With one year under his belt directing the Missouri State University Pride Marching Band, Dr. Bradley Snow follows in the footsteps of long-time director Jerry Hoover while continuing to increase membership and take the band to the next level of excellence.
Honor the past, look toward the future. That’s what Dr. Bradley Snow did when he became the director of athletic bands at Missouri State University (MSU) following the retirement of Jerry Hoover, who was the band director at MSU for 31 years. After completing his first year at MSU, Snow is continuing to raise the bar.
Halftime: What is your musical background?
Snow: I started playing trumpet in the seventh grade, and from day one, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I went to the University of Missouri and got an undergraduate degree in music education and got hired as a band director in Warrenton, Missouri, for five years.
I had a friend who was a band director in the area, and he joined the [U.S.] Marine Band. It was something I’d always wanted to do, so I set up an audition, and next thing I knew, I was in the Marine Band. I did that for four years and got a lot of experience. I was able to utilize the Montgomery GI Bill to help pay for grad school as soon as I got out of the Marine Corps, and I did my master’s and doctoral degrees in conducting back-to-back … at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Halftime: How did the Marine Band influence you as a director?
Snow: It gave me an appreciation for how to run an organization because the Marine Corps is very organized. In addition to playing our instruments, we all had logistical assignments, and my assignment for four years was to schedule all of our performances and make sure we had musicians to cover all of [them]. So that helped with being a college band director. I don’t think I would be as successful as I am if I had not done the Marine Band.
Halftime: What have been some of your roles prior to being at Missouri State including your time leading the National Band Association?
Snow: Through my connections with my professor at Southern Miss, I was hired as the administrator for the National Band Association. I did that for a couple of years when I got hired on at Southern Miss. When I left Southern Miss to become associate director of bands at Oklahoma State, my role switched. I went from the administrator for the National Band Association to what they call division chairs, when you oversee all of the state chairs, so I was division chair for the whole entire southwest of the United States. When I was at Mizzou as director of bands for six years, I was the state chair for Missouri. Then I came to MSU.
Halftime: When you took over the Pride Band at MSU in 2016, what were your expectations?
Snow: I knew the band had a really strong reputation, but I didn’t know the infrastructure behind the band. I’d always come from a situation where it’s been basically me as a director, but this band is just set up for success with three full-time band staff and graduate assistants, and the work ethic of the students has been most impressive to me. I’ve had good bands everywhere I’ve been, and I’ve always had a really good core of students, but the core group of students here is so much larger than any group I’ve ever worked with before, and I think that’s the difference for me.
Halftime: What was the most surprising thing you learned from your first year?
Snow: Every place I’ve ever been, whatever the reputation of the athletic program has been, the band has been linked to that. The fact that the Pride Band has its own reputation that’s separate from the athletics program is the biggest difference. I’ve never had a situation where band has been that widely recognized as the thing on campus.
Halftime: What challenges did you face during your first year at MSU?
Snow: Whenever you replace someone who’s been here for 31 years, that’s always in the back of your mind, wondering if you’re living up to the standard. Not that I want to take the band in a completely different direction, but you feel pressure to maintain that level of excellence that’s been here since the mid-’80s.
Halftime: What future goals do you have for the band?
Snow: I make the joke that when we look back 20 years from now, I want the first year to be the worst band I’ve had here. Not that it’s any level of bad at all, but I just want to continue to raise the bar each year. I think it’s really important that we push the envelope and not just be the typical college marching band. I want us to be something that people look at and emulate.
Halftime: What has been your proudest moment as a band director at MSU?
Snow: I’m proud that we had 297 people march last year, and 203 have … come back. We’re also projected to have more than 350 people [total]. That kind of leap in membership shows not only that the current students like what we’re doing, but also that word is out with band directors and area students that this is something they need to be part of. What makes me most proud is that people want to be part of the band.
Halftime: What advice would you give to younger directors?
Snow: It’s not about them; it’s about their students. If you stop making it about your students, then you’re doing this for the wrong reasons. You’re never too good to move a ladder, copy music, or carry a water cooler. The minute you think you’re too big for that, you need to change positions.