TBDBITL Reunion - by Pat Herak


Pat Herak was at the the St John Arena for the TBDBITL Renunion on Saturday 2 September.

TBDBITL Alumni Reunion
TBDBITL Alumni Band
Director, Ray Castle
Ohio State University Marching Band
Director, Dr. Jon Woods
Photographs courtesy of Ed and Karen Crockett

Saturday, September 2nd the Ohio State University Marching Band (OSUMB) and TBDBITL Alumni Band had two joint performances.  The first was a pre-game concert at St John Arena, which was then followed up by performances during pregame and halftime of the Ohio State University versus Northern Illinois University football game.  However, the preparation for both bands performances started earlier in the week.

The Preparation

Monday the 28th saw the TBDBITL band have their first rehearsal for Saturday's event.  Over 100 members were in attendance were present to register, pick up their music and marching charts.

Meanwhile, the Ohio State University Marching Band (OSUMB) had tryouts on Tuesday (the 29th) and Wednesday (the 30th) for the 2006-7 band.  Tryouts consist of a music audition (often for one of the university music staff) and 4 two-hour marching and playing audition sessions.  OSUMB would then have Thursday and Friday to memorize the music and marching steps for a new show to be performed Saturday.

The TBDBITL Alumni Band met for two more hours on Friday night for music practice.  Saturday morning the band would rehearse music for approximately 45 minutes before a 90-minute marching rehearsal and then it was performance time.

Skull Session at St. John Arena
Skull session at St John Arena

The Skull Session originally started back in 1932.  The original purpose was to have a musical dress rehearsal for the game performance run through the band members' head (skull) one more time before that final performance. 

Held in the bands small rehearsal hall, the skull session became so popular that eventually tickets had to be issued to parents to limit numbers.   In 1957, Jack Evans (the director of OSUMB) had the skull session moved to the recently built St. John Arena.  Dr. Evan's still treated it as a rehearsal and would occasionally stop the band to fix musical problems.

Under Dr. Paul Droste the skull session turned into a giant concert/ pep rally, a tradition that continues today.  On this Saturday the 13,250 seat arena was filled to capacity to hear the OSUMB, TBDBITL Alumni Band and guest Northern Illinois University Marching Band.

The Football team usually makes an appearance during the skull session to show their support for the OSUMB and sir up the crowd.  This week the team was early and was able to see the OSUMB march into the arena.

Players and coaches alike were amazed by the crowd response from the band entrance to the percussion section leading their ramp cadence. The crowd roared and it was performance time.

This week's performance was dedicated to Richard Heine (who was in attendance).  He was one of the first composers/ arrangers to write for the OSUMB when it switched to all brass instrumentation in the 1934, thus giving the OSUMB it's signature sound.

The OSUMB started with Across the Field, soft and slow.  In this soft and slow version the band plays the fight song almost as a soft hymn the first time, before exploded into the 180 beats per minute for the second time.  The audience erupts at the tempo change and the atmosphere is electric.

Doug Droste and Mark Freiman help pump up the crowd
TBDBITL Alumni Band members Doug Droste and Mark Freiman help pump up the crowd.

School Songs

The Ohio State University has a variety of school songs, and these songs (Le Regiment, Buckeye Battle Cry, Across the Field, Hang on Sloopy and Carmen Ohio) are as much a staple for any OSUMB or TBDBITL concert as Dambusters, Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory, British Grenadiers, and Jerusalem are for any proms concert…and the whip the crowd into no less of a frenzy.

In addition to the school songs (most of which were arranged by Heine) the OSUMB also played the Northern Illinois University (NIU) fight song to salute their guests and a Buckeye Fanfare written by Heine.

The TBDBIL Alumni band added Heine's very clever arrangement of The Band Played On (which includes several quotes from other works) and Heine's original composition OSUMBlues.

The visiting NIU Marching Band played a medley of pop tunes to the appreciative audience and by the time the 45-minute concert was over, the crowd was ready for the match.


For pregame both the OSUMB and TBDBITL Alumni Band, play the Buckeye Battle Cry as the separately enter onto the pitch.  One might think that the crowd (in excess of 105,000) would be board by hearing the same piece twice in a row, but that only fired them up even more.

OSUMB bass tronbone player
An OSUMB bass trombone player performs for the crowd

The massed bands then perform that State Rock Song of Ohio (Hang on Sloopy) for the crowd which chants O-H-I-O in tempo, before the TBDBITL Alumni band leaves the field.  The OSUMB concludes pregame by playing Fanfare for a New Era (Swearingen) and Across the field as the team enters, followed by the National Anthem.


After both bands performed their musical tribute to Richard Heine, starting with the OSUMB, it was time for the "Quad-Script."  Script Ohio is one of (if not the greatest tradition) in the States for university marching bands. 

Quad-Script in front of 150000 supporters
The Quad-Script in front of over 105,000 supporters.

The band marches like ink flowing out of a pen to spell Ohio, and finishes when one of the Sousaphone players "dots  the i."  When the TBDBITL Alumni band returns there are enough band members to spell four Ohios on the pitch, one face each set of bleachers.

The mass bands the performed the Sound of the Campus Chimes followed by Carmen Ohio, to the large crowd that sang along.


One of the newer postgame traditions is for the team to come over to the band after a match (fortunately this week ended in a 35-12 victory) and sing the Ohio State Alma Mater, Carmen with the band accompanying.

The NIU Marching band then performed their show on the pitch to a respectable crowd of about 40,000 remaining supporters and the day of pageantry that is college football came to an end.

The TBDBITL Alumni reunion is one of the great weekends for banding in Ohio (if not the States).  It brings together the old and young and is an awesome spectacle. It is usually one of the first weekends of September and if you do have the opportunity to get away on holiday, you surely do not want to miss it.


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