MAJORS - A West High Tradition
the years, West has had many great Drum Majors.
The last West Drum Major was MATT BERNDSEN ‘07 during
the 2006 football season. Matt had a goal of becoming a Drum
Major at The Ohio State University. He has been on the D-Row,
the group of band members who are in Drum Major Squad, since
his first year at OSU in 2007. There are six on the band D-Row
- the Drum Major, one Assistant Drum Major, and four D-Row members.
Matt made a big step in reaching his goal last August when he
was named the OSU Assistant Drum Major. The picture was taken
September 5, 2010 at the OSU - Navy game when he marched as
the Assistant Drum Major for the first time.
Matt has returned to march with the Alumni Band every Homecoming
since he graduated to show the West alumni how good he really
is and how much better he has gotten since becoming a member
of The Ohio State University Marching Band!
And there was another exciting time for Matt when the OSU Band
west to the Rose Bowl 2010 - the first time in thirteen years!
Our congratulations to Matt on his achievements and our best
wishes to him as he pursues his goal. Matt’s proud parents are
STACY NEFF BERNDSEN ‘78 and DOUG BERNDSEN ‘77 (who was also
a West Drum Major), his sister - NATALIE BERNDSEN NAUS ‘03,
and grandmother LOIS HUNTER NEFF ‘55.
Matt is pictured in his Assistant Drum Major uniform.
to Matt being named an OSU Assistant Drum Major, RICH PARKS
‘82 was the OSU Drum Major in 1987 and 1988.
The OSU web page on the former Drum Majors has a bio on Rich
that says, “Rich Parks will be remembered for his precise movements,
his quick, positive manner of twirling, signaling, and marching.
He is a product of Columbus West Senior High School . . . .”
Rich was quoted as saying, “I was probably the shortest bandsperson
on the field, but when I blew the whistle for attention, I was
10 feet tall.” “The biggest thrill is to strut out of the tunnel,
through the band to do the back bend, and then lead the band
down the field to the strains of Buckeye Battle Cry. You give
it your all, and your heart swells with pride. It is a moment
you will carry all your life.”
Rich was voted the Most Inspirational Bandperson in 1988 by
the other band members. His picture is from the OSU Drum Major
We learned through Stacy Berndsen that Rich had been out of
Ohio for several years but he has moved back to the Columbus
area and Matt has been in contact with him.
We can’t include an article
about West Drum Majors without mentioning our first
prior to Rich, in 1942 (Gerald) JERRY JOHNSTON ‘40 held
the distinction of being named the OSU Drum Major.
Jerry’s bio on the OSU web page says. “In 1942, Jerry Johnston
broke away from the regular routine pattern for the OSU drum
major and became one of the smoothest looking drum majors to
execute the high strut. The evolution of the high strut began
in 1936 when the pregame music, ‘Buckeye Battle Cry,” increased
from 132 to 166 beats a minute. Wesley Leas (‘36 - OSU) introduced
the high step, which later evolved into the high strut when
the tempo increased to 180 beats in 1939. Dick Jones that year
extended the leg movement outward with high knee and pointed
toe. This enabled him to smooth his strut and not look bouncy.
Ed Maundrell (‘41 - OSU) simply added the arched back.
Johnston polished these movements that he had learned from Jones
and Maundrell. He added the accented hip and shoulder movements
with head extended back and down as far as possible.” “Maundrell
and Johnston had the physical agility to march and bend backwards
at a 45-degree angle and move with ease at a tempo of 180 beats
a minute, keeping their head level, while elevating their feet
36 inches off the ground. Executing in tempo a coordinated four
beat thrust with one arm, they would appear to float effortlessly
with the music. This procedure required self-discipline, tremendous
stamina, and untold hours of practice.”
Jerry’s picture is from the OSU Drum Major web page.
Dr. Jack Miles ‘31. The following article is reprinted from the
July 2003 Alumni Occident.
We got a ’first-hand’ account of the beginning of the West Marching
Band from Dr. Jack Miles ‘31, the first West Drum Major. Dr. Miles said
he became the drum major when Band Director Mr. Hutchinson told him
he would be the drum major. He had previously played the clarinet and
oboe in the band.
He said the West principal, Mr. Otto Magly, and the football coach and
athletic director, Harold Wise, thought there needed to be more enthusiasm
and school spirit at the football games. They felt a good way to do
that was to have a marching band at the games to play and bring some
excitement to the events. Dr. Miles didn’t believe Mr. Hutchison had
much, if any, knowledge of what a marching band should be, but they
developed it as they went along.
To learn more about what a drum major should do, Dr. Miles contacted
William (Ben) Knepper, the OSU drum major from 1928-1930. Dr. Miles
knew Ben through Boy Scouts. Having never even held a baton before his
appointment as drum major, he had to learn quickly. And his position
earned him a place in West High History of “Firsts” - the First Drum Major!
The Athletic Association provided him with a drum major’s shako, a pair
of spats, and a baton - the old-fashioned type with the large ball on
Per Dr. Miles, the second game he marched in one of his spats came loose
and fell off. He just stopped, removed the other one, threw them to
the sidelines, and continued his march down the field. - - - - - - -
We're sorry we don't have a picture of Dr. Miles in his Drum Major uniform
to include here.