What’s it like to be part of FSU’s Marching Chiefs? An interview with Michaela Osborne, Tuba player & History major

Sat, 08/07/21
Michaela Osborne

How did you get interested in music?

I started with piano and then guitar and when I was 11, I switched to tuba. I always loved music. In my high school, I joined the marching band. I became a section leader in my senior year. I went to a large high school with a big marching band, so the transition to playing with the FSU Marching Chiefs was not that hard.

What did it take to become a MC?

I came to FSU to be part of the MC. In my junior year at high school, I signed up for the MC’s newsletter to know about their events. I wanted to be part of a university that had a strong band tradition. As a freshman, I attended two weeks of band camp before the semester started. Everybody who wants to join has to. About 600 to 650 students audition to join the MC every year; usually about 400 are selected. During my time with the MC, we have been 24 tubas every year. I came in as a Music major, but you don’t have to be. I switched to History pretty quickly.

What’s it like to be part of the MC?

It sort of takes over a lot of your life. There is the two-hour practice every day. We perform at the Powwow, Campus Crawl, Homecoming, and other FSU events. Additionally, the MC record albums, and we have to be available for the recording sessions. The main occasions, though, are when we perform at the football games. Those are 11 to 12 hours days! We practice for a couple of hours before the game starts, then start performing at the baseball field, walk over to the stadium and perform before kickoff, play at half time, play at the end, really, play throughout, and then walk back to the baseball field. At the end of the day, you know what you have done.

I also play during basketball season in the ‘Seminole Sounds.’ That’s the band that plays for the basketball games. Those get selected from the MC.

You have to try out anew every year to continue being in the MC. Since I came from out-of-state, I knew no one at FSU when I arrived. My band section became my family. We hang out together when we are not doing music or studying. Those are my friends.

What’s the most challenging thing of being a MC?

It’s actually the marching. FSU’s MC is one of the few bands that maintains the tradition of high step marching. We have to raise the knee to waist level at every step. That doesn’t just take a lot of training and stamina; you also have to prepare for the impact of your foot hitting the ground. There’s also a lot of math involved! We practice walking in precise steps. Generally, we have to cover five yards in eight steps; each step needs to be 22 inches. Through practice we learn to adjust to each other’s footfalls, to resize our steps if we march in a pattern – or to help all sections stay together. We don’t need to remember all the music; we can read it on our phones as we play.

What was the furthest you have travelled with the MC?

I went to France in 2019! The MC played in the D-Day parade on June 6th. We walked across the Normandy landing beach, representing the US. Afterward, we got to spend a few days in Paris. We sightsaw and we played – and marched - in the many parks in the city. It felt great, and a lot of people stopped and looked. We had another trip planned last year, but it got cancelled because of Covid.

What’s your advice for others who would like to join?

Try it. Don’t psych yourself out, don’t think you are not good enough. Try out for the MC. This is a once-in-a lifetime experience. And if you don’t succeed as a freshman, try out again in your second year.