The Ohio State University Marching Band began in 1878 as a military drum corps that provided marching music for military exercises. In 1934, the band became an all-brass and percussion ensemble, and currently holds the distinction of being the world’s largest ensemble of that nature, boasting 225 members.
The Band Post explores the band’s preparation in choreography and music before putting up their final performances during the matches in the football season. We would like to thank their Interim Director for Marching and Athletic Bands at Ohio State, Dr. Christopher Hoch, for his valuable inputs.
We would like to wish OSUMB the very best for the NFL season which begins September 10, 2015!
There are as many as 100 college marching bands in the US; how does Ohio State set out to be different? What is the direction of the group?
Like many college marching bands, we have a number of traditions that make us unique.
Our traditional ramp entrance, the Script Ohio, and our all brass and percussion instrumentation are things that make us different.
However, as important as our traditions are to us, we also believe in looking ahead and trying new things.
We try to be on the cutting edge by incorporating new technologies into our every-day rehearsals, and by experimenting with new and innovative show designs. Animated formations, creative drill maneuvers, a wide variety of musical ideas, and props and special effects are all considered in our show designs.
Every year, the band is open for tryouts – what do these tryouts / auditions consist of? Do you also accept volunteers outside of the college?
Tryouts consist of a music audition that is worth 50% of the overall score and a series of marching auditions that are worth the other 50%.
All students who wish to try out must be registered as students at The Ohio State University (or at other universities that have agreements in place to allow students to take classes at OSU for credit at their own institutions.)
Our band members are students from throughout The Ohio State University, representing more than 40 different majors. They are high academic achievers, too — last year’s average GPA (grade point average) of band members was 3.6.
Apart from the football season, what other projects does the band embark on?
The marching band only exists during the fall semester – during the football season. Our Spring Athletic Band covers all performances during the spring semester.
The marching band, however, participates in more than just football games. The band performs in parades, band festivals, concerts, and other functions around the state of Ohio. We also perform at an NFL game each season, usually in Cincinnati or Cleveland.
In addition, we will be traveling to London, England, to perform for an NFL game in Wembley stadium this October.
Could you tell us about the planning process for the various shows during the season? What are the administration and people involved?
The planning process begins with our students.
We have a show planning meeting every March during which students submit show ideas to be considered for the upcoming season.
The band staff then considers each idea and comes up with the concepts that they feel will work best during the season.
Occasionally, we also get ideas from our music arrangers, from Alumni, or even from the general public.
The internet has seen some of the best videos such as the Michael Jackson Tribute and the Video Games Tribute. How is the music arranged? Who does them?
We have an arranging staff consisting of seven of the top arrangers in the United States. Each arranger writes one show per year for us. In this way, we get a wide variety of music to perform.
How does the management decide what music should be used in the next show – is the decision based on contributions by the members themselves or the public’s tastes with music?
Both! Students often have inputs in the initial show design process.
We always consider playing music that we think our students will enjoy, but we also try to appeal to our audiences.
How long does the band rehearse before each show? Is the show choreography often the most difficult part of the planning? If not, what is?
The band rehearses anywhere from one to three weeks for each show, depending on the football schedule.
Sometimes there is only one week between games, so we need to put together a show in one week. Occasionally there are times when there are three weeks between home games, so we may be lucky enough to enjoy some extra preparation time.
No one aspect of the show is the most difficult – it really just depends on what the arranger and the drill writer choose to write.
In the long run, what are the band’s goals? Are there any plans for the band to do an Asia tour?
Our goals are always the same – to put the best shows on the field that we can for each and every game.
We also strive to be outstanding citizens within our community, and to continue to have a positive impact on the people for whom we perform.
As of right now, there is no plan for a tour in Asia, but it is an idea to which we would be open!
A contributing editor at TBP.