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Ohio State marching band comes together virtually for a Buckeye Battle Cry

Socially distanced performance prompts connections

Every Buckeye football game at Ohio Stadium starts with the band marching onto the field, perfectly in step, precisely positioned, playing “Buckeye Battle Cry.” It’s a song of optimism, rising up to a crescendo of percussion and horns. When the band starts playing it, people stand up throughout the stadium – often 100,000-plus people coming together in one moment – and cheer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped almost every communal moment from happening. But, like musicians around the world, the Ohio State University Marching Band is still trying to create them.

This week, the band posted “Socially Distanced Buckeye Battle Cry” to its various social media accounts. Sixty-one of the band’s members recorded themselves playing Buckeye Battle Cry from their homes. One band member, baritone horn player Luke Boyle, edited their audio together. Evan Drexler, the band’s communications manager, edited their videos into a patchwork and laid the audio over top.

Drexler said he almost dismissed the idea at first because he knew so many students – sousaphone players, bass and tenor drummers, cymbalists – wouldn’t have their instruments at home.

“There was a lot of percussion missing,” he said. “But we wound up having one student who had finger cymbals – she’s in it.”

And even though Buckeye Battle Cry doesn’t typically end with the drum major dotting the “i” in script Ohio – a legendary moment for many Buckeyes and Ohioans – Drexler said they opted to include a video of the i-dot just because.

“It was an opportunity for us to lift the spirits of the Ohio State community, and that means the students, the band’s alumni, Ohio State fans, and Ohio as a whole,” he said.

In the day since the video posted, more than 1,000 people have commented on it.

“Brought happy tears to my eyes,” one person commented.

“What a way to cheer you up!” another wrote.

“Raised my spirits as I sew face masks,” a third commented. “You have inspired me.”

That, Drexler said, was the goal.

“This band means so much to so many people and to do something that would bring a smile to people’s faces in a difficult time is something that we had to do,” he said. “I almost feel like it’s our job in some respects to make people happy.”

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