Visual Statement: The conductor of school spirit

By Alden Reiss, Managing Photo Editor
Published November 27, 2012

One thing that really stuck out to me as I toured colleges as a high school senior was the number of people at the University who wore Michigan apparel. I loved it. I love the school spirit here. I love how whenever I'm anywhere around the world, I can always find a connection back to the University.

When I set out to document the life of Jeffrey McMahon, the drum major of the Michigan Marching Band, I didn’t know what to expect. Having met and photographed the previous drum major, David Hines, Jr., I knew I would get a subject full of smiles, confidence and maize and blue.

Having spent time with McMahon, it is now clear to me how important his role is. He is the leader of the school spirit at the University. After the games on Saturdays, we remember the score and the players, but the most important part of each game is the fans. McMahon acts as the conductor of those fans.

When talking to McMahon about the importance of the Michigan Marching Band, he said, “I love representing the University and its entire fan base as best as I can. Without the band, there’s no ‘Victors.' Without the band, there’s no 'Let's Go Blue.' So many parts of Michigan football that are so crucial to its image and its brand lie with us and our music.”