Lenny Hart: 1959-1960

Lenny Hart OSU Drum Major

Lenny Hart, in summarizing what it took to become head drum major of the OSU band, said, "In 1948, when I was 10 years old, the band director in St. Marys, West Virginia, chose me to be the drum major of the elementary school band. In the summer of 1949 there was a majorette clinic held in Marietta, Ohio, the first held in the area where I lived, and was conducted by Devon "Deve" Kesling (OSUMB drum major 1947-48). The band director of my high school enrolled not only me, but all of the high school majorettes to attend the clinic. From Kesling's point of view, I'm not sure the majorettes learned a great deal, because everything he taught or demonstrated was very masculine, very precise, over exaggerated. But I did learn a great deal. The only problem I had was Kesling's theory that a drum major used a steel ball "Leedy-Ludwig" baton, 32 inches in length. Anything else was unacceptable, and, as he put it, 'only sissies used anything else.' The only problem I had with this was that I was 11 years old, and not yet five feet tall. The baton would hardly go under my arm and I spent a couple of years with a lot of banged elbows, shoulders, knee caps and whatever before I mastered that 32-inch baton."

"As I approached graduation from high school, my desire to attend Ohio State University and to become drum major had never faltered. The local band director arranged an interview and appointment for me with Jack Evans, director of the OSU Marching Band. I planned to enter the school of Music and Jack was going to interview me for a possible scholarship on the basis of my musical education field, but also requested that I bring a baton and let him see whether or not I had drum major potential. When we walked in and mentioned Kesling's name, Jack's first reaction was 'Oh, no! Haven't we run out of Deve's students yet?' I auditioned on the bassoon for a School of Music scholarship. My musical expertise on the bassoon was not overwhelming, and we went outside to the oval where Jack asked me to demonstrate my drum majoring abilities. On the basis of my drum majoring abilities I was awarded a scholarship through the School of Music. Jack told me that it was because I was going to be drum major, not because I was a great music student! He suggested that I learn to play cymbals, and if I did, he would let me try out and practically assured me a position in the marching band. I don't really remember tryout week. I didn't know much about cymbals, but I did know something about music. I was never auditioned, as such, and was chosen to be a member of 'L' row, or the drum row. In the fall of 1956, I was the first man out onto the field at halftime, as the cymbal players led out that year. I played the entire year as a member of the marching band, before becoming assistant drum major in '58."

"In the spring of 1958 I tried out for, and was awarded the position of drum major," explained Hart. "Eugene Weigel, who felt the drum major position at OSU was reserved for an Ohio boy, was the judge. I had the very pleasant experience of going up to him and explaining that if you work hard and set your goals high enough, anything is attainable. Weigel's concept, which was not a rule, was changed and he congratulated me on becoming the first out-of-state drum major for the OSU band. The next fall (1959), I got to be the last must out onto the field!"