The drum major has been a familiar figure on the Ohio State campus since 1878. In 1920, Drum Major George ‘Tubby’ Essington, first introduced showmanship, color, and personality to this leadership position at OSU. Prior to his time, the drum major’s position was based on a strict military discipline. Perhaps the thrill and excitement of OSU’s winning football teams sparked by All-American Chic Harley in 1919 may have helped to break the somber look and regimentary characteristic of military drum majors. Essington’s showmanship, coupled with the smart execution of movement, established a tradition that has continued to the present day.
In 2002 the OSU Drum Major position secured a full in-state tuition scholarship. This scholarship was provided by the TBDBITL Alumni Club Scholarship Endowment, and is the largest scholarship any OSU Marching Band member can receive. It is also one of the largest scholarships for a drum major in the country.
Today the Drum Major is an iconic figure and leader of the OSU Marching Band. Drum Major tryouts are held in the spring of every year. To be eligible to tryout, students need to have served in the marching band for at least one year. The
You can learn more about becoming an Ohio State style Drum Major here.
Over the past 100 years many traditions have been established that the Ohio State Drum Major is known for. These traditions include; the Pre-Game Backbend, leading Script Ohio, showmanship and mace-work using the Gray Baton, and the Pre-Game goal post toss.
A fun, but little known (and rarely seen) drum major tradition includes the “3-knocks”. Five minutes before the Pre-Game Ramp Entrance the drum major warms-up for the physically demanding pre-game entrance, while B-Row & C-Row cheer the drum major on. The warm-up includes a backbend and “three knocks” on a special plaque in the stadium, symbolizing the band is here and it’s time for the game to begin.
The Drum Major Training Squad, known to the band as D-row, was formed in 1979 to assist in the proper training of potential Drum Majors, particularly due to the unique style and demands of the Drum Major position. Any student may audition for a position on D-Row during the same week the OSUMB Band is selected. Those selected for D-Row work as understudies to the Drum Major during the marching season to learn the intricacies of the position and the skills necessary to be an effective drum major. You will never see D-Row performing on Saturdays, and the number of candidates selected each year varies on the talent and abilities of the students auditioning. The typical number of D-Row members is usually between one to seven students.
Eligibility: An individual may be selected to the Drum Major Training Squad for a maximum of two years. Once he or she has served one year of the squad a person is then eligible to participate in drum major tryouts in the spring at any point during his or her tenure as a student at Ohio State. There is no limit to the number of times a person may tryout for the position of Drum Major. However, Drum Majors are bound by the same five-year membership limit, as are all other band members, with membership in the Drum Major Squad included in this limit.
If you think you’d be interested in becoming an Ohio State Drum Major, or would like to learn more information about becoming a part of D-Row contact the Drum Major here.