The Associated Press features stories from three college bands—Oklahoma, Michigan, and Ohio State—each with honored traditions that have experienced some adjustments during the pandemic.
Generally speaking, marching bands aren’t allowed on the field during football games, even though they have been an integral part of college football for more than a century. At Oklahoma, the band pre-records its show on Thursday nights before the game, and it is played on the jumbotron at halftime.
It looks a little different, since everybody who can wear a mask is wearing one, and cloth covers are placed over the bells of trumpets and trombones in order to reduce the possibility of spittle traveling through the air during the performance. But more than 300 student-musicians filled the field and rendered the famous “Sweet Victory” for the cameras.
Except there’s no crowd during the recording.
“Much of what makes our band experience special has been altered, and you can really feel it,” the AP quoted Oklahoma drum major Paxton Leaf as saying.
At Ohio State, where the “Script Ohio” number, which writes “Ohio” in cursive across the field to cap the show, is a dream of many tuba players in the state’s high schools. One college senior is selected to “dot the i” for each home game, and after the band forms the letters, that tuba player runs out and punctuates the show.
So that won’t be happening this year either.
At Michigan, band director John Pasquale is putting together a show virtually, but he told the AP he’s not quite sure how.
“Each band member individually records a piece and we edit it into a video,” he was quoted as saying. “We’re not exactly sure what that is going to look like yet. We’re trying to find creative ways to feature our students other than in the stale, ‘Brady Bunch’ style on video.”