How to Set Up a Marching Band


There's nothing like the thrill of watching a marching band perform during a parade. If the steady cadence of the percussion section doesn't get your feet tapping, then surely the joyful music of the trumpets and trombones will. Many bands make marching look easy, but a good performance takes countless hours of hard work. And no matter how much you rehearse, a proper set up is crucial to ensure a good sound and a great performance.

  • Assign a student leader, or two if necessary, to be your field commander. Also known as drum majors, these band members will act as conductors during performances. In addition to the field commanders, every band needs secondary leaders such as section captains or squad leaders who oversee various groups within the band.

  • Line band members in a marching block consisting of ranks and files otherwise known as rows and columns. Each member must stay within their given rank and file to ensure even spacing with other musicians. The band members at the end of each rank and front of each file are responsible for ensuring they maintain their correct position so that other musicians can use them as guides.

  • Ensure the band maintains a constant step size while marching. Generally bands use a step size of 22 inches, also known as eight to five because the marcher covers 5 yards in eight steps.

  • March your percussion section at the tail end of your formation so that their sound carries forward to all the other band members. If they are in the front or even the middle, the musicians behind them may not be able to hear them clearly, and their cadence is crucial to keeping all the marchers in time.

  • Memorize all the music that will be played during a parade performance. Having to flip pages while playing is not only distracting, the flip charts can obstruct a marcher's view. It's often difficult enough to see through certain types of headgear; you don't want to add any other obstacles if you can avoid it.

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