Smith Walbridge Clinics return to Eastern

Sam Fishel, Staff Reporter

The Smith Walbridge marching band clinics are taking place on Eastern’s campus this month, with various camps for drum majors, color guard, directors and more occurring from July 12-29.

The Smith Walbridge Clinics have taken place at Eastern since 2000 with a mission to provide specialized training to marching band staff and students, in order to improve their individual skills as well as their home marching programs.

Over the course of the summer, Smith Walbridge will welcome nearly 900 students to campus, providing each of them with the skills needed to succeed in marching band.

President and director Barry Houser said that the clinics provide the “how-to” for drum majors, directors, drum line and color guard members from across the country.

“Everything we do is completely about the students and seeing them develop in a short amount of time,” Dr. Houser said.

Houser, a former director of Eastern’s Panther Marching Band, currently serves as the director of the University of Illinois Marching Illini.

Ruth Ann Medworth, director of the Flag and Rifle Clinic, said, “When [students] are here, [they] are doing the best [they] can and learning the most.”

She added, “I think part of the fun of the camp experience is having the opportunity to learn things without being under the pressure of a competition season.”

Medworth said that she has been with Smith Walbridge since 1975 and has watched the sport evolve a great deal since then.

She noted that the Smith Walbridge Clinics teaches the most “state-of-the-art” techniques for marching band and color guard. To do this, the Clinics keep a current staff, many of who have recent marching experience with Drum Corp International and Winter Guard International.

Besides technique and performance-oriented classes, students learn leadership skills that will allow them to excel beyond the performance. Earlier in the week, students and staff were also treated to a special performance by the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps at O’Brien Field.

In all, Houser said that his favorite part of the clinics is watching students grow and learn that “hard work can be fun” when striving for excellence.

Apart from skills, Medworth says that she hopes students will take home many great memories of the people they met and became friends with at Smith Walbridge.

“I’m sure some of these memories will be the one’s they talk about forever…you remember what happened at Smith Walbridge,” Medworth concluded.

For more information about Smith Walbridge and their clinics, check out their website.


Sam Fishel can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]