The Power of the Wasatch

The BYU Band Website

An essential piece of the pageantry, tradition and atmosphere of BYU athletics, the BYU marching band takes its nickname - "Power of the Wasatch" - from the stretch of Rocky Mountains that provides the beautiful backdrop for BYU's campus. The music of BYU's band has echoed off those mountains since 1908 when it first took the field under the direction of Robert Sauer, composer of the famous tune "When It's Springtime in the Rockies". The band has since evolved into the precision band it is today.

In 1943 the band emerged as part of the ROTC on campus. However, in 1953 it was given to the College of Fine Arts and Communications under the direction of Rich Ballou and Grant Elkington, the first drum major.

Five others have taken a turn at the head of the BYU Marching Band. Elkington succeeded Ballou and was then replaced by Bruce Bastian, who would later be one of the founders of the WordPerfect software. Dan Bachelder and David Blackinton followed Bastian to the baton and then passed it on to Dr. Don Peterson, who led the band for more than 15 years. Fred McInnis currently leads the Cougar marching band as interim band director.

Auditions for the 225-member band, made in person or by tape, begin in the spring and run through early summer. The "Power of the Wasatch" comes together for the first time one week before the start of fall semester in the asphalt parking lot of the Marriott Center. As it is not a requirement to have performed in a marching band previous to joining, some of that time is spent learning the fundamentals of marching as a unit.

The band practices a total of six hours per week, meeting three days a week for two hours. The success of BYU's football team has allowed the marching band to gain national exposure. Referred to as the "Power of the Wasatch," the BYU band plays at every home game and has accompanied the Cougars to more than 20 bowl appearances.

In addition to the marching band, the College of Fine Arts and Communications provides two pep bands that attend basketball and other athletic events. The Blue and White Bands, as they are known, are composed of approximately 30 members each. Comprised of members of the concert and marching bands, the Blue and White Bands add excitement and atmosphere to indoor athletic events.