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Ohio State Marching Band announces new drum major positions for 2016-2017 season

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Director of Marching and Athletic Bands Christopher Hoch (center) speaks with incoming head drum major John LaVange (left) and incoming assistant drum major Konner Barr (right) at the Harmon Family Football Park on April 24 after the two students were named to their respective positions. Credit: Michael Ittu | For The Lantern

Director of Marching and Athletic Bands Christopher Hoch (center) speaks with incoming head drum major John LaVange (left) and incoming assistant drum major Konner Barr (right) at the Harmon Family Football Park on April 24 after the two students were named to their respective positions. Credit: Michael Ittu | For The Lantern

TBDBITL has officially announced new drum major leaders for the 2016-2017 season.

The Ohio State University Marching Band held its annual drum major tryouts at the Harmon Family Football Park on Sunday to select the head and assistant drum majors for the upcoming season.

John LaVange, a second-year in finance and economics, was named head drum major with Konner Barr, a first-year in communication, selected for the assistant position. This past season, both LaVange and Barr were active in the band, with LaVange serving as assistant drum major of the marching band and Barr as a member of the OSUMB drum major training squad.

“Through my years of getting to understand the position, my year on drum row last year, and my year as assistant this past year, it’s really taught me the meaning, the honor and the overarching theme of the position of drum major,” LaVange said.

LaVange and Barr were announced as head and assistant drum major after taking part in a tryout session, which lasted a little over an hour. Other candidates for the positions included Sean Beckwith, a first-year in integrated social studies education; Kristoffer Hamilton, a first-year in mechanical engineering; Matthew Kolke, a second-year in information systems; and Daniel McCullough, a second-year in middle childhood education.

The candidates performed their routines while 20 judges, including the Most Inspirational Bandsperson of 2015, former band staff members and former drum majors, adjudicated each of their individual renditions in three categories: ramp entrance, twirling and aerial tosses. These three categories comprised of both the physical tryout process, as well as individual interviews conducted prior to the event, Hoch said during the announcement.

Judges for the event included Christopher Hoch, director of marching and athletic bands, Phillip Day, interim associate director of of marching and athletic bands, and Michael Smith, assistant director of marching and athletic bands. Former drum major David Pettit, who served as drum major for the 2013-14 season, and current drum major Nathan MacMaster were also in attendance but did not serve as judges. Former drum majors are required to wait two years before being eligible to serve in the position of judge, Hoch said during the tryout introduction.

“The drum major is often considered the man or woman out front, depending on the year, and that means that they are, in effect, the student leader of the band, and they work directly with the band directors to make sure that everything goes smoothly,” Hoch said. ”They’re the liaison between the students in the band and the directing staff, and I’m thrilled today because we have two guys who have tremendous leadership potential and great twirling ability.”

John LaVange, the newly announced 2016-2017 drum major of the Ohio State marching band, performs a back bend during his tryout for the position at the Harmon Family Football Park on April 24. Credit: Michael Ittu | For The Lantern

John LaVange, the newly announced 2016-2017 drum major of the Ohio State marching band, performs a back bend during his tryout for the position at the Harmon Family Football Park on April 24. Credit: Michael Ittu | For The Lantern

In addition to his role as assistant drum major this past season, LaVange has a detailed history of experience in the position of drum major. During his junior and senior years of high school, he was drum major of the Howland Marching Band, and during his first year at OSU, he served on the drum major training squad.

“Our program is set up where you spend years preparing, and John has worked hard for several years for this,” MacMaster said. “He’s got a lot of great tricks. He’s notable for his athleticism, and we all have our different styles, but his style is very athletic and dynamic. And I think he’ll be very entertaining to watch.”

LaVange said he’s up for the challenge of leading the band through the upcoming season.

“Being able to say that I can officially be the drum major of Ohio State, it’s an incredible honor, and I couldn’t be happier,” LaVange said. “It’s always important to make sure you’re meeting the expectations set for the drum majors, so I’m more than willing to work for that, and hopefully I’ll be able to do that this season.”

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