Metallica Unveils Marching-Band Competition Winners, Selected by Band



In one of the more inspired artist-related competitions we’ve seen in recent years, the members of Metallica have selected the best marching band covers of their songs in the “For Whom the Band Tolls” matchup.

The winners, who split nearly $200,000 in prizes, showed an inspired variety of interpretations, usually performing a medley of the band’s hits.

First-place winner Auburn University is arguably the most inspired, beginning their performance of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in a formation shaped like five bells that then morphed into the band’s logo, then musical notes, lightning bolts, and more; their next song, “Master of Puppets,” found them in the shape of an electric guitar, lit up by synchronized lighting. The performance also featured dramatic lighting and a very traditional marching band arrangement, while others incorporated electric guitars or bass and were more rock in format. Eastern Mexico University focused more on the basics — marching and musical performance — while Dobyns-Bennett High School in Tennessee also showed impressive stagecraft and dramatic lighting.

The winners were chosen from more than 450 submissions from colleges and high schools across the U.S. The field was narrowed down to five finalists in each category by professional judges, furnished by premiere marching band instrument manufacturers Conn Selmer, with first prize in each category ultimately awarded by Metallica.

College (Division 1) – $75,000 in prizing: Auburn University

College (Divisions 2 & 3) – $40,000 in prizing: Eastern New Mexico University

High School (Large) – $15,000 in prizing: Dobyns-Bennett High School (Kingsport, TN)

High School (Medium) – $15,000 each in prizing: 

TIE – Boerne High School (Boerne, TX) & Malverne High School (Malverne, NY)

High School (Small) – $15,000 in prizing:  Oakton High School (Vienna, VA)

Additionally, two Fan Favorite winners—one Collegiate (across all divisions) and one High School—have been determined by popular vote and will receive $10,000 each in prizing.

Fan Favorite (College): Auburn University

Fan Favorite (High School): Dobyns-Bennett High School (Kingsport, TN)

The competition was presented by Metallica, Tama, Sweetwater, KHS America, Zildjian, D’Addario Woodwinds, Evans Drumheads, ProMark, Gator, Conn Selmer, and Hal Leonard Music.

The victors in each category will receive instruments and equipment for their programs at the values listed above, provided by Metallica and sponsors including TAMA, KHS America, Zildjian, D’Addario Woodwinds, Evans Drumheads, ProMark, and Gator, in partnership with Sweetwater, Conn Selmer, and Hal Leonard.

The Metallica Marching Band Competition promises to be a yearly national challenge to marching bands of all levels. For further information, please go to


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