As Jack’s 100th birthday approaches on July 24th, we’d like to take a moment to share some of the many highlights of his 37-year career at the University of Nebraska. Jack served as director of bands/marching band and professor of French horn at UNL from 1950-1986.

After serving in the United States Army during World War II, Jack completed his undergrad and master’s degrees from the university. After teaching at Kearney High School for one year, he was asked to come back to the university in 1950 to teach low brass, percussion and assist with the band program under Donald Lentz.

Jack expanded the band program in his first years, made improvements and took different approaches – all with the goal of improving the situation for the students.

Jack Snider giving marching instructions to band students outside.
Waving both arms and pointing in two directions at once, Director Jack Snider shouts instructions to the University of Nebraska band during a marching rehearsal. November 12, 1961

Jack’s first show as director of the Cornhusker Marching Band was the 1961 North Dakota game where it rained ALL week. The film of that halftime show is (now) humorous… the highlight being when twirler Joyce Burns made her debut, jumping out of the oversized bass drum just as the sun broke through the clouds, starting the tradition of the twirler being called the “Sunshine Girl.”

The first women auditioned for the Marching Band in 1971, but of the five who auditioned, none were accepted. The next year, five women were accepted into the group.  

Band leader directing band rehearsal indoors.
Jack Snider leading rehearsal.

In 1973, Jack assisted in getting alumni together to form the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Band Alumni Association to establish resources for both long and short term projects and to assist the Cornhusker Marching Band in raising funds for a three-week European tour.

From May 15-June 6, 1974, Jack led 168 band members on a European tour visiting Switzerland, Germany, England, Belgium and the Netherlands, giving a total of nine concerts. Jack designed a 60-minute half time show with marches, show tunes and Disney tunes. Such exposure brought national recognition to the Nebraska Bands and attracted students from all over the country.

“Jack Snider was nothing short of an iconic figure in music at UNL. His storied career as Director of Bands was the stuff of legend. No UNL Band Alumni Weekend ended without a standing ovation for Jack Snider. Very few concerts on the UNL campus happened without Jack Snider in the audience. His mind and ears were formidable. His humor was dry, yet generous and so very smart. He was an inspiration to all.

John W. Richmond, former Glenn Korff School of Music Director
Man conducting
September 22 1985

Jack was a member of the American Bandmasters Association, co-founder and charter member of the Nebraska Bandmasters Association, College Band Directors National Association, National Band Association, Phi Kappa Lambda, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Gamma Lambda and Kiwanis International. He also co-founded the Nebraska Marching Band Festival, the nation’s largest indoor marching band competition.

Community and state-wide activities also occupied much of Jack’s time and energy. He was active in Lincoln Symphony as well as church functions. Each summer he worked with the All-State Music Clinic for high school students.

Jack was known as a faculty member who showed great concern for individuals and his students with friendship extending beyond the members of the groups in which he participates, reaching many members of the university community both students and faculty.

Snider’s greatest pleasure is “his kids – seeing what they’ve done, watching them grow.” “One of the great things about the marching band is that it pulls kids from all areas of campus, from cattle ranchers to doctors.”

Jack Snider, 4/2/5/1983 Daily Nebraskan

After Jack passed away in February 2015, the Band Alumni Association chose to honor him by renaming the general fund the Jack R. Snider Band Alumni Association Fund. In addition, a scholarship was established in his name for marching band members to help students manage band-related expenses such as uniform dry cleaning, instrument maintenance, marching shoes and the credit hours required for participation in the band. Thanks to contributions from many of our alumni, we’ve been able to expand the number of scholarships offered and increase the amount of scholarship in the past five years.

Please consider a donation to to continue Jack’s legacy of helping the students he loved so much.

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