back to news Sept. 19, 2013

TBDBITL Embraces New Technology to Revolutionize Halftime Shows

The Ohio State University Marching Band is going high tech and going green this season. Thanks to new technology and a cache of iPads, band members can now learn complicated formations, visualize drills, and go paperless, allowing them to learn each week’s halftime shows more efficiently and effectively, as well as saving money and paper.

The innovative project was the brainchild of two Ohio State student band members – Ryan Barta, a senior majoring in business operations management, and Charlie King, a senior majoring in computer information science and history. They came up with a plan to use existing technology and iPads, allowing band directors to upload and share drills digitally, as well as a plan to create a digital music database, which replaces the previous practice of printing out pages and pages of paper guides for every band member to use to learn each week’s formations. The two presented their ideas to marching band and university leaders, who quickly saw the benefits of the high-tech applications.

“This program is revolutionizing how the band operates and performs,” said Jon Waters, Ohio State’s Marching Band director, who added the technology is an excellent tool for learning and evaluation, allowing students to instantly review video and adopt musical or visual show changes. “Best of all, the project was student-led,” he said.

Before long, wireless upgrades were made at the Ohio State band center by Digital First, while the College of Arts and Sciences Technology Services staff provided technical support. And upon hearing about the thousands of dollars that would be saved in paper and printing costs, the Office of Energy and the Environment provided a $25,000 grant – matched by the marching band – to purchase the first set of iPads for use by the band’s squad leaders.

Waters says this first year is a pilot of the project; the hope is that funding can be secured to purchase more iPads for the rest of the band members to borrow during the season next year.

“The iPads are so easy to use, and they can do more than we possibly imagined,” said King, explaining that the field formations and drills can now be mapped out for each band member on the iPad, with animation showing musicians exactly where they need to be – step by step. “That lets us learn routines faster, which should in turn translate into bigger, better, and more amazing halftime shows. It will help unlock every piece of potential that we can as a band.”