The Cavender Years
As both the Marching and Symphony Bands grew in prominence and recognition, more and more musicians from out of state came to study under Revelli and to play in the University of Michigan Band. In 1952, more than half of those trying out for placement in the Marching Band -- such as horn player, H. Robert Reynolds from Meadville, PA -- were from out of state.
1952 was also the year when George Cavender returned to the University of Michigan to assist William Revelli as Assistant Director of Bands -- a post he would hold for the next nineteen years. It was no surprise when Revelli called upon Cavender's services. In 1946, Cavender enrolled in the School of Music as a violinist and joined the band as a percussionist. Like thousands of other Michigan Band members, George Cavender was deeply inspired by the standards and quest for perfection that William Revelli exemplified. As Dick Smith, Drum Major of the 1952 Marching Band, would recall, Cavender "was enthusiastic" from the moment he arrived. "Everything he does is pretty much in the same vein. He tries to instill that enthusiasm in everyone." From 1952 to his retirement from the band in 1979, he preached that life was not worth living unless one gave "150%". Thousands of Michigan Band Alumni claim that their success in life is due in part to the motivation they received from George Cavender.
"You can't have one without the other"
During those "Golden Years", a personable young man who sat 17th chair in the trombone section of the Marching Band caught the attention of Revelli and Cavender with his genius and talent for arranging. Soon, the name of Jerry Bilik would become synonymous with the MMB with such classic arrangements as M Fanfare, Temptation, and The Hawaiian War Chant. With the combination of Revelli's uncompromising insistence on perfect sound production, Bilik's imaginative arrangements, and Cavender's entertaining, sophisticated and witty shows, the MMB became the most copied and admired marching band in the country. (Through the years, the talents of other gifted arrangers and composers were also nurtured by Revelli and Cavender -- Floyd Werle, Robert Jager, Robert Longfield, John Higgins, Albert Ahronheim, and John Stout to name a few.)
The Michigan "high step"
Throughout Cavender's long association with the Marching Band, he constantly "tinkered" with the pre-game show, experimented with instrument placement, refined the power high step, and devised many innovations in uniform design. He was a master showman and a brilliant educator. Each year, the Michigan Marching Band had to be "... better than..." the previous year -- a philosophy that still holds today.