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.
Last week brought sad news for everyone connected to TBDBITL as Dr. James Moore, known to most as Doc, passed away at age 80. For over 20 years, until his retirement at the end of the 2004 season, Dr. Moore had served as the percussion instructor for the Ohio State Marching Band, contributing to evolution of the band and becoming a beloved figure to all band members
Dr. Moore didn’t have the background that one would necessarily expect for someone who would become such a major part of the Ohio State community. Doc was born in 1934 in Jackson, Michigan (birthplace of the Republican party, the coney island hot dog, former NFL coach Tony Dungy, and NASA astronaut James McDivitt). Not surprisingly for someone from a town only 40 miles away, Doc attended the University of Michigan for his bachelors and masters degrees. Fortunately at this point Doc’s eyes turned south and he attended Ohio State for his PhD.
Ohio State obviously made an impression on Dr. Moore and after a career that included three years in the US Army teaching at the Armed Forces School of Music in Washington, DC, he returned to OSU in 1981 as the percussion instructor for the marching band. While many people think of drummers as people who just hit things really loudly to help keep a beat and make noise, Doc knew that percussionists where just as musical as any other musician and he helped bring about many innovations that improved the musicality of the OSUMB percussion section. Dr. Moore introduced multiple tenor drums, known as toms or quads, and tonal bass drums (bass drums of different sizes and thus pitches) to the section. By having toms and bass drums with different pitches, the percussion section could now play melodic lines, enhancing the sound and color of the band.
When the Ohio State football team invaded enemy territory last weekend, they were not alone. Not only were they accompanied by thousands of Buckeye faithful who made it possible to get an ‘O-H-I-O’ cheer going around The Big House yet another year, the Ohio State Marching Band was also in attendance. This marked the fourth road game of the year for TBDBITL, a very busy season but one that has allowed tens of thousands of people, OSU fans and opposing fans, to see the band who would not normally see them due to not being able to attend a game in Columbus.
The band departed Columbus on Friday and headed north to Sandusky, Ohio where they performed a concert at the Kalahari Waterpark and Conference Center. A group of students from high schools in the Sandusky area had the privilege to spend part of the day with TBDBITL director Jon Waters where they got to learn about the band. Things got even better for those students when they got to play with the band on stage for part of the concert. I thought this was a very classy move on the part of the band, giving these high school students and their families a memory they will cherish forever while also doing a great job of recruiting for the band.
While people can debate about the proper reaction from fans to the football team’s 20 point win in their season opener, what cannot be debated is that the Ohio State Marching Band got the season off to a great start. Coming off an amazing 2012 season that featured several shows that received international attention, expectations for the band were sky high this season and with an a show featuring music from some of our favorite animated movies including Shrek, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Toy Story, and The Incredibles; TBDBITL showed that it is ready to meet and exceed those expectations.
Perhaps the most popular parts of last season’s shows were the animated formations and the band broke out a pair of them in this show: a dancing crab (at 3:15 in the video) and a superhero lifting a car (at 6:47). The tricky part of these animated formations is that you have created a recognizable image and thus everyone in the audience can tell if a mistake is made in forming or moving that image; more abstract formations are safer for a band as the audience cannot tell as easily if the formation is off from the design.
With only one day remaining until the start of the 2013 football season, last minute preparations are underway by thousands of people at Ohio State. While the football team and coaches are having their last practice and making their last tweaks to the game plan, stadium workers are finishing getting Ohio Stadium ready for over 100,000 fans, campus area bars are stocking up on beer and food, and fans are making sure all their gameday gear is out and ready. Another important part of the OSU gameday experience, the Ohio State Marching Band is also getting ready for their first game of the season.
While Buckeye fans have always known that the OSUMB is truly The Best Damn Band in the Land and the band has gotten prays from numerous sources over the years, the bands fame went up several notches last year due to a series of amazing shows, highlighted by the now famous video game show from the Nebraska game that went viral. That show is still getting talked about and it is featured in the battle of the bands contest being conducted on NCAA.com ; TBDBITL is currently leading but Texas A&M is still within striking distance so take a minute or two and go vote. The NCAA isn’t the only website giving the band some attention, ESPN is conducting a poll ranking the top college football traditions; currently Script Ohio is way down in 9th place and in need of some serious help. While all the attention that the band received last season was great, this season presents an even bigger opportunity for the band to get well deserved recognition thanks to the busiest performance schedule the band has ever had; TBDBITL will be performing at four away games in addition to home football games and some concerts and high school band festivals.
After two grueling days of tryouts featuring more than 400 people, 225 lucky individuals had their dreams come true tonight as they heard their names called as members of the 2013 Ohio State University Marching Band. As a TBDBITL alumnus, I know about the numerous hours of hard work required to prepare for tryouts; all the hours in the summer where you could be out working or hanging out with your friends but instead you are practicing your playing or marching up and down a field somewhere, making sure every aspect of your marching is perfect. I also remember the amazing feeling at hearing your name called and how that, and the season that followed, made all that hard work more than worth it. On behalf of everyone here at tBBC, I wish to congratulate the members of the 2013 OSUMB and wish a great season, continue to make us proud and to show everyone why you are known as TBDBITL. To those who tried out and didn’t make the band, I also know your disappointment but you should be proud of your efforts and hopefully you will tryout again next year and be better because of your experience; I also encourage you to be involved in the athletic band at OSU.
The hours after hearing their names called are a busy time for the band members. After some hugs and shared joy with friend and row mates, most band members will grab their cell phone and make some happy, excited calls to friends and family. After the phone calls, the party really starts and most rows go off to celebrate together, giving the new rookies and the veterans in the row a chance to get to know each other better and bond. The party can’t go too late though as everyone has to be up bright and early tomorrow for practice; it takes a lot of hard work to be worthy of being called The Best Damn Band In The Land.
This is an important week for Buckeye fans everywhere, after a long summer without OSU sports; things are finally kicking into high gear in preparation the fall sports season. On Monday the Ohio State football team hit the practice field for the first time this season, looking to continue their undefeated ways under Urban Meyer. While the football team is obviously the main attraction on fall Saturdays, there are other vital components that make gameday in Ohio Stadium so special.
Another key part of gamedays also got things going this week as today marked the beginning of tryouts for the Ohio State University Marching Band. The tryout process for the band is long and grueling and it plays a vital role in making sure the band lives up to its standard of excellence. Every member of the 225 person OSUMB must try out every year, this ensures that only the best people make the band each season and pushes everyone trying out, even the veterans, to work harder.
The tryout process begins with two candidate days which are designed to get all the candidates who have never been in the band before up to speed on TBDBITL’s marching style and fundamentals. While many new candidates know all the marching fundamentals from attending optional summer practices, which are held twice a week for most of the summer, working with a veteran, or using the marching fundamentals videos produced by the band (see example below), candidate days are designed so that a person who has never been exposed to the OSUMB’s style of marching could come in and be taught everything that they need to know to have a chance of making the band. Under the watchful eyes of the directing staff and the row leaders, who have already tried out for the directors, the candidates start at the beginning and work through all the marching fundamentals as well as having music rehearsals on schools songs and other music that is part of tryouts. Candidate days feature three hours of marching rehearsal and two hours of music rehearsal on Friday plus another six and half hours of marching on Saturday but the practice field is often filled with people working on their marching into the late hours of the day.