Eastern hosts Smith Walbridge Marching Band camp

AJ Fournier, Campus Editor

900 students representing 25 states will be at Eastern as the university hosts the Smith Walbridge Marching Band Clinics for the next two weeks.

The Smith Walbridge Clinics are the first marching leadership camp in the country. They specialize in the training of high school and college students who are part of a marching band.

“The camp offers a variety of different clinics throughout the course of our stay all over campus. We have 300 drum majors, flag and rifle, drumline, a director’s workshop and this weekend we start a variety of leadership workshops,” Barry Houser, president of the Smith Walbridge Drum Major Camp, said.

The Smith Walbridge camp was established in 1949 in Syracuse, Indiana. It stayed in Indiana until 1990 when it moved to the University of Illinois in 1998.

The clinics then moved to Eastern in 2000 have been at the university ever since.

Drum Major Instructor James O’Neill said this camp is specifically designed for drum majors of marching bands.

Students from high schools and colleges from all over the country come and learn about marching technique, conducting and leadership training.

Some of the students of the camp go through a tradition called Smith Walbridge First Class.

“It is a four-phase test. The first phase is a written test, the second phase is calling commands and marching execution, the third phase is conducting skills and the fourth and final phase is another written exam but a much more challenging, more detailed and rigorous written exam,” O’Neill said.

The day-to-day schedule starts around 8 a.m. when students do lab work on the field and learn different skill sets and leadership roles that they will use in their own marching bands.

Participants spend most of their time outside in the morning and when it starts to get warmer they head into the classroom for lecture-based learning, Houser said.

By the afternoon they are back outside practicing and doing squad practices until the evening.

“Every day we have these squad run0offs where students get to learn a sequence of moves, they will each take a turn being a drum major and teaching exactions and calling commands,” said Drum Major Instructional Staff Victoria Sewell.

The camp also works with the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum Corps, which is on campus but they participate in separate camps.


AJ Fournier can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].