicated on the HS level. Rather it’s Joe Six Pack or an experienced musician, someone has an opinion on every  aspect of their performance. Why do we want it to stop at the collegiate level? To pamper and protect easily bruised egos?

I believe this award is important because it is established as THE measure for excellence among America’s elite college marching band programs.  I believe it’s time for an HBCU Band program, the ones we claim to be the best every year, to participate in the process again and to win.  Here’s how…


(For The 2019 Award)

  • October 1st 2018 deadline for College directors to recommend a program of their choosing. Any band director may submit up to three bands for consideration. Recommendation should include; Name of school and current band director,
    Name of person making the recommendation, Paragraph of support for the recommendation. These recommendation materials should be submitted electronically to Frank Tracz at ftracz@ksu.edu
  • For each group that is recommended, a performance DVD (one copy) is required (it should be acquired from the current university marching band director). The maximum length for a performance DVD is twenty minutes. The performance should be a high camera view. Five minutes of footage should be from the 2018 marching season. One complete halftime show is required. Pregame footage is welcome to reflect band tradition. Each performance DVD should be mailed to the below address and must be postmarked no later than October 1, 2018:

    Dr. Franck Tracz
    Chair, Sudler Trophy Committee
    Kansas State University Bands
    226 McCain Auditorium
    Manhattan, KS 66506


That’s all that is required to apply. From that point the committee will select three bands from the pool of recommendations to move on to the next level. Help us encourage the leadership from our favorite bands to recommend up to three bands they believe deserves this award. You can help by sharing this article to your favorite band’s leadership and tagging their members on social media posts about the subject. As stated, the process is relatively easy, consisting mostly of a recommendation, and DVD & Audio CD submissions (An easy job for most of today’s Media Teams). Let’s make 2019 the year another HBCU Marching Band is selected for this award!

Published by Ernest Stackhouse

-Music Educator -Marching Band Show Design -Musical Arranger -Adjudicator -Fine Arts Administrator -Band Director -Writer

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