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Trumpeting Dreams

Eichler family continues tradition of giving back to Spartan Marching Band.

“What’s next?” Ed Eichler’s question was like music to the ears of John T. Madden, director of the Spartan Marching Band (SMB). He had a bold answer: a turf practice field funded entirely with private support.

Helping realize the dreams of the SMB was nothing new to Ed and his wife Wanda, the parents of three band alumni. Back in 2010, Ed asked John about instrument needs for the band. At that time there was a pressing need for new trumpets. Though Ed played tuba (and still does at least once a year), he and Wanda agreed to purchase 62 silver, custom-designed trumpets. Madden says this purchase helped the band achieve a purity of sound the likes of which had never been heard in Spartan Stadium.

Ed’s new question sparked an 18-month effort to develop a plan and secure $1.3 million in private support to transform the band’s practice facilities.

The current grass practice field, located near Demonstration Hall, often turned to mud or frozen ruts that impaired students’ ability to move with precision while reading music and increased the risk of serious injury.

The upgraded facilities, to be located at the southeast corner of Munn Field, will include a regulation-sized, artificial turf football field – impervious to weather – as well as a two-level teaching tower and accessible bleacher seating for 500.

The enhancements, expected to be done by fall of 2014, will also benefit many other students.

“We are grateful for the Eichler’s gift because this project will benefit thousands of students who participate in intramural sports activities and kinesiology courses each year. The collaboration of the College of Music, Student Affairs, and Athletics to make this project a reality will long impact the quality of the Spartan student experience,” says Denise B. Maybank, vice president for Student Affairs and Services.

The Forest H. Akers Trust Fund provided the lead gift of $1 million and Ed and Wanda’s $300,000 commitment provided the second and final gift to fully fund the project. The MSU Board of Trustees voted to name the practice space the Forest Akers Trust Practice Complex and the Ed & Wanda Eichler Family Teaching Tower and Gallery.

“This new field is a game-changer for us,” says Madden. “We continue to be grateful to the Eichlers for their love of the Spartan Marching Band and for all they do to enhance the student learning experience.”

Jim Forger, dean of the College of Music, adds: “We are so grateful for Ed and Wanda’s passion for the SMB and their challenge to think about the next big project. Thanks to their query, we will soon have a practice field that is commensurate with the talent of our beloved SMB.”

To learn more about supporting the Spartan Marching Band, contact Director of Development Rebecca Surian at surian@msu.edu or call (517) 353-9872.