McCann takes place in history with marching band

Betsy McCann in action

Betsy McCann in action at TCF Bank Stadium as the first-ever female director of the University of Minnesota Marching Band. Photo:

Native Minnesotan and Gopher alumna Betsy Kerns McCann is the new director of the University of Minnesota Marching Band and athletic bands. When she was appointed in July she became the first-ever female marching band director in the Big Ten. She started with the U’s marching band in 2013 as assistant director.

“I was very excited,” says McCann. “It’s an amazing group of students and staff and volunteers. So I was thrilled to learn that I was going to be able to lead the group this year.”

Things have gone “fantastically” well in the first three months, she says. “I didn’t get the job until July so there wasn’t a whole lot of time to prepare, but thankfully it was easy to walk in and know what needed to happen… and to be able to just hit the ground running.

“As far as managing students and other people, that’s not feeling like too much of a change,” she adds. “I think I’ve had a really close relationship with people from the past few years, so that’s been a really easy transition.”

McCann earned a bachelor’s degree in music education and performance from the University of Minnesota and a master’s in conducting from Northwestern. She previously directed bands at Watertown-Mayer High School (Minnesota), Waubonsie Valley High School (Aurora, Illinois), and Burnsville Senior High School, before coming back to the U in 2013.

“One thing that’s been surprising and really exciting is having a broader realization of how big the Marching Band community is—our community of alumni and supporters,” McCann says. “And that’s something that I hope our students feel. … We’re doing some things around homecoming to help illustrate to everybody [the effect of] this big historical organization that we’re a part of. It’s been exciting.”
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities