While the outcome of the Orange Bowl was a disappointment for Ohio State fans, Buckeyes everywhere should still be proud of the season the team had and what Urban Meyer is building in Columbus. Fortunately there was one aspect of the Orange Bowl that OSU fans weren’t disappointed in and that was the performance of the Ohio State University Marching Band.
TBDBITL flew out of Columbus on the night of January 1st, arriving in Miami around midnight and heading to their hotel. January 2nd featured a pair of pep bands in the morning followed by a performance for the annual Buckeye Bash pep rally put on by the Ohio State Alumni Association where the band, cheerleaders, and Brutus helped to fire up a large crowd of the scarlet and grey faithful who had made the trip to Miami.
While disappointed that the football team’s loss in the Big Ten championship game kept them from making the National Championship game, Buckeye fans were comforted by the fact that the football team got a berth in the Orange Bowl meaning another BCS appearance and a game against a good opponent that gave the football team a chance to earn a lot of national respect. The Orange Bowl also meant a chance for Buckeye fans to escape cold, snowy Ohio and spend a few days in January enjoying warm, sunny Miami while cheering on their beloved team. The Ohio State Marching Band will also get a chance to experience the warmer weather but this is very much a work trip for them and band members won’t have very much time to relax on the beaches or live it up in the clubs and bars.
Bowl trips are always a lot of fun for the band and some of my best memories from my time as a member of TBDBITL were on bowl trips. However a bowl trip is a very different experience for a band member than it is for a fan. While there is normally some free time for band members to enjoy the bowl location, most of the trip is consumed by practices, pep rallies, parades, and other performances before the main event of the game. Following the game the band pretty much always heads straight for the airport for a red eye flight back to Columbus.
For decades Ohio State fans have known that no matter how the football team does on the field, the Ohio State University Marching Band always won at halftime. For the first 24 games of the Urban Meyer era, the football team also always did their part and OSU fans couldn’t have been happier. Unfortunately that winning streak came to an end on Saturday night but while Buckeye fans were disappointed with the outcome of the football game, fans couldn’t be disappointed with the pregame and halftime performances from the band.
Saturday was a long day for TBDBITL. After a morning rehearsal at Lucas Oil Stadium along with the Spartan Marching Band, the OSUMB performed at a pair of pep rallies, one put on by the OSU Alumni Society and the other put on by the Big Ten. Following the pep rallies, it was time for a trip back to Lucas Oil Stadium to get ready for pregame.
Both bands performed traditional pregame shows featuring lots of school songs to get their fans fired up for the game, the OSUMB’s pregame of course culminating in a double Script Ohio. Following their individual pregame performances, the two bands joined together on the field for the National Anthem, a classy move that provided a powerful performance that has drawn lots of praise from fans at the game.
To most Ohio State fans, the OSU-Indiana game was Senior Day for the football players. However it was also Senior Day for the marching band which saw the departing fourth and fifth year band members honored at the end of the halftime show; graduating members who have been in the band less than four years did not have their name read out during the ceremony. Senior Day is always a bitter sweet day for the band members as they perform for the last time in Ohio Stadium in the uniform that they earned through with years of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears.
The fans in the stadium may have been cold and bundled up due to the lightly falling snow but the band quickly got them on their feet and cheering with the traditional pregame show. The light snow fall actually helped to accentuate the skill of the band as the band members left footprints in the snow; check out the end of the first video where following ramp you can clearly see how each band member stepped in the footprint of the member in front of them, leaving only 8 blank spaces in the snow every five yards.
The show for the Indiana game was obviously going to be the show that the band would take to Michigan and thus this highly influenced the choice of show theme. As a tradition, the band almost always takes a patriotic themed show to M*ch*g*n. This is done knowing that due to the bitterness of the rivalry, the M*ch*g*n fans are going to boo the band and in theory that will be limited with a patriotic show as even Wolverines wouldn’t boo America. From my experience this generally works and the Michigan fans just have to get all their booing in during pregame. Personally I didn’t mind the booing during pregame, and I know many other band members who felt the same way, as it actually fired us up as we prepared to take the field.
This year the band decided to use their patriotic show to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg and President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. After the season the band has had, expectations were obviously very high for the band and while the band could easily have gotten cheers by just playing a few patriotic tunes and forming an American flag, anyone who knows TBDBITL knows that they would never settle for such a thing. Instead, the band came up with a show that serves as a perfect cap to a phenomenal season.
After forming an ‘1863’ on the field to music from the movie Gettysburg at the start of the show, the band quickly drew cheers as they formed a trio of soldiers marching across the field with a battle flag waving while playing “Battle Cry of Freedom”. The band then transitioned to a Confederate and a Union soldier who were thinking about home to the strains of “Home, Sweet Home”. Next up was “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and a cavalry officer with sword on horseback. Perhaps the most famous speech ever given by a president was Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and as the words of that speech were read, the band played music from Gettysburg and “Taps” while forming the Lincoln Memorial. For the finale, the band was joined by the Ohio State Men’s Glee Club for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Not content with the two animated formations they had already done, the band formed and fired a cannon and then had a Confederate and Union soldier shake hands during the finale.
This was another great show that had a bit of everything we want for an OSUMB performance: the animated formations the band has become famous for, some more modern line and block drill, props, pyrotechnics,… The music selection for the show also did a great job showing off the sound and range of the band; compare the sound of the band during the music from the movie Gettysburg and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” to see the perfect example of the band’s range. The show, like so many done over the past two seasons by TBDBITL, got a lot of attention in the media, showing up on Fox Sports, Deadspin, the UK’s Daily Mail, Huffington Post, and many others.
After the game, the band performed their normal postgame concert on the field before marching up the ramp and under the stadium where the seniors were dismissed for the last time at a home game. This march back up the ramp is a very emotional moment for all the departing band members as they know that was the last time they will perform in Ohio Stadium.
A House Divided?
The band taking a Civil War themed show to M*ch*g*n is sort of appropriate as like the war, it is a bitter rivalry that divides families and friends. As much as it pains us, most of us probably have at least one friend who is a Wolverine and many of us probably know families that are split between the two schools; my grandfather actually went to M*ch*g*n and my dad cheered for the Wolverines until I went to OSU and he saw the light (somehow I always had a fondness for OSU as a photo of myself in an OSU jersey from when I was 5 proves).
It isn’t my story that I wish to talk about this week; rather, it is the story of Liz McIntosh-Russell (@osumarchingmom) and her son Phil. Phil is a 5th year sousaphone player in the OSUMB who has been a three time i-dotter (September 1st, 2012 against Miami (Ohio), September 7th, 2013 against San Diego State, and November 2nd, 2012 at Purdue). So Liz of course is a proud mother of band member but there are lots of those, what makes this story interesting? Well, in addition to being the mother of a member of the OSUMB, Liz is also an alumnus of the M*ch*g*n Marching Band where she was their first ever female sousaphone player. Big Ten marching bands are traditionally quite masculine and sousaphone sections are even more so. Thus to be the first female member of the MMB was “pretty crazy” as Liz puts it; she recounted how MMB director George Cavender would stop during rehearsal and say to the trumpets “There’s a girl in the tuba section!” 60 Minutes Australia even did a short piece on Liz when they were at a Michigan because as Liz puts it, “women just didn’t play the big horn all that much at the time.”
Being in the MMB obviously gave Liz a different perspective on the rivalry than OSU fans get. She recalled the 1978 game played in Columbus where the MMB staff decided that the band would form a script ‘State’ while playing the OSU fight song. The sousaphones completed the formation by marching down and crossing the ‘Ts’, complete with the traditional i-dotter bow. As Liz remembers, “It was NOT well received. Knowing what I know now about Script Ohio and tradition, I am surprised we made it out alive.”
When it came time for Phil to decide on where to go to college, at first he was going to follow in his mother’s footsteps and attend that school up North. Phil’s audition for the M*ch*g*n School of Music didn’t go well though and he was not admitted to the school. Phil and his mom decided to attend the OSU School of Music orientation session on a whim and while there Phil turned to his mom and said “this feels like home” and she agreed. Phil auditioned for the OSU School of Music and was accepted.
Phil’s first tryout for the OSUMB did not go as well but he stuck with it, staying in Columbus the summer after his freshman year so that he could practice for tryouts more. Phil’s second year of trying out was more successful and he made the band and eventually went on to become an i-dotter. Phil graduated last May with a Bachelors of Music Education and chose to take a class at OSU this fall so he could be in the band for the final year of his eligibility (a member can only be in TBDBITL for 5 years).
Despite her being in the M*ch*g*n Marching Band for a short time, she left early to join the Navy, Liz has become a complete Buckeye fan thanks to Phil’s experiences as a student and musician at Ohio State. See, not only is TBDBITL highly skilled and entertaining, they also have the power to transform Wolverine fans into Buckeyes.
This week is always a busy one for the band. Everyone loves to put on pep rallies and events for M*ch*g*n week and the band is flooded with requests for a pep band from all around the state. While most of these get turned down as there is just no way for the band to make all of them and still have time to do things like rehearse, eat, sleep, study, etc. There are some pep bands the band does and band members will be busy this week performing at various events; fortunately the Beat M*ch*g*n pep rallies tend to be a lot of fun for the band.
The fact that the game has been moved to the Saturday after Thanksgiving makes this week even busier and more hectic for band members. While there will be a little time to enjoy the holiday, band members shouldn’t eat too much turkey because while the rest of you are sleeping or out shopping on Friday, the band will be reporting to the stadium to load buses and head north. It has been a long standing tradition of the band to honor Woody Hayes by never staying in That State Up North and thus the band normally will spend the Friday night before a game in Ann Arbor or East Lansing in a hotel in the Toledo area. As part of the trip, the band also traditionally performs a concert somewhere in the Toledo area. This year the concert will be at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio on Friday at 7:30pm; tickets for the concert can be ordered from the OSU Alumni Club of Erie County.
Celebrating a great senior day, and getting ready for The Game… but this was too good not to post ASAP.
For the third time this season the Ohio State University Marching Band joined the football team on the road, this time traveling to Urbana-Champaign for the game against the University of Illinois; earlier in the year the band traveled to Cal and Purdue. Like most band trips, this one was rather busy with little free time for the band members; after the approximately 4.5 hour bus trip from Columbus, the band arrived at their hotel on Friday night around 10:30 pm central time and was at the university, in full uniform, for practice the next morning shortly after 8 am. Following the game, the band boarded the buses for the trip back to Columbus making for a rather quick, tiring trip that was still longer than the day trip for the Purdue game.
For the third time this season TBDBITL performed its now famous “Hollywood Blockbusters show which has now been viewed by over 14 million people on Youtube. The popularity and impact of the show was made very apparent by the loud, enthusiastic reactions of the fans at the game and from comments on Twitter and message boards by Illini fans after the game.
The Ohio State football team may have had last weekend off but the Ohio State Marching Band was hard at work during their annual concert week. Being a marching band, most of the OSUMB’s performances are on the football field and those performances are obviously what the band is most known for. The music arrangers for the OSUMB do a great job of arranging music to take advantage of the band’s sound and musicality and the band does an outstanding job of focusing on music, as well as marching, when they are on the field and producing some great sounding shows. However, on the field the band is dividing their attention, and their energy, between marching and playing and this does have an effect. Indoor concerts allow the band to show off the full extent of their musical abilities as they only need to focus on their playing, plus they can take advantage of proper acoustics that are present in concert halls. This year’s concert week featured concerts in Van Wert, Ohio, a performance for Columbus school kids at Veterans Memorial in Columbus, and the annual public concert at Veterans Memorial.
The concert week performances feature the band playing a selection of school songs as well as the music from the year’s halftime shows. It also features one very important event, the awarding of the Most Inspirational Bandsperson Award. The MIB is awarded to each year to the person that the band members find to be the most inspirational, the best leader, and the person who best exemplifies all the great qualities of TBDBITL. What makes this award even more special is that it is voted on by the band members themselves and they alone determine the winner. Now I think we all remember when we were in college and I don’t think anyone would be surprised if a vote like this was just a popularity contest. The vote doesn’t work this and the maturity of the band members shows through each year in their choices, a great example of this was when they presented the award to Kris Frey Tikson last year (http://www.ourhonordefend.com/2012/11/osu-vs-michigan-tbdbitl-preview.php ) (read the linked story to understand why). This year’s award was presented to drum major David Petit who had some great words to say about what being drum major this season has meant to him.
When the football team hit the road this weekend to try and exorcise the demons that have plagued them recently in West Lafayette, they were not alone. In addition to the legion of scarlet and grey fans that descended on Ross-Ade Stadium, the Ohio State University Marching Band was also present — further eroding Purdue’s home field advantage. This marked the football team’s third road game of the season and the second one in which the band was present. In the past the band only tended to travel to one road game each season, plus the bowl game, but thanks to the increase in funding for the band orchestrated by former university president Gordon Gee, the band is able to go on more away games this season.
While their supposedly “World’s Largest Bass Drum” (Texas has also claimed this title), tends to get all the attention, Purdue’s All-American Marching Band is one of the best bands in the Big Ten and in the country.
The Big Ten is really spoiled in terms of the quality of their marching bands. It’s like the SEC is in football except better and without the shady recruiting tactics. The quality and achievements of the Purdue band are even more remarkable due to the fact that Purdue does not have a school of music, being primarily an engineering school; as an interesting not, the OSUMB does not have all that many music majors in it and the most common major among band members has actually tended to be engineering. Thus fans were treated to seeing two excellent bands performing, the same obviously cannot be said for the football teams.