In a typical season, The Ohio State University Marching Band is comprised of 228 student musicians. The band’s instrumentation is unique among college bands, patterned after the traditional British military brass band. The traditional pregame block consists of 192 members. In addition, there are 36 alternate musicians, including an additional bass drum, pair of cymbals and set of tenor drums that join that week’s regular members for the halftime performance. The band also includes a drum major training squad and a student staff, all of whom are full members of the band. There are no front groups or auxiliary units connected with the band.
The 228-piece band consists of the following instrumentation:
12 E-flat Cornets
51 B-flat Trumpets
7 Bass Trombones
28 Baritone Horns
14 Snare Drums
6 Tenor Drums
6 Bass Drums
6 Pairs of Cymbals
Also during a typical year, each of the 16 rows has 12 regular members and two alternates, with the exception of J-Row, which has two alternates for each instrument (two alternates each on tenors, cymbals, and bass drum) to bring the total to 36 alternates.
The alternates, though temporarily not marching, have important roles in the band. Because the band has no auxiliary units (flag corps, etc.), alternates (and student staff) often handle props or other equipment to add an extra element to a show. Secondly, alternates have the ability, and the obligation, to challenge regulars for a marching position each week. The challenge process consists of a shortened version of tryouts, where the squad leaders evaluate the challenger and challengee on music and marching. This process ensures that the 192 people are those that will put forth the most effort for that week’s show.
During the 2020 season, several small changes have been made to the numbers in the band. The 2020 edition of the band has 30 members on sousaphone and 16 members on snare drums. This year's group will also have a combined 78 members on E-Flat cornet, B-Flat trumpet and flugelhorn instead of the typical 84 in that group.