More than 200 students contribute to the musical environment of the Wichita State
University Bands. A rich variety of experiences are created for listeners and participants
alike. Concert ensembles include the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band. The Athletic
Bands consist of “Shocker Sound” Basketball Band and "Shocker Sound Machine" Marching
The WSU Athletic Band Program has a storied history. The award-winning Shocker Sound Basketball Band has been in existence for over 50 years! They're responsible for bringing down the
house in Koch Arena for Shocker Athletic events. Don't miss being a part of this fun,
entertaining, and exciting ensemble! Students are eligible for participation and travel
with the band to basketball tournaments provided they are enrolled as a student at
WSU. With an instrumentation of Saxophones, Brass, Drumset, and Electric Bass, Shocker
Sound performs for all games for the Shocker Volleyball and Men and Women basketball
teams. There are approximately 10 volleyball games, 20 men’s games, and 20 women's
games each season, excluding tournaments.
The Vision for the WSU Athletic Bands is to have over 100 members of the Wichita State
University student body working together to provide entertainment and excitement at
Shocker Athletics events and around our local community and region. Students involved
will be a part of ensembles that respect the traditions that make us who we are as
well as forge new roads in education, performance, and entertainment.
Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble
WSU has two concert bands available to students: the Wind Ensemble and the Symphonic Band. These ensembles both include numerous undergraduate and graduate music and non-music
majors. While the bands require a placement audition for seating, our goal is one
of inclusion – we want to accommodate all non-music majors who desire to continue
their instrumental music experience in a university setting. To this end, we will
accommodate non-music major students with scheduling issues on a limited basis.
The bands perform both standard and contemporary repertoire. We have performed everywhere
from national and regional conferences to New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall.
The Wichita State University Bands
A Tradition of Excellence
At the turn of the 19th century, Wichita was a growing city with the arts at its core.
During this time, several music conservatories, local colleges and professional bands,
choirs and orchestras flourished in Kansas. While many colleges and conservatories
close their doors after just a few years, several colleges continued to grow and thrive,
most notably Fairmount College in Wichita. Fairmount College became the Municipal
University of Wichita (WU) in 1962 and Wichita State University (WSU) in 1964.
From its start in 1895, Fairmount College was arts-minded, offering classes in music
theory and history along with lessons in voice, piano and orchestral instruments.
In 1902 the college established the Music Department. Associated with the Music Department
were ensembles, some sponsored by the department, others loosely formed by students
and often augmented with community members. It was these fledgling 1902 ad hoc student-community
groups that provided the birthright for the infant WSU band. By 1909 the Fairmount
College Band was adorned in traditional band uniforms of the day and boasted a membership
of twenty students, including three violinists!
In 1924 there was a very active Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) on campus that
established an ROTC band. Student musicians directed the ROTC band until 1929 when
Otto Culvert was brought to campus to lead the group. This band was organized mainly
for the purpose of supplying musical enjoyment to its members and for ROTC functions.
In 1930, a Women's Drum and Bugle Corp was established on campus and performed at
sporting events and parades. The Women's Drum and Bugle Corp was short-lived, flourishing
for approximately four years. The ROTC band continued to grow with the coming years
and became known for its fine musical ability. In 1932, Walter Duerksen, after whom
the present fine arts center is named, assumed directorship of the ROTC band. He was
the first band conductor to be full time in the Music Department. The ROTC band’s
main purpose at that time was to supply musical enjoyment, prepare formal concerts
and to perform at football games. Duerksen established a second band, not associated
with ROTC, in 1939. By 1941, Duerksen was in charge of three WU bands: a ROTC Marching
Band, a ROTC Concert Band, and a University Concert Band.
The WU bands were flourishing organizations prior to World War II. With the onset
of the war, many colleges and universities experienced declining enrollments as men
were shipped over seas. In 1941, the WU bands, in order to bolster enrollments, formally
admitted women to the University Band and suspended the ROTC bands. In 1946, James
Kerr, who had been a highly successful high school band conductor in Norton, Kansas,
became the Director of WU Bands. At the same time, Duerksen became the director of
the WU School of Music. Kerr held the post of Director of Bands, with distinction,
Under Kerr's legendary leadership, the university bands experienced unprecedented
growth in numbers and quality, becoming nationally recognized for excellence both
in the concert hall and on the football field. During his tenure, Kerr led the concert
bands in regional and national convention performances of the Music Educators National
Conference, numerous Kansas state conventions, and was invited to perform at the College
Band Directors National Association National Convention. The Marching Band received
national recognition for its creative pre-game and half time shows. Kerr, as a result
of his work with the WU bands, was inducted into the prestigious American Bandmasters
Association, Kansas Music Educators Association Hall of Fame, and was named Outstanding
Kansas Band Director by the Kansas Bandmasters Association.
The twenty years following Kerr’s tenure found the Wichita State University Bands
under the leadership of several band directors. These included:
- Don Wilcox (1970 – 1971)
- John Boyd (1971 – 1974)
- Dave Catron (1974 – 1979)
- Dale Kennedy (1980 – 1982)
- Myles Mazur (1983 – 1989)
- William Mack (1989 – 1990)
- Victor Markovich (1990 - 2016)
- Timothy Shade (2016 - Present)
During these transitional periods of WSU Bands leadership, Dr. Donald Corbett, Professor
of Music Education, provided stability for the bands. Dr. Corbett, a WSU Bands alumnus
and a student of Kerr, served twice as Interim Director of Bands (1979 - 1980 and
1982 - 1983). Corbett retired in 1994 as Associate Director of Bands Emeritus. In
2002 the WSU Bands celebrated their Centennial of 100 years of Excellence.
Shocker Sound Machine FAQ
What is the Shocker Sound Machine? What is a "Basketball Marching Band"?
This ensemble will be about entertainment. Exciting, energetic, high-octane performances - that is what we are looking to create.
Although the marching band has been synonymous with football, this ensemble is not
really a "Marching Band" in a traditional sense, it is something new! Shocker Sound
Machine (SSM) will be a movement-based ensemble that will incorporate traditional
and contemporary techniques for movement and sound. Performances could be seen at
basketball games, local high-school football games, and other events as they arise.
What kind of community events and parades will the band perform in?
We do not see the Shocker Sound Machine as a traditional militaristic, pageantry style
ensemble. Therefore parades, if we perform in them, will not see the band "marching"
down the street. It will be something different. Other community events could include
pop-up concerts, flash-mobs, private events, pep rallys - we do not quite know yet.
At first we will keep the performance schedule small until we can clarify all performance
styles of the ensemble.
Will it cost anything to be a member of the Athletic Band Program at WSU?
At this point we see no costs for students in regards to uniforms, instruments, or
travel. Starting in academic year 2019-20, there will be a 1 credit course offered
each semester that students will be expected to enroll in. We are hoping to offer
scholarships to offset the partial or complete costs of course enrollment for as many
students as we can.
Will students receive scholarships/stipends to be in the band?
It is our hope that we will be able to scholarship the majority of students in the
athletic band program.
Will this take away from the band we already have for games?
No! Shocker Sound will still function as it always has - providing entertainment for
the fans and support for our teams at sporting events. Shocker Sound Machine is an
addition to the WSU Athletic Bands program and will provide an additional layer and
opportunity for our students and program in performance and entertainment.
What's the audition process?
The audition process will consist of a playing and movement audition and will occur
during the first week of classes.
Do I have to be a music major to participate?
You do not! In fact, we are looking forward to including as many non-majors as possible.
Do I have to be a full-time student?
No! Each member must only be enrolled in at least one class at WSU outside of Shocker
Sound or Shocker Sound Machine.
Is there a drum line?
For more information contact Dr. Timothy Shade, Director of Bands.