Oregon State marching band brings ‘Spirit and Sound’ to El Paso

Oregon State marching band brings ‘Spirit and Sound’ to El Paso

Last year, the Oregon State marching band endured a grueling 24-hour bus ride to bring “The Spirit and Sound of OSU” to the Las Vegas Bowl. This week, delivering that spirit took only a short drive to Eugene Airport. 

The OSU marching band boarded its chartered flight Wednesday morning to support the Oregon State football team in El Paso, Texas, at the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl.

With the uncertainty brought upon Oregon State athletics this year with the PAC-12 Conference realignment, the OSU marching band wants to provide consistency and familiarity.

Second-year trumpet player Cole Keady mentioned the athletics changes could leave fans feeling “uneasy” about the future.

“Having the Spirit and Sound at the games not only provides the musical environment but also gives stability and familiarity with the fight song and classic rally pieces that fans recognize,” Keady said. “Music brings people together, so having a reliable institution like the OSUMB there, playing as they have for 133 years, gives immense security.” 

With travel comes new experiences, and this visit to Texas will be the first for many band members, including Keady.

“I’ve never been to Texas before, much less El Paso, so I’m pretty psyched to go,” Keady said. “I found out that a local El Paso staple is a short walk away from the hotel, so once we arrive later today, I’m gonna get that for dinner.”

Third-year trumpet section leader Jaeden Bell also expressed anticipation about traveling. 

“I am extremely excited about exploring El Paso,” Bell said. “Any time I get to go on a trip with the band, I love exploring around the area, getting to see new food and restaurants, and hanging out with friends while doing it. As a tour guide for Oregon State University, the travel is something I always try to emphasize about the band as they make some of the greatest experiences possible.”

A new method of travel also has its downfalls. Heavy and oversized instruments will be a pain to travel with; medium-sized instruments, including trumpets and baritones, will be checked with the luggage, and small instruments can be stored in carry-ons. 

Sousaphones, the biggest marching instrument in the band, will struggle the most with travel; according to Keady, “I imagine Sousaphones had a much different experience.” 

The location of the bowl game means a new place to practice. They will be practicing at a high school in El Paso for a few hours at a time, refreshing themselves of their music from the year.

No new music will be played, but the practices will still come with their challenges. Practicing at a local high school field compared to Reser Stadium and Merritt Truax Indoor Center, as the hash marks differ significantly from a college field. 

The challenge comes from the placement of the hash marks, as high school hashes are 53 feet and 4 inches from the sideline compared to the even 60 feet of college hashes. The team typically just lays down the tape to act as the hash marks, but it still can be confusing to practice for those who are not used to a high school field.  

“Our rehearsals will run a bit differently, just with how our collegiate hashes and any high school football hashes are measured differently with the space, so that’ll be interesting to work with both the new space with the roster of folks we were fortunate to bring,” fifth-year tenor saxophone player Mayri Ross said.

The band will keep everyone posted about their journey on their Instagram and TikTok page and will of course be heard from the stands on Dec. 29, at noon 11 a.m. PST). The game will be televised on CBS for those who cannot attend the game in El Paso. 

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