The 10 Best College Marching Bands to Watch in 2024

Get ready to step onto the grand stage of college marching bands, where the field becomes a canvas, and the musicians become artists, weaving together melodies and choreography that will leave you breathless.

We'll explore ten of America's best college marching bands who are sure to dazzle in 2024 since they've been the stars of college performances for decades now. You'll witness the power of tradition, the precision of formations, and the sheer spectacle that these amazing marching bands bring to the gridiron.

From iconic hand gestures to awe-inspiring formations, each band brings its own unique flavor to the field, captivating audiences and uniting communities.

So, grab a seat and prepare to be transported into a world where music and motion collide, where passion and skill intertwine, and where the spirit of competition and camaraderie reign supreme.

College Marching Bands and Their Importance in America

College marching bands play a crucial role in the vibrant culture of America and electrify the atmosphere of college football games. These alumni bands aren't just a group of musicians; they're the driving force behind the energy and excitement that fills the stadiums during these events. The college marching bands bring a sense of pride and unity to the campus community and their football teams, and their performances are a testament to the hard work and dedication of the students involved.

At football games, they take center stage, showcasing their innovative and awe-inspiring performances. The drum corps, color guards, musicians, and everyone pitches in to create a visual spectacle with their precision drill formations, colorful uniforms, and dynamic choreography. The music they play resonates with the crowd, creating an electric atmosphere that fuels the excitement of the game.

These collegiate marching bands are known for pushing the boundaries of traditional marching band performances. They incorporate modern music genres and dance elements and even experiment with technology to create unique and memorable experiences for the audience. Their innovative approach to performance sets them apart and keeps the audience engaged.

In addition to being one of the best parts of college football season, college marching bands also perform at various events on and off campus, such as parades, pep rallies, athletic events, competitions, and even important national events like presidential inaugurations. Their presence adds an extra layer of excitement and entertainment to these occasions, further enhancing the vibrant culture of America.

How are Marching Bands Judged?

When judging a college marching band, typical criteria include evaluating their musicality, visual performance, and overall coordination. These criteria are essential in determining the success and quality of a university marching band's performance.

Musicality refers to the band's ability to play their instruments with precision, accuracy, and a strong sense of rhythm. It involves evaluating their tone quality, intonation, and dynamics.

Visual performance assesses the band's ability to execute complex formations, precise drill movements, and synchronized choreography. It also includes considering the band's posture, marching technique, and uniformity of movement.

Lastly, overall coordination involves evaluating how well the performers integrate their musical and visual elements to create a cohesive and engaging performance.

This criterion assesses the band's ability to transition smoothly between different formations and musical selections like the drum corp, bugle corps, and color guard, maintaining a high level of energy and enthusiasm throughout the performance. Judges also consider the band's ability to connect with the audience and enhance the overall atmosphere of a football game, a crucial factor in today's culture that measures success by how viral or innovative a performance can be.

Nonetheless, this isn't an official competition, so determining the best to look forward to in 2024 is also about experience, reputation, and excitement to see what these great bands can imagine and pull off!

1. Ohio State University Marching Band

Let's start with the renowned Ohio State University Marching Band, known for its exceptional performances and captivating halftime shows. The Ohio State University Marching Band, also known as 'The Best Damn Band in the Land,' is a force to be reckoned with in the world of college marching bands.

Their innovative approach to performances has earned them a well-deserved spot among the top marching bands in America, being also one of the few major bands to be all brass and percussion.

One of the highlights of the Ohio State University Marching Band's performances is their ability to seamlessly blend traditional marching band elements with modern twists and references. They push the boundaries of what's possible in a halftime show, incorporating complex formations, intricate choreography, and even elements of popular culture, from video games like Pac-Man to popular TV shows and movies like Harry Potter.

Their shows are a visual spectacle that leaves audiences in awe, with people around the world sharing videos of their performances. They are one of the ensembles most responsible for making marching band culture thrive in the digital age.

In addition to their innovative performances, the Ohio State University Marching Band is also known for its eye-catching uniforms. Their scarlet, black, and gray uniforms, adorned with the iconic Ohio State logo, instantly command attention. Whether they're performing in their home stadium, Ohio Stadium, or at away games, their uniforms proudly represent the university and instill a sense of pride in their fans.

When it comes to college football games, the Ohio State University Marching Band is a key part of the game day experience. Their energetic performances and passionate support for the team create an electric atmosphere in the stadium. The band's music fills the air, rallying the crowd and adding to the excitement of the game.

2. Texas Aggie Band

The Texas Aggie Band, also known as the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band, is a renowned college marching band famous for its high-energy performances and rich traditions.

Established in 1894, it's the oldest continuously operating collegiate military band in the United States. The band boasts over 400 members, likely making it the largest student organization in the university, among the largest in the world, and definitely the largest military marching band. Their impressive performances are characterized by their precision drill formations from the Aggie Color Guard and powerful musical arrangements, showcasing the talent and dedication of their members.

The Texas Aggie Band's unique military-style approach sets it apart from other college marching bands, making it a standout in the world of collegiate music. With its distinctive uniforms, the band's visual presence is as striking as its sound.

Whether performing at football games, parades, patriotic tributes, or other special events like presidential inaugurations, the Texas Aggie Band never fails to captivate audiences with their unmatched energy and dynamic performances. It's no wonder that the Texas Aggie Band consistently ranks among the top 10 college marching bands in America, earning its well-deserved reputation as a true musical powerhouse.

3. Purdue's All-American Marching Band

Purdue's All-American Marching Band, also known as AAMB, is renowned for its dynamic performances and innovative approach to marching band traditions. They've earned their place among the top 10 college marching bands in America for their exceptional musicality, precision, and showmanship, on top of having legendary alumni in its history, like Neil Armstrong.

The All-American Marching Band at Purdue University is a highly respected ensemble that has been captivating audiences for decades. With over 400 members, they create a powerful and electrifying sound that fills stadiums and energizes the crowd. Their performances are a fusion of traditional marching band elements and modern musical arrangements, delivering an experience that's both nostalgic and cutting-edge.

One of the hallmarks of the AAMB is their iconic Big Bass Drum Crew with the 'World's Largest Bass Drum.' This massive bass drum, measuring 10 feet in diameter, is a symbol of Purdue's pride and tradition. It's played by a band drum major, who leads the ensemble with flair and precision.

Purdue's All-American Marching Band continues to push the boundaries of what's possible in college marching bands. Their commitment to innovation and excellence has solidified their place as one of the top bands in America. Whether it's their captivating halftime shows with the largest marching drum in the world or their energetic pre-game performances, the AAMB never fails to impress and entertain.

4. The University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Band

With their energetic performances and rich musical heritage, the University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Band is a force to be reckoned with in the world of college marching bands.

Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, they have a long-standing tradition of excellence, dating back to its formation in 1869. The Pride of the Southland Band is famous for its iconic pregame show, which includes a thrilling march down the hill, geometric formations, and the iconic T Power T formation. Their performances at Neyland Stadium during University of Tennessee football games are legendary, creating an electric atmosphere that energizes both the players and the fans.

Tennessee has also performed at prestigious events such as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade. With their impeccable musicianship and innovative shows, the Pride of the Southland Band continues to be a leading force in the world of college marching bands.

5. University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band

When it comes to iconic college marching bands, there's another powerhouse that demands attention— the University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band. Known for their innovative performances and with a rich history and a tradition of excellence, the Spirit of Troy, as they are sometimes called, continues to captivate audiences with their dynamic and energetic shows.

What sets this amazing band apart is its commitment to pushing the boundaries of traditional marching band performances. They embrace creativity and constantly strive to innovate, incorporating elements of popular music, dance, and theatricality into their routines, which is why they've also gotten the name "Hollywood's Band." Among their top viral performances is their homage to Super Mario Bros., for example.

This dedication to pushing the envelope has garnered them a loyal following and has made them a fan favorite at football games and other events and bowl games, like the Rose Bowl, at which they've played more than 30 times.

Not only are the school students of the Trojans exceptional musicians, but they're also skilled performers who bring a high level of energy and enthusiasm to every performance.

Their passion and dedication are evident in their synchronized movements and powerful musical arrangements. The band's commitment to excellence and their ability to connect with audiences sets them apart from other college marching bands.

6. Penn State Blue Band

With a rich history dating back to 1899, the Blue Band has become an iconic symbol of Penn State University. Known for their energetic and innovative performances, they've gained a reputation for pushing the boundaries of traditional shows.

One of the unique aspects of the Blue Band is its diverse repertoire. They've mastered a wide range of musical genres, from classical and jazz to rock and pop. This versatility allows them to appeal to a wide audience, making their performances both entertaining and engaging. They've performed at a whopping 40 bowl games and have even made appearances in several films and television series.

Joining the Blue Band is no easy feat. Prospective members must go through a rigorous audition process, showcasing their musical skills, flips, and marching abilities. Once accepted, they become part of a close-knit community that shares a passion for music and performance.

The Blue Band's presence at Penn State football games is a highlight for fans and players alike. Their spirited performances and powerful renditions of Penn State's fight song, 'Let's Go, State,' create an electrifying atmosphere that adds to the excitement of game day.

Innovation and excellence are at the core of the Penn State Blue Band. Their commitment to pushing boundaries and delivering extraordinary performances solidifies their position as one of the top college marching bands in America.

7. University of Michigan Marching Band

Known for their innovative performances and rich tradition, the University of Michigan Marching Band has become a symbol of excellence not only in the world of college marching bands but also in American culture. With their precise military marching band style, they captivate audiences at parades, halftime shows, signature uniforms, and football games.

They were the first of the major bands in the country to perform at the Rose Bowl in 1948 and the first to perform at the Super Bowl back in 1973, and they've never stopped being the pride of Michigan to the world.

One of the defining features of the Michigan Marching Band is its incredible sound. Whether they're playing a classic tune or a contemporary hit, their music resonates with energy and passion. Led by their talented drum major, the band marches in perfect synchronization, creating a visual spectacle that's as impressive as their musical prowess, especially when they enter the field, form the letter "M" and then blast "Hail to the Victors," their anthem.

The University of Michigan Marching Band has been recognized for its exceptional performances on a national level, as they constantly strive to push the limits of creativity, incorporating new elements into their performances and setting trends for others to follow. With their impeccable musicianship, precision marching, and unwavering dedication, the Michigan Marching Band continues to be a force to be reckoned with in the world of college marching bands.

8. University of Texas Longhorn Band

The University of Texas Longhorn Band is renowned for its electrifying performances and deep-rooted tradition but is also known for pushing the boundaries of what a marching band can achieve, constantly seeking new ways to engage and entertain their fans.

With over 400 members, the "Show-band of the Southwest" is a force to be reckoned with on the field.

Their precision and synchronicity are unmatched, creating a seamless and dynamic performance that leaves spectators in awe. Whether it's their high-energy halftime shows or their spirited performances during football games, the Longhorn Band never fails to deliver an unforgettable experience.

What sets the Longhorn Band apart is their dedication to preserving their rich history and traditions. From their iconic 'Hook 'em Horns' hand gesture to their signature 'Eyes of Texas' performance, the band pays homage to their university and its heritage. This deep-rooted tradition adds an extra layer of meaning and pride to their performances, connecting generations of Longhorns and creating a truly special atmosphere. They also have one of the largest brass drums in the world at their shows, and probably among the oldest at 100 years old, called Big Bertha.

Innovation and tradition coexist harmoniously within the University of Texas Longhorn Band. Their commitment to pushing the boundaries of marching band performance while honoring their history makes them a standout in the collegiate marching band world. Whether you're a devoted Longhorn fan or simply appreciate innovation and tradition, the Longhorns are sure to leave you inspired and amazed.

9. Ohio University Marching 110 Band

Known for their high-energy performances and innovative choreography, the Ohio University Marching 110 Band electrifies audiences with their dynamic musical arrangements and visually stunning formations.

This renowned marching band, named for the first 110 members who founded it, is based at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and has gained recognition for pushing the boundaries of traditional marching band performances, something that's taking them even to the international stage, having performed in Ireland and Rome in 2013.

What sets the Ohio University Marching 110 Band apart is its commitment to pushing the boundaries of what a marching band can be. They aren't afraid to experiment with different musical genres, incorporating elements of rock, pop, and even hip-hop into their repertoire. This fusion of styles creates a unique and exciting experience for audiences, captivating them from start to finish.

The Ohio University Marching 110 Band's dedication to innovation and creativity has earned them a reputation as one of the top college marching bands in America. Their performances are a testament to their passion for music and their commitment to pushing the boundaries of what's possible in marching band performances. Whether you're a fan of traditional marching band music or crave something new and exciting, the Ohio University Marching 110 Band is sure to deliver a performance that will leave you in awe.

10. Florida State University Marching Chiefs Band

Florida State University's Marching Chiefs Band electrifies audiences with its powerful musical performances and visually stunning formations. Known for their innovative approach to marching band shows, the Marching Chiefs continuously push the boundaries of what's possible in a halftime performance. With a repertoire that spans various genres, from classical to contemporary, they captivate their audience with a unique blend of traditional and modern musical arrangements.

What sets the Marching Chiefs apart is also their respect for the state's Native American past at the pre-game show, with the university's Chief Osceola riding in front of the band with a flaming spear. At the same time, he performs the "Tomahawk Chop" and the famous war chant or fight song.

The Marching Chiefs' dedication to excellence is evident in their precision and attention to detail. Every step, every note, and every movement is executed with utmost precision, creating a seamless and immersive experience for the audience. Their performances exude energy and passion, leaving spectators in awe.

In addition to their performances at football games, the Marching Chiefs also participate in various parades and competitions, showcasing their talent and creativity on a national stage. They've gained recognition and acclaim for their musicality, showmanship, and commitment to pushing the boundaries of what a marching band can achieve.

Honorable Mentions

Many of the top college marching bands are on the list one year and maybe just right outside it another.

This is not a definitive list, and there are plenty of amazing and notable marching band programs in the United States that deserve honorable mentions for their outstanding performances and contributions to American culture.

There's the University of Minnesota, The Pride of Minnesota band, with over 320 members, has performed at Super Bowls and constantly ranks within the top 10 lists, making it one of the more famous college marching bands in the country.

Then there's the Hawkeye Marching Band from the University of Iowa, with 260 members and founded in 1881, having won the Sudler Trophy in 1990, cementing it in the top of collegiate bands forever, with Sports Illustrated calling them one of the top 7 halftime shows worth the watch.

The University of Georgia Redcoat Band is another college band constantly in the top 10 lists, with 430 members, and has even performed in China recently and played at the 2018 Rose Bowl game.

James Madison University's Marching Royal Dukes in Virginia are also stars, being especially famous for their use of jazz, tours in Europe, and performance in several NFL halftime shows.

Another band worth mentioning is the University of Illinois Marching Illini. Their precision and musicality have earned them a reputation as one of the top college marching bands in the country.

Again, while these bands may not have made the top 10 to look out for in 2024, their dedication to excellence and commitment to innovation makes them deserving of recognition.

Cousin's Concert Attire Can't Wait for What These Marching Bands Bring in 2024

From the precision of their formations to the power of their sound, the bands we picked for 2024 captivate audiences and enhance the overall game day experience.

Each band has its own unique traditions and legacies, adding to the vibrant and rich culture of college marching bands in America.

So, next time you attend a college football game, don't miss the electrifying performances of these ten best college marching bands. And if you require any support, extra accessories, or uniforms for your marching band needs, Cousin's Concert Attire is ready to go.

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