The Ohio State University Marching Band has changed several times over the years, from size to sound. It is nearly unrecognizable from its roots, a 12 piece all male ROTC band.
With women allowed admittance in 1973, as well as various increases in size and changes in instrumentation, the band is as diverse as the entire university. Students of all ranks join the band and their majors range from Anthropology to Zoology.
Surprisingly, Music Majors make up less than 20 percent of the band, and the most common major is engineering.
Every new candidate and returning veteran go through a rigorous tryout procedure including marching, playing, and both together. Men and women are held to the same demanding physical standards, whether playing trumpet or sousaphone. These high standards are kept up throughout the season with weekly music checks, uniform inspections, and challenges.
Since 1976, the band’s membership has held steady at 225 marching members. The band’s instrumentation is unique among college bands, patterned after the traditional British military brass band. The 192-piece block band consists of the following instrumentation:
- 10 E-flat Cornets
- 44 B-flat Trumpets
- 18 Flugelhorns
- 24 Mellophones
- 24 Slide Trombones
- 24 Baritone Horns
- 24 Sousaphones
- 12 Snare Drums
- 4 Bass Drums
- 4 Pairs of Cymbals
- 4 Quadra-Toms
In addition, each of the 16 rows has two alternates with the exception of one additional alternate in one of the percussion rows (one alternate each on quints/tenors, cymbals, and bass drum) to bring the total to 33 alternates.
The alternates, though temporarily not marching, have important roles in the band. Because the band has no auxiliary units (flag corps, etc.), alternates (and student staffers) are used to handle props or other equipment to add an extra element to a show. Secondly, alternates have the ability to challenge regulars for a marching position each week.
The challenge process consists of a shortened version of tryouts, where the squad leaders evaluate the challenger and challengee on music and marching. This process ensures that the 192 people are those that will put forth the most effort for that week’s show and entertain the 105,000 fans in the stadium.
A-Row is the first row in the Ohio State University Marching Band block. The row leads the band in parade marching and pregame. A-Row is comprised of eight Solo Bb Trumpets and six Eb Cornets (commonly referred to as “effers”), which provide the highest melodic voice in the band. The members of A-Row pride themselves as being the best marchers and musicians in the band.
A-Row holds a strong belief in the keeping of traditions. One of the row’s greatest traditions is the leading out of the band during the famed Ramp Entrance.. Other row traditions include meeting at the northwest 25-yard-line hashmark after rehearsals, and the annual end-of-season cabin trip.
The official mascot of A-Row is a rock. The rock is meant to symbolize the strength and stability of A-Row as the foundation of the band. When the football team travels to a national championship game or to the Rose Bowl, the rock is split amongst the members of the row and a new rock is found in its place.
During the block expansion of 1960, X-Row was added to the Ohio State Marching Band. Since then, X-Row has been the final row to come down the ramp during every Ohio State football game. Along with sister row A-Row, X-Row is comprised of Solo Bb trumpets and Eb cornets (efers), which provide the highest instrumental voices in the band. X-Row has taken pride in superior marching ability and musicality since the dawn of time.
Some of the traditions of X-Row include giving the nod as a signal for KL-Row to blow the whistle for ramp, leading the band into skull sessions, and leading the band behind the drum major for Script Ohio.
X-Row is the only row in the band that does not have an official mascot. The row does not feel that it needs a fluffy animal or inanimate object to cheer their Buckeyes to victory.
B-Row: 1st & 2nd Trumpets
B-Row is an all trumpet row which leads out the East side of the band during ramp. The row is made up of 7 first trumpets, and 7 second trumpets.
B-Row has two main traditions. Back when the band used to practice on the East stadium parking lot, there used to be two poles that marked the goal posts. After every rehearsal the row would have a meeting at the pole. This tradition has continued to this day. Nowadays, every meeting is held by a pole. The second tradition is that every game day B-Row leaders hand out buckeyes to each row member marching a ramp. The buckeyes have each row number inscribed on them. Each member collects their buckeyes and at the end of the season the buckeyes are a count of how many ramps you marched that year.
When the band’s field rehearsal moved from the east parking lot, the two poles that marked the goal posts were removed. To remember these treasured landmarks, B-Row’s mascot is a pole striped with scarlet and gray.
T-Row: 1st & 2nd Trumpets
T-Row is a row of Trumpets in The Best Damn Band in the Land. We are the second to the last row in the Ramp Block, and are the last row to come down the ramp to the west side. Before the expansion project set forth by Dr. Paul Droste in the early 1970s, T-Row used to be the last row in the Ramp Block. T-12, the Assistant Squad Leader, along with X-1 is in charge of giving ‘The Nod’ during Ramp. T-12 will nod their head up and down to signal the KL-Row Squad Leaders it is time to blow the whistles. T-1 is the very last person to come down the ramp on the West side and T-12 is the very last person to hit their spot in the Ramp Block. T-Row prides itself on being one of the most social rows in the band, on having many of its members serving as brothers and sisters of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma.
Before every Gameday, T-Row meets at The Oval to take the campus in and focus before the days activites begin. On Game Day mornings T-Row walk the “Long Walk” from the University’s seal to President Thompson’s statue singing the full three verses of Carmen Ohio. T-Row also has two annual social gatherings. The “BT Spaghetti Dinner” is a time to bond with the sister row (B-Row) early in the season. “TX ThanXgiving” is a time to bond with the brother row (X-Row) while having a full Thanksgiving dinner.
T-Row has two official mascots.
The traditional mascot for T-Row is “The Tail.” Being the original ‘tail’ of the band, the row adopted a taxidermied bulls tail as our own. T-Row members wave it around on Gameday against opposing players and especially bad referees.
The second T-Row mascot is the Stars and Stripes. The American Flag accompanies JI-Row’s Ohio Flag in the stands to show the Pride in our country and to honor the military tradition of the OSUMB.
The first and only all-Flugelhorn row in the band, C-Row gained this distinction in1970 under then director Paul Droste. Previously, the row had been made up of all Eb Alto Horns and was the precursor to today’s E-Row. Despite several more expansions and instrumentation changes in following years, the makeup of C-Row has not changed in over 40 years. With the band’s current instrumentation of 192 marching regulars, C-Row follows A-Row in pregame and occupies the 20 during the famous Ramp Entrance.
Along with a general love of all things spelled with a C, some of C-Row’s traditions include eating gameday a practice lunch in C Deck of Ohio Stadium, meeting on the Northeast 20 hash after practices, our annual C/S Spaghetti Dinner, and reporting to the band center earlier than full band report to ensure everyone is present on gamedays. Additionally, being the only trumpet row with one part, every regular member is eligible to be challenged by both alternates, ensuring that our best are on the field on Saturdays.
Since its founding, C-Row’s mascot has been the Crow (C + Row = Crow). According to lore, because of this correlation, C-Row was the first row in the band to have a mascot, we are told that C-Row’s mascot has been the Crow since before becoming the Flugelhorn row. Since 1980, a stuffed representation of a crow has been present with the row on gamedays. The current Crow is affectionately named Mr. Box due to the inscription on the pole he rests on from former Squad Leader Mike Rhonemus.
S-Row originally existed as an alto horn row until it was changed to current instrumentation under the directorship of Jack O. Evans. S-Row is also the only row in band that includes both B flat trumpets and flugelhorns.
Traditions of S-row include an annual C- and S-row spaghetti dinner and scavenger hunt, and an annual Christmas party every year. At every home game S-Row meets at the top of the ramp before the pregame ramp to prepare.
S-Row’s mascot has been a squirrel for some 24 years.
H Row is composed of 14 baritones and was added to the band in 1934 when the instrumentation of the Ohio State University Marching Band was modified to be all brass. Although women were permitted to try out for the marching band in 1973, H Row is unique in the fact that it remained the last all-male row for approximately 5 years thereafter. Unique to H Row is also the fact that in concert settings, H and M Row are the only rows in the band that sit out of order alphabetically; H Row sits in the very back, and M Row sits in front of them.
H Row traditions include the following:
- After B Row and the drum major perform their game day ritual, H Row meets in the middle of the ramp to perform the row cheer and game day ritual
- H and M Row host an annual cabin trip in Hocking Hills
- H and M Row host an annual Baritone Thanksgiving after the Michigan game
- After the band is announced, the members of H and M Row meet in the rotunda and sing Carmen Ohio
- On the last day of summer sessions, all of the baritone candidates and veterans go to Graeter’s
H Row has two mascots: the rhinos and H-Caliber. The rhino was selected as the row mascot for its masculinity in reference to the fact that H Row was the last all-male row in the band. H-Caliber is a Civil War Cavalry Saber that was purchased by members of the row to replace the rhinos as the primary mascot.
Sousaphones have served as the bass section of the OSUMB since the beginning of the 20th Century. Though it is unclear as to when official “row” delineations began, K-Row was the first row of sousaphones. Currently, K-Row and L-Row operate jointly as KL-Row, the sousaphone section of the OSUMB. L-Row was formerly percussion until 1972 when the band’s most recent expansion project instituted L-Row as the second row of sousaphones. Each row is comprised of 14 BBb Conn 20K sousaphones for a total of 28 basses each playing the same part.
The mascot of KL-Row is the Chiquita Banana, began by members of K-Row in the late 1960s. Often, fans can see a 4th-Year or 5th-Year of KL-Row brandishing our beloved plush Chiquita banana in the Endzone after a scoring drive for the Buckeyes. This plush is emblazoned with the immortal truth of “BEAT BLUE” and is to be handled with the upmost care.
Traditions include the playing of the solos for I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State and the world-famous Round on the Ends and High in the Middle. Sousaphone players also are those responsible for signaling to the rest of the band for the beginning of the chorus of Buckeye Battle Cry in the traditional Ramp Entrance.
Perhaps the most important tradition for members of KL-Row is the dotting of the ‘i’ in Script Ohio. Only members who have served in KL-Row for at least four years are granted the honor of dotting the ‘i.’ Honorary “i-dots” are reserved exclusively for those who have given selflessly toward the betterment of the band, university, or nation.
In the 75 years of Script Ohio, the only honorary i-dotters have included: Bob Hope, Woody Hayes, Buster Douglas, Dr. E. Gordon Gee, Novice and Marjorie Fawcett, Robert Ries, Jack Nicklaus, Jack and Carol Evans, Paul and Anne Droste, John and Annie Glenn, Les Wexner, and most recently, retired OSUMB Director Dr. Jon R. Woods.