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  • Writer's pictureEric Levy

Mastering the Details: Tips for Marching Band Season

The third week of the marching season has dawned upon us, and we find ourselves at a pivotal crossroads in the journey toward excellence. By now, your ensemble's show is likely taking shape, with music, drill, and choreography weaving together into an amazing production. However, as we enter this crucial phase, it's time to shift our focus. It's time to move from simply getting the show onto the field to perfecting every nuance, logistics, and detail surrounding your performance. So in this article, we'll explore how directors, instructors, students, and dedicated band parent volunteers can work together to fine-tune every aspect of your production, from setup to exit and embrace the finer points of etiquette and leadership that set exceptional programs apart. Welcome to Week 3 of the competitive season!

Marching band students performing with a visual prop in the background
Calvary Christian School at FMBC Championships 2019

Mastering the Art of Setup and Logistics

As the saying goes, "It's not just the destination; it's the journey." In the world of marching band, this couldn't be more accurate. Your show is not just about the performance; it's about the entire experience, from the moment you step onto the field to the last note echoing in the stands.

1. Perfecting the Entry:

The journey begins with the entrance onto the field: every step, every formation, and every detail matter. Take the time to rehearse the full entry with accuracy, vision, and precision. Ensure that everyone knows their place and timing, and remember that confidence starts with strong fundamentals and clarity through understanding.

2. Front Ensemble Setup:

For those with a front ensemble, timing is everything. Work out the logistics of getting your equipment onto the field swiftly and seamlessly. Discuss and practice where and when each piece will be placed, who is responsible for power (if applicable), and what the full process is to minimize setup time. All be conscious of the boundary rules which now include a 15-foot penalty line for the performer's area, from the sideline forward.

3. Volunteer Responsibilities:

Band parents and volunteers play a pivotal role in your success. Assign and communicate responsibilities clearly. From prop crew to uniform managers, their dedication ensures your focus remains on the performance. Dictate your needs and expectations, and reassure them of why they are so important to the success of your program. Be sure to carefully explain the way YOUR program does it, isn't always the same as everywhere else and there may be reasons that work specifically for you. These details can go a long way.

4. Flow of the Show:

Think of your show as a book, from the front cover to the back jacket with everything nicely woven in between. Each moment should flow seamlessly into the next. Rehearse the transitions, cues, and changes diligently, ensuring that there's a natural progression from the first note to the final chord. But the most important step is connecting everything including the setup to the exit, as that is what ensures the performers get used to the feeling of going from 0-60 every single time without having to worry about new variables on show day.

marching band percussion section performing with drums
Boca Raton HS at FMBC State Championships 2023

The Art of Pre-Performance Rehearsals

The final product you present on the field is more than just the music and choreography; it's the culmination of every detail rehearsed to perfection.

5. Pre-Performance Etiquette:

Teach your students not just what happens on the field but also how to conduct themselves off it. Encourage respect and sportsmanship when walking around the event, whether as a group or as individual students. Remember, you are ambassadors of your program.

6. Retreat Protocols:

Your student leaders should have retreat protocols in place. Everyone should know where to stand, when to salute, and how to respond during the awards ceremony. These moments reflect your program's character and poise.

marching band at standby during awards ceremony
FMBC Championships Award Ceremony 2022

Inspiring Leadership

7. Student Leadership:

Empower your student leaders to set the tone for your ensemble. They should lead by example, not just on the field but in all aspects of your program. Encourage them to inspire and mentor their peers.

8. Positive Atmosphere:

Create an environment where all students feel supported and encouraged, not just within your ensemble but with fellow competitors too. A positive atmosphere fosters growth and mutual respect.

As we embrace this pivotal juncture in our season, remember that success lies in the details. It's about perfecting every aspect of your performance, from setup to exit, and embodying the values of respect, poise, and leadership. Together, we can make this season one for the books, leaving a lasting impact not only with our music but with our character and dedication as well. Remember, "The way you do anything, is the way you do EVERYTHING!"


About FMBC:

The Florida Marching Band Championships (FMBC) is a leading organization in the marching arts dedicated to the advancement of the marching arts in Florida. With a rich history of promoting musical excellence, FMBC provides a platform for young musicians to showcase their talent, learn, grow, and inspire others.

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