History of the SUMB

The Shippensburg University Marching Band has been performing, entertaining, and showing school spirit for over 95 years.

The following information comes from Cumberland Yearbooks, the Shippensburg University Archives & Special Collections, and SUMB alumnus Meriah Swope.


The first official Cumberland Valley Normal School Band was formed in 1924 with 28 men. The all-male band was under the direction of D.O. Slytar. The band's spirit became clear as they would play during daily chapel, parades, athletic games, and other school functions.


By 1925, interest in the band began to grow. The band received new uniforms, instruments, and practice rooms. The band would visit high schools and play at other institutions. One of the primary functions of the band was to teach students how to lead the band to gain experience in their future careers. The band's continued success earned them official recognition by the school in 1929.


In the 1930's, the Shippensburg State College Band began to establish themselves as a formal marching unit. The band also began to move towards militaristic elements in their uniforms.


In the 1939 marching season, the band opened membership to women. That same year, the band had its first female drum major, or majorette.


Throughout the 1940s, membership dropped as many male students joined the U.S. Military to fight in World War II. The band dispersed for the 1943 and 1944 seasons due to the lack of enrollment, and the orchestra served as the only instrumental organization on campus. As the school enrollment started to recover from the war, the band began to grow once again throughout the 1950s.


The late 1960s and early 1970s saw a considerable growth in membership. In 1960, the band had one drum major, five majorettes, and around sixty instrumentalists. By 1972, the band had added seven majorettes, nine color guard (flag spinners), and around twenty-five pom-pom squad girls. The band continued to play at the homecoming parade, at football games, and at various pep rally events throughout the year.


President-elect Jimmy Carter asked the Shippensburg State College Marching Band to perform in the 1977 inaugural parade in Washington D.C. for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Carter and his wife saw the band perform in Harrisburg during the 1976 campaign, and Mrs. Carter enjoyed them so much, she asked her husband to invite them to the inauguration. On January 20, 1977, the Shippensburg State College Marching Band marched in President Jimmy Carter's Inaugural Parade as representatives of the state of Pennsylvania.


On October 25, 1981, the Shippensburg State College Red Raider Marching Band was featured at halftime during the Philadelphia Eagles-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game in Veterans Stadium. The band was led by Dr. Bennie Truax and consisted of 166 student members.


In December 2014, the SUMB travelled abroad to Ireland to perform in a New Year's Parade. Starting that year, the SUMB began overseas performance opportunities every 4 years.


On November 1, 2015, the SUMB performed pre-game and halftime for the Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.  There were over 64,000 spectators in attendance.


From December 27, 2018 to January 3, 2019, the SUMB travelled overseas to Italy. While abroad, the band marched in parades at Montecatini-Terme and on New Year's Day at the Vatican. The band toured Florence, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Coliseum, Rome, and Vatican City.


The SUMB continues to be the centerpiece of school spirit and pride by performing and supporting our Raider football team at all home games and several away games throughout the season. The band continues to perform at various exhibitions, including the annual Collegiate Marching Band Festival in Allentown. The SUMB came together for the love of music, the creation of memories, and the ability to create lifelong friendships, and continues to stand by these ideals today.