Summer is normally a slow time for Ohio State sports outside of recruiting. All of the spring sports are done and none of the fall sports have started practice yet, meaning that outside of recruiting there is little in the way of news. That isn’t true for all things connected to OSU athletics though as the past week has been anything but quiet for the Ohio State University Marching Band.
As I have previously detailed, the tryout process for the OSUMB is very demanding and highly competitive and prospective band members start preparing for tryouts well in advance. Prospective band members will spend the summer practicing their marching and playing, memorizing school songs, and hitting the gym to get in shape. In addition to their individual work, many prospective members will also attend Summer Sessions.
Summer sessions are optional practice sessions held at the band’s practice field where prospective band members practice and learn the OSUMB marching fundamentals that they will be evaluated on at tryouts. Summer Sessions are normally held every Tuesday and Thursday night during the summer, starting near the beginning of June, with occasional extra sessions occurring on other days; a full calendar of this year’s Summer Sessions can be found here. Summer Sessions start at 5:30 pm for percussionists and 6:30 pm for everyone else and goes until 9:00 pm. Squad leaders and experienced members of last year’s band lead the sessions, teaching new people the basic fundamentals and helping everyone to improve and polish their marching and playing. While primarily designed to teach the fundamentals to new people, lots of members of the previous year’s band will attend the sessions in order to polish their skills; during my time I would say that the majority of members from the previous year would come back.
While Summer Sessions are entirely optional, the fear of doing poorly at tryouts and the desire to make the band motivate lots of new and returning people to sacrifice a lot of time to attend these sessions. While many attendees live in or near Columbus, there are a good number who commute a decent distance to attend. I lived in Michigan during most of the summers when I was at OSU and made the 3.5 hour drive each way to attend Summer Sessions on many occasions; the 3.5 hour drive there wasn’t too bad, the return trip after spending a couple hours marching was a lot tougher. I also knew people who would make the drive from Cleveland or Cincinnati as well as other places across the state. Anyone who is in Columbus who wants to see just how hard TBDBITL works should check out a Summer Session; there are plenty of places to sit and watch from the area around the field.
More Media Attention
Over the past couple of years TBDBITL has received a lot of media attention with videos of its shows going viral online and the band being talked about by media outlets all over the world; I still remember seeing the morning news here in Sydney, Australia talking about the video game show from 2 years ago. One of the band’s most popular shows was the Michael Jackson show from last year’s Iowa game which featured the band forming the moonwalking silhouette of the King of Pop; the show received over 10 million views on Youtube. Wednesday marked the 5th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death and of course a lot of attention was paid to his continuing legacy. An article posted on the Today Show’s website highlighted some of the ways Jackson’s music is still being performed today and TBDBITL’s show was the first thing that was mentioned.
TBDBITL on Your IPad
Last year the OSUMB debuted the use of IPads to help band members learn drill while on the practice field. This innovative idea helped band members better learn the complicated drill that was a key part of last year’s spectacular shows while also saving paper and printing costs. Apple took note of the attention that the band received for this and featured the band in one of their IPad commercials. The connection between the OSUMB and Apple products did not end with the commercial as the OSUMB has just released ‘OSUMB mobile’, an app for iOS devices (hopefully a version of the app for Android and Windows devices will be coming soon).
The part of the app that will most interest the average person is the main screen which features a selection of videos of the band which include last year’s highly acclaimed halftime performances (including such favorites as the Hollywood Blockbusters show and the previously mentioned Michael Jackson show) as well as a pregame performance, a Skull Session, and several other features about the band. While these video are great, there is far more to the app that will be of great interest to those who want to know more about the band and those wishing to try out for the band.
Under the ‘music’ section of the menu, one will find sheet music for the various school songs played by the band; from Buckeye Battlecry to Hang on Sloopy to Le Regiment de Sambre et Meuse, the music of Script Ohio, it is all there. For those looking to try out for the band, or just those who are more interested in how the sound of the band comes together, this sheet music is a great resource. Also included in the music section of the app is audio recordings of the school songs so that prospective band members can play along or fans can just enjoy the band playing their favorite songs. One criticism that I have about the app is that the sheet music does not include every part; for example only the second trumpet part is included while first and third trumpets are missing.
While music of course is very important to the OSUMB, the fact that it is a marching band means that marching is equally important. Fortunately there is a ‘marching’ menu that covers this. In the ‘marching’ menu, people can find videos demonstrating the various fundamentals of the OSUMB’s marching style for each instrument. Also included is a written description of the various fundamentals and how they should be performed. During tryouts, candidates will be called forward by their section leaders two at a time. They will then be told a drill consisting of various marching fundamentals which they will then have to perform for the section leaders. To help prospective band members prepare for this part of tryouts, the ‘marching’ section of the app features various sample drills, covering a range of difficulties. These sample drills allow prospective band members to practice getting a drill and then having to perform it.
Back when I was in the band, the only way that band members could learn the various fundamentals was to either go to Summer Sessions, find a past member of the band to work with, or watch a VHS tape that was mailed to you by the band. While the VHS tape was a fine way to learn the fundamentals, you obviously could not take it to the practice field with you. Thanks to this app, a prospective band member can now call up videos of the various fundamentals whenever they are at the practice field in order to make sure they are performing them correctly.
Back when I was preparing to tryout for the OSUMB, my Dad would often accompany me to the practice field and I would give him a list of the various fundamentals and I would ask him to put some together into a mock tryout drill for me. While he did a pretty good job, he didn’t fully understand what all the fundamentals were and thus he didn’t always put them together in a way that made sense or was necessarily possible. Fortunately the new OSUMB app solves this problem by including a nice range of mock tryout drills for prospective band members to practice with. These are a great asset to people looking to tryout for the band as they allow the prospective member to get an accurate feel of what tryout drills are like. One thing that I would like to see added would be videos of band members performing these various drills so that prospective members could see the various fundamentals performed in the context of the tryout drill and the transitions between fundamentals.
The new OSUMB app for iOS devices will be a great help to those preparing to try out for TBDBITL. It will also be a great resource for those who are fans of the band as it not only features videos of the band’s performance but it also gives a look into the behind-the-scenes aspects of the band and what it takes to make the band. This app should also help in recruiting people for the band as it is the only app by a college marching band that I know of. Now some people will sort of chuckle at the idea of recruiting for the band but it does actually serve as a good recruiting tool for the university. While I primarily came to Ohio State for academic and financial reasons, the marching band and the possibility of being in it were definitely a factor in my decision making; it also played a big role in my Dad being so happy with my decision considering the fact that his father was a Michigan graduate.