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Marching Band Competitions Rehearsal Tips- Part 1

Consider the purpose of the marching band show. Marching band shows are a combination of musical and visual elements coming together. A football half-time show is entertainment and a competition show highlight a number of different competencies in the marching band unit. So, detailed planning is evident in preparing the marching band field show.

What elements are involved in planning the marching band show? The students, equipment, special musical arrangements, visuals, props, color guard choreography, technology, and band parents? It can be overwhelming. The solution to this daunting task – the marching band lesson planning process. “Field show, or drill, design is a blend of art, craft, and technological skill with a heavy dose of passion.” This detailed planning of a show includes completion of an effective lesson plan related to the academic side of the overall music program. Creating the lesson plan for a marching band competition show is necessary for the administrative and academic side of the band program. It provides a legitimate road-map to the music educational aspects of a band program. The goals established for the marching show are outlined in the lesson plan, which involves aspects of individual warm-up activities, formal warm-up activities, technical exercises (music and marching), and focused assignments on the marching show drill and music. This approach creates the formative evaluation needed on a daily basis, specifically for grading purposes. Also, the entire marching staff can be involved in creating the lesson plan.

Here is one example of a lesson-plan including focus on a marching competition show.

Information posted in red offers more perspective about the presented information.

1E/ 2B/ 3A, 3C,3D, 3E- (TEKS – State of Texas)

-Pre-Warm- Up Activities (individual tuning) 3- 4 minutes. (Individual warm-up activities are crucial to having a structured full ensemble warm up session, specific activities should be issued during this time- plan accordingly and be creative.)

Pre-Warm-up Activity- 5 mins

Reinforcement to Ultimate Drill Book -UDB App

(Marching show requires all band members to use this technology to execute learning drill formations- Ultimate Drill Book)

Receive and review coordinates for Mvt. #2 and introduction of Mvt. #3

(Marching band members must use drill charts and coordinate sheets to learn their specific drill positions) (Using drill charts results in learning drill sets in a shorter period of time.)

Marching Techniques Review- (15 mins)

Graded Activities

  • Student review and reinforcement (across the floors) of all learned marching techniques utilized for show (forward march, left and right slide, backwards march, step size review)

(The exercise is important to refining marching technique throughout the season- time varies with student execution of the exercise)

(Keep a quick pace of these exercises, observation of execution is important- pull students out that need additional assistance)

  • Box Drill Exercise (Taken from “Typical Musical and Marching Problems and Solutions for the Modern Marching Band”

Exercise #1 - Forward march eight, and right flank four times (box)

Exercise #2- Forward march eight, and left flank four times

Exercise #3- Forward march eight, and to the rear four times

Utilize exercises with full ensemble, or use in actual sectional rehearsals review and reinforcement. Drills were learned in band camp, and students must be familiar with exercises. When using with full ensemble, drum majors should conduct the activity. During sectionals, section leaders should conduct activities. Band members with marching deficiencies will work with woodwind or brass sergeants.

Special Field Rehearsal -(60 mins)

-Review, adjustments, and reinforcement of mvt. 3 drill sets #21 through 26

(focus attention to specific sets and measures of music)

(The focus is consistently adjusting and reinforcing band members understanding their positions in the drill formations and strengthening their movement with the music)

-Use UDB App to assist in locating drill positions/ students have 45 seconds to locate and mark their drill positions (field chalk- section leaders)

(Use of technology-UDB App- is a highly effective tool for students to use in learning drill positions) (Section leaders are required to assist their section members in finding their positions)

Assessment: (These assessments are completed for grading purposes)

  • Ability to find given sets using UDB App (student demonstration of using and understanding the Ultimate Drill Book app) (Section leaders are assigned task of assisting their sections in locating positions in drill formations)

  • Ability to execute drill moves in less than 2 runs

  • Ability to align music and drill movements with less than 3 runs (Repetition is necessary for proper execution of the drill)

  • Singing music and execute drill, then play music executing drill less than 3 runs- focus attention on vocalizing articulations during the singing process

  • Full execution of Sets #21- 26 of mvt #3 – Formal Evaluation- Exam Grade (video record performance for evaluation)

Additional Assignments:

Review UDB positions and complete dot-book assignment (the dot book assignment is to reinforce student understanding of their positions on the field)

  • Brass and Woodwind Sergeants assist band members with locating their positions using UDB App (responsible for reinforcing students who struggle with understanding field positions “dots”) (15-minute process applied during the marching techniques review)

  • Members submission of recorded video demonstrating memorization of selected measures 31 thru 55 (continuous repetition for memorization of musical selection utilizing Google Classroom)

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