The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Features May 4, 2007

Marching Ahead
More than Ants Marching: Practicing for its big performance at the Big Parade on Saturday, the Oberlin College Marching Band plays in step.

Part ExCo, part student organization and part club sport, the Oberlin College Marching Band has stepped into the spring season in style.

The band spent last semester teaching its new members marching and music fundamentals, performing its field show at various varsity games and acting as a “pep band” around campus.

In the spring, the Band’s main focus is the Big Parade on May 5, where it will perform its show Cartoon Music featuring charts from Spider-man, Inspector Gadget and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The group’s history, as described on its website, is as follows: “During the fall of 1997, Alison Gent had a dream. A dream filled with a band, but not just any band, a marching band filled with the suavest individuals Oberlin had to offer.”

“She searched for others with a similar vision and found she was not alone. She and these other, dare we call them dreamers, initiated the most ambitious of undertakings — a group winter term project. And thus, the Oberlin College Marching Band (OCMB) was formed.”

Band members over the years have taken pride in the independence and student-oriented nature of the band. Although the group does have a faculty advisor, it is students who make all crucial decisions.

“All the music is student-arranged or written, as is the field show drill, and all of our office positions are critical to keeping the group going,” band co-chair sophomore Rachel Stewart said.

Her co-chair, sophomore Nick Holsing, said more about the student-led nature of the group.

 “Unlike most marching bands, the students who participate here can actually have a say in what policies they want. For example, they can pick the music themselves,” he said.

The current band boasts 18 members, the largest group in three years, and features an unusual level of diversity.

“Usually we have a lot of College bio majors, science-type people and a few Connies,” said Holsing. “Normally people sign up who did marching band in high school and want to continue it in college. This year, a bunch of people showed up at the ExCo Fair from all sorts of backgrounds. For some, this is their first time marching.”

Senior musicology major Thomas Carroll, who was elected as drum major for this semester, believes that the band receives mixed reviews on campus.

“The Con won’t touch us, but people say we sound pretty good. The students are excited that there is a marching [band], but most are too busy or not interested enough to get involved, and that’s sad,” he said.

After other members commented on the fun, musicality and activeness that led them to the group, Stewart emphasized her reasons for joining.

“It’s a good opportunity to learn a lot about leadership. Also, I joined as a freshman, and I found that it was a good way to meet people. It gave me a group of people to sit with at meals and hang out with that I might not have had otherwise,” she said.

When you arrive at the Big Parade this weekend, keep an ear out for the OCMB. With their second-hand uniforms and student-arranged tunes, these Obies are sure to step their way into your heart.


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