New hub for SMU Mustang Spirit

With a blast of horns and a rolling drumbeat, the new Mustang Band Hall was dedicated on Friday, Sept. 19.

DALLAS (SMU) – With a blast of horns and a rolling drumbeat, the new Mustang Band Hall was dedicated Friday, Sept. 19. 

Band Hall Ribbon-CuttingFive times larger than its previous space, the new band hall features an expanded rehearsal hall, enhanced practice rooms and an outdoor performance plaza designed to showcase SMU's traditional hub of campus spirit, the Mustang Band.

“A major part of SMU’s mission is to provide our students with a well-rounded collegiate experience, including opportunities for personal development in first-rate facilities," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The new Mustang Band Hall is a great example of a facility that enables band members to strengthen their talent, form lifelong friendships and embrace traditions. I am grateful to the many donors who helped provide this new facility for the Mustang Band."

More than 1,250 band alumni, supporters and friends contributed funds to build the $3 million, 11,000-square-foot Mustang Band Hall, located at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports on the southeast edge of campus near Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Moody Coliseum and the new Residential Commons complex. The new rehearsal hall accommodates a 150-member band, enabling the current 88-member band to expand its membership. New individual and ensemble practice rooms, instrument storage areas and offices create spaces for band members and leaders to hone the Mustang Band's unique jazz sound.

"I am looking forward to the wonderful music that will be created in this band hall," said Lori White, vice president for student affairs. "The Mustang Band sets the tone for Mustang spirit for the entire SMU community at events year-round."

Audiences can still expect band classics such as "Peruna" and "Pony Battle Cry," but should listen for improved sound thanks to the acoustics in the new Directors' Rehearsal Hall, says Don Hopkins, Mustang Band director and 1977-82 band member.

"Acoustically the new facility is much, much better than the old band hall. It is easy to hear and quickly correct errors in our new rehearsal hall, which makes the band better," Hopkins said.

Students are appreciating the opportunity to make music in the new space, "Everyone loves the new band hall," says Nick Morris, 2011-2014 Mustang Band drum major. "We have a comfortable sitting area where we can relax after a long rehearsal. We also have a fully equipped break room and so much more space in the new rehearsal hall. It is a vast improvement over the former band hall."

As one of the oldest campus organizations at SMU, the band incorporated reminders of its heritage into the new Band Hall design. The horseshoe-shaped doors and Diamond M neon sign that marked the entrance to the previous Band Hall in Perkins Natatorium since 1956 now serve as a welcome to the new Mustang Band Hall.

"The fact that so many band friends rallied to support the new band hall shows that Mustang spirit lives on," said Brad Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs. "The new Mustang Band Hall is a place that honors SMU traditions and provides a beautiful space to perfect that Mustang sound."

Those who gave $100,000 or more to the Mustang Band Hall include the estate of William A. Arnold, IV '86, Michael R. Cumiskey '71 and Jane Thaggard Cumiskey '71, '88, Jerome M. Fullinwider '51, Dianne Warren Green '70 and William L. Green' 69, '72, Marsha Harrison Kleinheinz '83 and John B. Kleinheinz, Paul B. Loyd, Jr. '68 and Penny R. Loyd, friends of David Percival '80,  Mark A. Robertson '85, Arch W. Van Meter '53, '72 and Patsy T. Van Meter.

Current students aren't the only band members enjoying the new Band Hall. Alumni Band members practice there weekly to prepare for tailgate performances before football games and to support Mustang basketball when student band members are away for the holidays.

SMU Mustang Band"Band members quickly learn that being part of an organization so tied to SMU tradition and spirit is being part of something that is larger than themselves," said Roger Pace, president of the Diamond M Club, a 1975-77 member of the Mustang Band and a member of the Alumni Band. "Dedicating the new Mustang Band Hall is a milestone for the band and SMU."

The first Mustang Band was made up of members of the SMU orchestra who formed a band to back up the cheerleaders for the last two football games of the 1917 season. By the 1924 football season, the band had become the leader of SMU school spirit with members sporting knee-high boots and capes. Inspired by the growing popularity of jazz, the Mustang Band became the first college band to march and play jazz and changed its uniform style to slacks and blazers – the beginning of a unique sound and look that continues today. Recognized as the "Best-dressed Band in the Land," band members can create 29 distinct looks with their uniforms, including the trademark candy-striped jackets.

With its signature sound, the Mustang Band soon attracted fans nationwide, traveling throughout the United States in 1935 on a 12-week summer vaudeville circuit. In 1946, Dallas audiences listened to a weekly Mustang Band concert on WFAA radio. Comedian Bob Hope invited the band to perform with him in his 1983 television special filmed at Moody Coliseum. In 1997, the band's compact disc recorded with the Light Crust Doughboys garnered several Grammy Award votes. The Mustang Band performed before its most distinguished audiences in 2001 when it played for the inauguration of President George W. Bush and at festivities surrounding the 2013 dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at SMU.

New gifts supporting the Mustang Band Hall count toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised $90x million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. The campaign coincides with SMU’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.


SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.