November 9, 2011 — EVANSTON, ILL. — A high school band in Palm Bay, Fla., cites the Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band among others as its inspiration, according to Florida Today in a recent article.
James Bernard Wilkins, director of the Panther Marching Band at Heritage High School, describes his band as "a combination of an older style from Texas A&M, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Northwestern universities and the historically black universities and colleges of today."
The Wildcat Band finds itself referenced in good company. Each of the named bands is a winner the Sudler Trophy, which is awarded by the John Philip Sousa Foundation to "recognize collegiate marching bands of particular excellence."
The foundation's statement of purpose for the award says receiving bands "have made oustanding contributions to the American way of life" and have "demsontrated the highest musical standards and innovative marching routines and ideas."
The Northwestern band won the trophy in 1992, having "made important contributions to the advancement of the performance standards of college marching bands over a period of years," according to the award's description. A band may only win the award once.
Like their collegiate inspirations, the Panther Marching Band memorizes all their music, and rehearses six to nine hours a week, says Wilkins.
"Practice does not make perfect," he says, "It only provides discipline and structure which allows you to be come more successful in achieving your goal."
It is a sentiment often echoed by Daniel J. Farris, director of athletic bands at Northwestern University.
—Daniel M. Reck (GSESP08)