The Ohio State University Marching Band

The Ohio State University Marching Band
The Ohio State University Marching Band
School The Ohio State University
Location Columbus, Ohio
Conference Big Ten
Founded 1878
Director Jon R. Woods
Assistant director Jonathan Waters
Members 225
Fight song Across the Field, Buckeye Battle Cry
Uniform Navy jacket and pants. White crossbelts, white gloves, black shoes with white vinyl spats. Peaked caps with scarlet and gray plumes.

The Ohio State University Marching Band (often called The Best Damn Band in the Land or TBDBITL[1]) performs at Ohio State football games and other events during the fall quarter. It is one of the few all-brass and percussion bands in the country, perhaps the largest of its type in the world.[2]



The 2008 Ohio State marching band performing before the Cleveland Browns season opening game of the 2008 season.

Military training was an important part of the early curriculum at Ohio State, and a band was formed to provide music to the cadets for drills. Organized in 1878, the band was a student led organization until 1896. Gustav Bruder, a professional musician with military band experience, was hired to lead the band. Under Bruder, the band grew in size and began playing and marching for all military and athletic events. OSUMB has soared over the years, from 100 members in 1920 to 225 members today. Women first joined the band in 1974 following the passage of Title IX legislation. Today, approximately 20% - 25% of the band's members are women each year.

Many marching band innovations were first tried and developed at Ohio State. Among them are: floating and animated formations, measured step marching, script writing, and the fast cadence with a high knee lift. Brass instruments especially designed for marching bands were also first used at Ohio State.[3] In 1934 the OSUMB adopted an all brass-and-percussion instrumentation, one of the first collegiate bands to do so.

The school fight songs—"Buckeye Battle Cry" and "Fight the Team Across the Field"—were first performed in the early 20th century. Other traditional songs performed by the band are the '60s pop hit "Hang on Sloopy" and the famous "We Don't Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan", which was popularized by James Thurber in the Broadway production of The Male Animal.[4]

Tryout Process

Summer Sessions

Starting in June, volunteers from the marching band, under guidance of the directing staff, conduct twice weekly teaching sessions known as Summer Sessions. These sessions are two hours long in the evenings and teach every possible fundamental used in the marching style of the band. The very first session starts with the very basics of marching band: standing still at attention or parade rest. Students who try out for the band come from a very wide array of backgrounds, including drum and bugle corps, "corps style" marching bands, "swing style" marching bands, and even for some zero marching band experience. Summer Sessions help to teach even those who have never marched how to march in the style of the OSU band. Every session adds a different fundamental to the mix, and typically marching and playing even simple things such as scales is accomplished by the second or third session. All previously taught fundamentals are constantly reviewed, so in essence someone could start into the Summer Sessions program late and be caught up with everyone else within a few sessions.

Summer Sessions not only teach marching fundamentals, but also musicianship. Warmups with various brass and percussion exercises are taught, and all who attend are given a copy of the school songs packet, which is a packet of music that includes the school fight songs, Alma Mater, National Anthem, as well as other well-known songs such as "Hang On, Sloopy!" and "Le Regiment" to name a few. The songs are rehearsed every week, to help students begin to memorize the roughly dozen or so songs required during each the marching season.

The week before tryouts typically sees four days in a row of Summer Sessions, which is typically done to catch those people up who may live out of state and move to Columbus before school starts, or for those who participate in drum and bugle corps, whose competitive seasons usually end mid-August.


Each fall more than 400 student-musicians compete for one of the 225 open slots in the band. Every member must try out each year. Students who have not made the band before are required to attend "Candidate Days." This is a two-day event that compresses everything learned during the Summer Sessions into two eight-hour practices. These are typically held Sunday and Monday of Tryout Week. Tuesday and Wednesday are reserved for the actual try-out audition sessions. Drill and fundamentals are judged and scored by the row squad leaders, with oversight from the directing staff.

Music auditions are heard by School of Music faculty assisted by well-known instructors with other college or high school bands or drum and bugle corps instructors from the area. Most of the brasswind auditions are heard by the School of Music brass staff, while the percussion is heard by both School of Music staff as well as those with drum and bugle corps staff experience. Music and marching are judged equally and satisfactory grades in both areas are necessary. The directing staff has final say on all members who make the band. Roughly 100 people will be cut from the band roster on Wednesday afternoon. The remaining people will go through one more tryout session before "Make the Band Night." During "Make the Band Night," everyone who tried out earlier that afternoon (that wasn't cut in the late morning) assembles in the rehearsal hall and listen quietly as the director reads the names of who made the band in order of their rows. Everyone then leaves the room very quietly, in respect to those who did not make it.

Thursday and Friday of Tryout Week are then used to learn the Pre-Game and Halftime shows which are performed alongside the OSUMB Alumni Band.



An image of the 2008 Ohio State marching band spelling out "Browns" before the Browns 2008 season opener.

The band consists of 225 instrumentalists. 192 of these create the block band that is seen at every home game. The other 33 members are called alternates. These are members of the band who challenge the regular members every week for a spot in the 192-piece block. The alternates also understudy the week’s halftime show with the squad leader in case someone gets sick or injured before the performance. All music is memorized, verified during music checks each Friday. On game day the alternates help move equipment around if the show has props or a pit, otherwise they are led by the assistant drum major and stand at attention (minus instruments) along the SE end of the field. The band block consists of lettered rows ABCEFHIJKLMQRSTX and D. D row is not considered a part of the block as D row is the Drum Major, Assistant Drum Major, and Drum Major(s) in training.

The rows are paired in sister rows as follows: A-X, B-T, C-S, E-R, F-Q, H-M, I-J, K-L. Each row in the 192 block band contains the following:

While the brass-only configuration has been unvarying since 1934, the instrumentation has been subject to experimentation over the years. For several decades, slide trombones were replaced by valved "Tromboniums" manufactured by King Musical Instruments; by 1970 they had adopted the large-bore Conn 90G, prepared by Conn at the OSUMB's instigation. Slide trombones returned to the band in 1980. Tromboniums last marched in the OSUMB block at the 1982 Alumni Reunion game.

Student Staff

As well as the 225 marching and playing members of the band, there are 14 additional student staff members who do not march. The Student Staff are responsible for the day to day happenings on the student level of the band. There are three Heads of Staff who are in charge of three separate areas. The Head Secretary oversees the secretary’s office, the Head Manager oversees the Staff Managers, and the Head Treasurer oversees the money made off of purchases of CDs and other collectibles. The 14 member Student Staff breaks down as follows:

The band during pregame.
  • Head Treasurer and record fund manager
  • Head Secretary, two assistant secretaries and one librarian/secretary
  • Head Manager oversees the two uniform managers, one seamstress, two instrument managers, and two A/V technicians.

All Staff members wear the OSUMB uniform and work throughout the entire school year in the band offices. The Student Staff and Alternates are in charge of holding the ladders for the directors for stability and for an official look on the field and sometimes perform a task known as “Ramp Guard” in which they line the on-field section of the ramp as a blockade for people who may be walking alongside the field. Uniformed staff members can fill a gap in the band, marching with a suitable instrument if needed.


Script Ohio

Script Ohio. Jack Nicklaus is seen dotting the i.

Script Ohio, the signature formation of The Ohio State University Marching Band, is performed before home games. Script Ohio was first performed by The Ohio State Marching Band on October 24, 1936 at the Ohio State versus University of Indiana football game. According to The Ohio State University Library, a similar floating formation was first performed during the 1932 season by the University of Michigan Marching band.[5][6]

The Script Ohio is the most identifiable trademark associated with Ohio State Football and The Ohio State University Marching Band. It was devised by band director Eugene J. Weigel, who based the looped "Ohio" script design on the marquee sign of the Loew's Ohio Theatre in downtown Columbus.[7]

The script is an integrated series of evolutions and formations. The band first forms a triple Block O formation, then slowly unwinds to form the famous letters while playing Robert Planquette's Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse. The drum major leads the outside O into a peel-off movement around the curves of the script, every musician in continual motion. Slowly the three blocks unfold into a long singular line which loops around, creating the OSUMB's trademark.

Each time the formation drill is performed, a different fourth- or fifth-year sousaphone player has the privilege of standing as the dot in the "i" of "Ohio." Because the Script Ohio formation was one of many new formations included by director Weigel, no extra emphasis was placed on the dotting. Originally, an E-flat cornet player, John Brungart, was the first "i"-dotter. Brungart dotted the "i" two more times that season, in performances during halftime shows against Pittsburgh and Chicago. In the fall of 1937, Weigel turned to Glen Johnson, a sousaphone player, and shouted, "Hey, you! Switch places with the trumpet player in the dot." A year later, when the drum major arrived at the top of the "i" three or four measures too early, Johnson turned and bowed to the crowd to use up the rest of the music. The crowd roared, and the bow has been part of the show since then.[8] Glen then became the first sousaphone player to dot the "i" on October 23, 1937. Since then, a sousaphone player has dotted the "i" over 800 times.[9]

Today, toward the end of the formation, drum major and the "i"-dotter high-five each other. Then with 16 measures to go in the song, they strut to the top of the "i". When they arrive, the drum major points to the spot, and the "i"-dotter turns and bows deeply to both sides of the stadium.[10]

At the 2009 Ohio State-USC game, sousaphonist Frank Cosenza Jr. took his position dotting the "i". In the course of taking his bow, the bell of the sousaphone struck the cameraman filming him.[11]

Honorary "i"-dotters

Woody Hayes, Bob Hope, Jack Nicklaus, James "Buster" Douglas, John Glenn and his wife Annie Glenn, OSU Presidents Novice Fawcett, Gordon Gee and their wives, composer the late Richard "Dick" Heine, Ann Droste, wife of retired director and former OSUMB member Dr. Paul Droste, and retired OSU ticket director Robert Ries are the select few non-band members who have had the honor of dotting the "i". OSU alumnus, and current Chairman and CEO of The Limited Brands Leslie Wexner became the most recent honorary "tittle", dotting the "i" on home side at the OSU-Akron game on September 3, 2011. Wexner was given this opportunity as a sign of gratitude and appreciation for his continued support for all of the university's academic pursuits. This is considered the greatest honor the band can bestow to any non-band member and is an extremely special (and rare) event. The fourth or fifth year Sousaphone player selected to dot the "i" for that specific game must give up their spot in order for an honorary member to dot the "i".

On November 19, 2011, Dr. Jon Woods, the marching band's director for the previous 28 years, dotted the "i" in his final home game directing the band. He was informed of the nomination by the band with a written note given to him in a special closed ceremony that morning. The November 19, 2011 was a very special game containing two performances of Script Ohio, the first in its traditional pregame spot featured senor sousaphone player Jonathan Lampley dotting the "i". Dr. Woods dotted the "i" in a special second performance of Script Ohio during halftime.[12]

Skull Session

The OSUMB arrives in St. John Arena for the Skull Session. The detail of the Drum Major and Assistant Drum Major uniforms can be seen.

During the Skull Session fans are treated to a variety of activities. Each week the band's "cheer groups" perform a song to go along with the football team's opponent of the week. The cheer groups are selected from their respective sections: Trumpet Cheers (the oldest Cheer Group), Trombone Cheers, Horn Cheers, Baritone Cheers, Stadium Brass (An instrument from every part of the band except percussion), Percussion Cheers (playing Wipeout) and the Tuba-Fours. At some point after the performances, a recent addition to the proceedings introduced by former Head Coach Jim Tressel, the football team enters to the sounds of "Fanfare for a New Era". Immediately after their entrance a pre-selected Senior football player speaks to the band and fans amassed in St. John Arena followed by the Head Coach. Upon the football team's exit, the band commences with the traditions associated with the Skull Session. This includes performance of "Fight the Team Across the Field" first softly and slowly, and on the repeat of the chorus, at well beyond the normal dynamics and tempo. The band is also known for performing Eternal Father, Strong to Save, otherwise known as The Navy Hymn to formally begin every skull session concert. If a visiting band is in attendance they will perform their pre-game and halftime show, followed by the OSUMB's performance of pre-game and halftime.

Ramp Entrance

The Ramp entrance is known as one of the most highly regarded traditions among band members, as well as extremely physically demanding. It can be known as three of the most grueling minutes a band member will endure, but, as accounted hundreds of times, one of tremendous pride for a member's accomplishments to be able to march ramp with The Ohio State University Marching Band.

The percussion section (JI Row) is the first to march down the ramp, and onto the field; not to cadences, rather cheers at a precise tempo of 180 beats per minute (bpm). The snare drums perform a unique arm swing as everyone clearly chants O-H-I-O, OHIO over and over. A series of elaborately timed flanking maneuvers called the power "V" leads JI Row into their respective file in the block.

The "Ramp" cadence is then played exactly 17 times in a row, also at 180 bpm, as the other rows in the band file down the ramp, onto the field, and into their respective positions. Once a row is placed, the members mark time until all rows are into position.

As the final two rows, T and X file in, their squad leaders nod to the two sousaphone row's (KL Row) squad leaders, who then sound a loud blast on their whistles. The entire band responds to this call with a deafening yell of "Whistle!". After the last Ramp cadence is played, a roll-off is played, while the entire band (except JI Row) performs a conversion step maneuver, and a horns-up.

The band proceeds to play the intro of Buckeye Battle Cry while marking time. This is followed by the verse, while the band goes into what is referred to as a "half-time step" (mark time); one step per every two beats. During the verse, a member's leg lift (completion of a full chair step) is crucial to a clean and precision view from the crowd. Also, during the verse, KL Row performs a special horn flash in which they tilt their bells slightly back, and swing their entire upper body, including their horn, to the tempo of their step.

After the completion of the verse, the band proceeds to march southward down the field to two choruses of Buckeye Battle Cry. The band then executes a "halt, kick, down", followed by a "step-forward about-face".

The Back Bend

During the introduction and verse of Buckeye Battle Cry, the drum major struts through the band and comes to the front of the ranks where he executes a back bend, forming his or her body into the shape of an O. As the drum major’s plume touches the turf, the band starts to play two choruses of the Buckeye Battle Cry while marching toward the South Stands. The drum major reaches the end zone and tosses the baton through the goal post as the band finishes the downfield march. The opposing team's fight song is played as a salute to their university returning the band to midfield before completing the pregame performance which typically includes the highly acclaimed Script Ohio.


A stylized representation of the current uniform worn by The Ohio State University Marching Band

The OSUMB uniform is a complex outfit with many parts. The entire uniform consists of: Plume, Hat, Eagle Ohio, red beret with Diamond Ohio patch, short sleeve white dress shirt, black wool military tie, OSUMB black jacket, cross belts, breast plate for belts, waist plates for belts, black trousers with appropriate attaching (belt or suspenders), spats, gloves, and military dress shoes.

Early years

The current OSUMB uniform is very different from the earliest uniforms. The earliest band uniforms were military in style and were pieced together from U.S. military uniforms, particularly the Ohio State Navy ROTC cadet uniform. These uniforms were of the Prussian style with high collars and not too dissimilar in style to the modern US Marine dress uniform. The first hats worn by the band were of the Pershing style of military visor cap with military “peace” eagles as the hat emblem and “powder puff” plumes of red and gray dye. These plumes were called “powder puff” because of the very fine, almost down-like feathers with which they were constructed.

modern Eagle Ohio

Throughout the years the uniform changed just as the suppliers changed. When the OSUMB was placed under control of the ROTC, the uniforms became more standard. The ROTC required every band member to purchase their own uniform from the Lily Ames Co. in Columbus, Ohio. These uniforms were US Army blue with golden buttons with a shield of the Great Seal of Ohio on each button. The band had a shoulder patch that was placed on the right shoulder which was a red and gray oval. The left arm was reserved for a red shield patch that read U.S. R.O.T.C. The hat took on a more modern look as well, looking more like the modern military style hat. The chin strap was a rich golden color, adding color to the otherwise navy blue hat. The peace eagle remained, but an addition was made to the eagles, an extra banner that arced above the E. Pluribus Unum banner from the eagle’s beak. This banner simply read “OHIO,” earning the OSUMB’s peace eagles the nickname “Eagle Ohio.” These early Eagle Ohios were made in gold colored metal to match the buttons and chin strap of the uniform jacket and hat. The plumes took on more of the stick style that is still seen today. The uniform also consisted of West Point-style cross belts, military issue dress shoes, cloth spats, and white cotton gloves. Kappa Kappa Psi, the national honorary band fraternity, designed a special recognition bar for wear on band uniforms by brothers during these early days of college bands. This recognition bar is the same size and shape as a military ribbon, though made of metal. The bar is blue and white, separated along a diagonal axis, with the Greek letters K K Ψ along this diagonal. The letters are gold. This bar was to be worn on uniforms in the same manner as military ribbons, and the OSUMB allowed all KKY brothers to wear this bar.

Kappa Kappa Psi Recognition Bar, worn up until the 1960s.

1950s - 1980s

During the 1950s, the OSUMB ended ties with the ROTC, and around the same time, the Lily Ames Co. closed its doors. OSU bought the remaining uniforms from Lily Ames for use by the band. The band had custom patches created to be sewn on to the jacket shoulders. The right shoulder held a gray circular patch with a red buckeye leaf and around the edge of the patch read: The Ohio State University Buckeyes. The Left shoulder patch was a miniature of The Ohio State University seal. The patch was red with the edge reading: The Ohio State University ..Columbus.. (the Columbus was placed between two cylinders giving the impression of the Columbus as being on a rolled scroll). On the lower right sleeve, a golden five-point star pointing downwards was sewn on to indicate a section leader. During this time, Tau Beta Sigma, the national honorary band sorority, became active in the OSUMB as well, even though women were not permitted to be in the band on the field. At this point, all of the sisters of the sorority were given unique uniforms. The sisters wore the same jacket, shirt, and tie as the band members. The sisters wore long military-style dress skirts, hose, and female style military dress shoes. The sisters wore their TBΣ recognition bar (identical to the fraternity version) on their uniforms.

During the 1960s and 1970s, these uniforms were becoming outdated and needed to be replaced. The Fechheimer Bros. of Cincinnati created the next batch of uniforms for OSU. These uniforms were the same navy blue as the previous uniforms, except the buttons were changed to silver. At this time the chin straps were also changed to a silver material, and the Eagle Ohio was also forged in a silver metal instead of gold. The plumes took on the modern red and gray appearance and were constructed of tough turkey feathers to last. The spats were changed from cloth to vinyl during this time as well. The shoulder patches changed material, and for a period were manufactured on a red or gray felt-like material, giving the patches a fuzzy appearance. The uniforms changed very little from the 70s until 1988, except for things like hat manufacturer, a short period in which a large metal diamond Ohio replaced the Eagle Ohio, and the use of aluminum hat bands instead of the silver fabric type. During the directorship of Charles Spohn, the Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma recognition bars were banned from being worn on the uniform. This makes the OSUMB one of the very few marching bands that prohibits the wear of the recognition bar.

1988 remodel

This is one of the buttons on the OSUMB uniform. The detail of the Great Seal of Ohio can be easily seen.

In 1988, Dr. Jon Woods commissioned the newest form of OSUMB uniform. The Fechheimer Bros. also constructed these uniforms. Everything visible was changed to some extent. These uniforms debuted for the homecoming game in 1989. The list of changes is as follows:

  • Hat: The hat now comes from the Bayly Co. and resembles the U.S. military hat to an extent. The top of the hat is still Navy Blue, but the hat band became red with silver piping instead of the dark blue pattern material seen on US Air Force hat bands. The chin strap was created out of the same silver cloth material. The Eagle Ohio was cleaned up and created out of more metal to make the eagle more easily withstand the rigors of OSUMB maneuvers. For the first time the hat also came with a built in plume socket. Before this all plumes had to be attached directly behind the Eagle Ohio, which caused wear and tear on the front fabric of the hat.
  • Beret: The band uses military-style red berets. These berets are to be worn in the way that the U.S. Army wears their berets. Instead of a U.S. military black shield, there is a diamond shaped patch featuring a symbol of the OSU Marching Band; the Diamond Ohio.
  • Jacket: The jackets were restyled to be more friendly to rugged marching, while still keeping the appearance of the military style. The changes included thicker material and extension slots behind the shoulders which allowed for greater arm movement in the uniform. The patches were enlarged slightly, but still contained the same designs as the original patches from the 1950s. A diagonal red stripe with silver edging was placed on the outer half of the jacket sleeves. The shoulder straps on the uniform were now sewn down, with fake buttons placed for image. The sewn shoulder straps were stronger than the buttoned-down shoulder straps, and designed as such because the demands of the OSUMB marching style put stress on them and caused buttons to pop off.
  • Cross Belts: Because of the redesigned shoulder straps, the cross belts also needed to be redesigned. The original style were of one piece construction that were adjustable at the waist plate and by adjusting bars on the shoulder loops. The shoulder straps unbutton, the pre-crossed belts slide under them, and the straps are buttoned again. The current cross belts are still one piece, but the shoulder loops button onto the front waist belt section so that the shoulder loop can be passed through the sewn-down shoulder straps.
  • Trousers: The trousers were marching band-style pants, which, when properly worn, button and zip up roughly around the mid section of the abdomen instead of the waist. The pants have either button or zipper expansion/contraction capabilities on the side seams for the waist area. The pants are able to be worn using three different means of support: belt, button suspenders, or tab suspenders.
  • Spats: The spats are still of the vinyl type.
  • Shoes: The shoes are recommended to be Bates patent leather shoes, as these are the same shoes used by all of the U.S. military branches.

During the 1990s, the Fechheimer Bros. left the business of marching band uniforms and the Fruhauf Company took over. The Fruhauf uniforms were of slightly different styling, going back to button-down shoulder straps and removing the expansion panels behind the shoulders. From a distance there was no difference between the two styles, so the Fruhauf uniforms were purchased as needed to replace retired Fechheimer uniforms.

2005 changes

In 2005, a benefactor to the OSUMB donated a significant amount of money to buy new uniforms for the entire band. The benefactor wanted to uniform the entire band and not just have the money used for replacement uniforms. Dr. Woods decided that additional small changes would help to give the band a new, fresh look for the 2006 season. The minimal changes include updated sleeve stripes (new stripes consist of one red and one gray stripe) to minimize the wearing out that the old stripes suffered; uniform patch alignment (Fechheimer aligned the patch with the Buckeye leaf to have the Buckeye leaf right side up, while Fruhauf aligned the same patch with the word Buckeyes at the bottom, which is a difference very small and only noticeable when the band is seen up close); and a slit placed underneath the left breast pocket flap for the snare drums to attach their drums through (the common practice through band history was to cut a hole underneath the pocket flap to allow the attachment clip to pass through the uniform).

The OSUMB marches to Ohio Stadium after Skull Session. Seen in detail are the Drum Major uniform and the Director’s uniform. The four sleeve stripes and “scrambled eggs” visor show that Dr. Jon Woods is the director of the band.

Drum Major Uniforms

The Drum Major’s uniform has gone through countless changes since “Tubby” Essington’s uniform in the early days of the band. Every drum major of the band is custom-tailored into their uniform. Shortly after drum major tryouts in the spring, the Fruhauf Uniform company sends a representative to take exact measurements of the drum major and assistant drum major. At this point, the drum major is free to take artistic license on the style of their uniform. They can choose to model their uniform on a style consistent since the 1950s, with minor changes or they may choose to make more striking changes, which require approval of the drum major coach and directing staff. Most drum majors only choose small modifications, such as wearing of tassles on the tall fur hat or the set up of any cords worn adorning the hat. The modern drum major uniform, chosen by most drum majors without significant altering, has its roots to the 1950s. The current drum major uniform consists of:

  • Hat: The drum major wears a traditional white busby hat. On the front is a red tassel and decorative red cord. A long red turkey feather plume is attached via a plume socket on the drum major’s right side of the hat. This is the plume that meets the turf in Ohio Stadium every Football Saturday during the backbend. The drum major also wears a red beret, which is conveniently stored in the tall busby while the busby is worn.
  • Jacket: The drum major’s jacket is custom fit to him or her for maximum mobility. The jacket is red and has long tails on the back and is down to the wearer’s waist in front. On the front, concealing the buttons that the wearer buttons to get in and out of the jacket, is a plaque. This plaque attaches with 14 Great Seal of Ohio buttons. In the center is a gray circle with a red Buckeye leaf and the word OHIO repeated continuously around the edge. Traditional military epaulettes are worn on this uniform, which are white and have the decorative hanging braids seen on uniforms of 18th and early 19th-century generals. On the sleeves are white trefoils and below the trefoils are gray cuffs with an embroidered block O.
  • Trousers: The drum major’s pants are heavy duty polyester bibbers. These long trousers have the built-in suspenders and have a red-white-red stripe down each leg.
  • Shoes: The drum major wears black athletic shoes with no other colors visible, and wears spats that extend up the calf to give the resemblance of boots.

Assistant Drum Major Uniform

The assistant drum major’s uniform has its roots in the uniform of the old OSU military band (originally the marching band, being the only band, served as the military band. Later, there was a separate military band, and each band had a drum major. The marching band’s drum major wore a decorative uniform while the military band’s drum major wore the military uniform of the era). This uniform is also custom-fit to the assistant drum major. The assistant drum major is fitted for both the assistant and main drum major uniforms, as the assistant wears full uniform for post game performances, double Script Ohio, and on all away trips. The assistant drum major uniform contains:

  • Hat: The hat used by the assistant drum major is a solid black hat of the same style as all band hats prior to 1989. There is no plume worn, and the hat also contains the same silver chin strap and Eagle Ohio as the regular marching band hat.
  • Jacket: The jacket worn is of identical style as the regular band uniform, and therefore requires the wearing of dress shirt and tie. The only differences are the sleeve cuffs, which are gray and have a white trefoil and red block O similar to the drum major’s cuffs (instead of the red/silver stripe), and two extra buttons under the shoulder straps which are used to attach the drum major cord. This cord is worn across the chest from the shoulders and has two cords (one hangs slightly lower) which are created of red and gray braided strands and has a red and gray tassel hanging from one side.
  • Waist belt: The assistant drum major wears a simple waist belt instead of the cross belts.
  • Trousers: The assistant drum major wears the same pants as the rest of the band.

There are no spats worn with this uniform and the shoes are of the same Bates style.

Director Uniforms

The directing staff has worn uniforms of differing style to the marching band since its inception. The uniforms took on a style similar to the U.S. Navy’s double-breasted dress jacket in the 1940s and 50s, except manufactured from the same black material as the band uniforms. Directing staff had two thin golden stripes running around the circumference of the cuff area of the sleeves, similar to the U.S. Navy’s ranking system stripes. Directing staff also wore two lapel pins which were matching lyre-shaped insignia. These were gold along with all of the buttons on the uniforms. The directors wore the same hat as the marching band minus the plume.

The uniform eventually changed to have a sleeve ranking structure under Dr. Paul Droste. His uniform had three stripes denoting him as director, and the assistant director, Dr. Jon Woods, had two stripes. Dr. Droste also was the first to use a military style hat with the “scrambled eggs” visor (which are just acorns and leaves). Dr. Woods continued this tradition with his uniform hat. The directing staff today wears the following:

  • Hat: The directing staff wears black, Bayly (formerly Bancroft Cap Co.) airline pilot hats with the silver chin strap and silver Eagle Ohio.
  • Jacket: The jacket is a double-breasted U.S. Navy service coat from such manufacturers as DSCP or USNSC or one of their many contracted vendors. The buttons are the silver Ohio buttons that the rest of the band uniforms contain. The sleeve stripes are simple silver sleeve striping, used by airlines for their pilot uniforms. The ranking system of the directing staff is as follows:
  • 4 stripes and “scrambled eggs” hat visor: Director
  • 3 stripes: Assistant Director
  • 2 stripes: Percussion Instructor
  • 1 stripe: Graduate Assistant Conductor(s)
  • Trousers: The trousers are matching black U.S. Navy issue dress pants.

The shoes are the same as the students in the band.


The band after marching into the stadium.

The OSUMB uses only the brass and percussion instruments listed below.

  • E♭ Cornets (Yamaha Xeno 8620S)
  • B♭ Trumpets (Yamaha Xeno 8335S)
  • B♭ Flugelhorns (Yamaha 631S)
  • F Mellophones (King 1120 and 1121)
  • B♭ Tenor Trombones (King 2104)
  • Bass Trombones (Conn 110H)
  • Baritones (King 625)
  • Sousaphones (Conn 20K)
  • Snare drums (Yamaha custom-made 10"x14" with split lugs)
  • Cymbals (Sabian 18" Synergy)
  • Multi-Tenors (Quints) (Yamaha Corpsmaster series 6", 8", 10", 12", 13" sets)
  • Bass Drums (Yamaha custom-made)


The Ohio State University Marching Band enjoys national and international acclaim; it has been honored with The Sudler Trophy for outstanding college band, and in 1988 was featured in a multi-page article in USA Today.

The band has also performed in six Inaugural Parades. TBDBITL represented the State of Ohio during the inaugurations of Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush (2001 and 2005), and Barack Obama.[13]


Script Ohio: The History of The Ohio State University Marching Band

Script Ohio is a book of the history of The Ohio State University Marching Band. It is published by members of the Eta Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, the national honorary band fraternity. In 1979 Script Ohio: Centennial Edition, covering 100 years of the marching band's history was published. The Centennial Edition redefined the Script Ohio book concept, and two later editions have been published: Script Ohio: Time and Change (1989) and Script Ohio: Evolution (2004), including 125 years of history. These books are the ultimate source of trivia for The Ohio State University Marching Band and are the definitive history of the organization.[9]


  1. ^ Director Dr. Jon Woods claims, "Supposedly at a pep rally one year, Woody Hayes stood up after the band played a song and said, 'That's the best damn band in the land!' That's all it took. When Woody says something, it's law."
    Miller, Rusty (2006-11-15). "From O-H-I-O to TBDBITL with the OSMB". Associated Press. 
  2. ^ http://
  3. ^ "History of The Ohio State Marching Band". The Ohio State University Marching Band. 2006-10-25. Retrieved 2006-10-26. 
  4. ^ "Songs of The Ohio State University". Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  5. ^ "Script Ohio Controversy". OSU v Michigan. Ohio State University Archives. 2002-10-12. Retrieved 2006-10-26. 
  6. ^ Michigan Marching Band director Jamie Nix said, "Yes, that's true [that Michigan formed OHIO with its marching band], but certainly not in the complex form it takes on now with the OSU band."
    Miller, Rusty (2006-11-15). "From O-H-I-O to TBDBITL with the OSMB". Associated Press. 
  7. ^ OSU Marching Band website, Eugene Weigel biography
  8. ^ "The "i"-Dot Tradition". The Ohio State University Marching and Athletic Bands. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  9. ^ a b Script Ohio, Evolution. Kappa Kappa Psi, Eta Chapter. 2004
  10. ^ Ohio State Marching Band Traditions,
  11. ^ "At least Ohio State's tuba player went out with a bang". and Yahoo! Sports.,189035. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  12. ^ Castel, Brandon. "Retiring Band Director Jon Woods to dot the “i” at Halftime". Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  13. ^ "OSU Marching Band Heading for Washington DC" (Press release). The Ohio State University. 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 

External links

Preceded by
Sudler Trophy Recipient
Succeeded by
Florida A&M

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