Showing posts with label March Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label March Music. Show all posts

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Most Commonly Played Musical Instruments in MARCHING BANDS

The Boy Scouts Marching Band.
The Boy Scouts Marching Band. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are numerous and variety of musical instruments played by the members of a marching band. Most commonly played musical instruments in a marching band include brass, woodwind and percussion instruments.

These instruments can be easily carried and simultaneously played by marching band members while marching.

Brass instruments of a marching band include Cornet, Trumpet, Tuba and French horn.
  • Cornet is similar to a trumpet which is usually pitched in the B flat. Cornet is a transposing instrument that features valves and it is extensively used in brass bands.
  • The trumpet is also a transposing musical instrument that has undergone numerous changes with the passage of time. The trumpet was initially used for the military purposes to declare danger and today it's used band members of Jazz bands.
  • Tuba is a deep sound-producing musical instrument and regarded as the largest instrument in brass-wind family.
  • The main feature of the French horn is that it produces a unique musical effect with bell point backwards.

Woodwind instruments in a marching band comprise clarinet, flute, oboe and saxophone.

  • The Clarinet has undergone numerous innovation and changes since its inception. As a result of unique sound, it is extensively used in band performances.
  • The flute is a man-made musical instrument and initially, the flutes were made up of wood.
  • Oboe is one of the musical instruments and has only two keys. This instrument is used in orchestras and military band performances.
  • The saxophone is available in a variety of types and sizes. Baritone sax, alto sax and tenor sax are the most commonly used saxophone varieties in musical bands.
  • Bass drum, cymbals, glockenspiel, timpani and xylophone are the percussion instruments used in a marching band.
  • Bass drum is a percussion instrument regarded as the largest members in the drum family.
  • Cymbals are shaken, scraped or struck percussion instrument with or without a pitch.
  • Glockenspiel is the best example of a tuned musical instrument
  • Timpani is a kind of musical instrument that emerged from the kettledrums.
  • The xylophone is a variety of percussion instruments that has resonating metal tubes and supported extensively by the frames.

Most of these instruments can be practised by enrolling in your school's music class. Most teachers allow students to practice these instruments during class. Try practising each instrument before choosing which one you will be using full time. It's important to know the ins and outs of each instrument, which will help with your decision. Visit your local music class for more information.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Moving Commands - Fundamentals of MARCHING BAND Maneuvering

University of Wisconsin Marching Band executin...
University of Wisconsin Marching Band executing the Stop at the Top. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Before teaching moving commands, the band should be familiar with marching and executing stationary commands. An entire level of complexity is added when the band actually begins marching. These commands can only be executed while moving. They are presented in the order I teach them. There are many different ways to both teach and execute commands; I can only present what I know.

Marking Time
Today, most all bands use a low mark time. Much like a drag right, the toe remains planted on the ground, while the heel lifts up. In this case, the command is "mark time mark" and the response is "and one." The left heel lifts first two inches or more on the "and" beat and goes up on the "one" beat. This repeats for the right foot. Thus, in two counts both feet have moved up and down. Marking time only occurs when feet are together and shoes should rub against each other. Make sure to keep the upper body solid throughout this move.

Most high school Marching Bands now use the glide step as the method of choice when marching. Some bands still high step or double time, but that is pretty antiquated and rare, even though proper execution makes it neat. The glide step is synonymous with rolling the feet. Teaching just this concept should take a few hours.

The point is to take all of the wobbles out of the upper body when marching. This allows for the vibrato that occurs from the mouthpiece bouncing against the lips to be eliminated. Have the new marchers stick their left foot out with toes up as high as possible. Then, have them individually practice transferring their body weight from the left to the right foot. Start slowly sticking out one foot while the other rolls up onto the toe. Gradually increase the tempo.

Now that the new marchers can perform a glide step, it is important to cover a basic eight to five stride as well as cover points and dressing and covering ranks and files while marching.

Forward March
The most basic and essential step of the band, this step is what is practiced when learning to roll the feet. "Forward march" is the command and the response is "and one." Once the glide step is mastered, this command is easy. Marching always starts on the left foot and feet move one in front of the other. The step size should be eight steps per five yards or 22.5 inches per step. Feet should not lift off the ground, rather be pushed out from the body along the grass with as much force as possible. On beat eight, the shoelaces of the right foot should be in the middle of the yard line.

Backward March
Back marching is done from the standstill (lock, lift, step) or while changing direction (touch and go). The basic concept involves elevating the feet as high as possible. Keep toes planted on the ground, while the heels rise more than two inches from the ground. Move feet back so that each has its own "channel" and they do not cross each other. Slightly lift the foot off the ground for each step, but do not pick the foot up or bend the knees.

From the standstill, the command is "backward march" and the response is "lock, lift, step." On the "march" command of execution, the band says "lock" while stopping previous marking time or movement. During the first beat of the execution, the band says "lift" and elevates their heels as much as possible, while keeping toes planted. Finally, the first step occurs on the "step" beat, where the left foot pushes hardback from the lift position to take a large first step.

Transitioning between forward and backward marching is extremely difficult. One must still take a full last step with the right foot, keeping the shoelaces in the middle of the yard line. This is the "touch" response to the "backward march" command. The second beat is the "go" response and involves transferring weight from the right to the left foot and starting the back march with the left foot. The key is not to move the feet on the "touch and go" response. They should be in a good position from the eighth step of forwarding marching.

A slide is a version of forwarding marching (usually). The purpose is to keep the horns pointing forward to the audience while changing the direction of the feet. Slides can only be called with horns up or at attention. The command is either "right/left shift hut" or "right/left slide hut" and the response is "and one." Key to this move is planting the right foot on the fourth count of the command with the toe still pointed up and turning on count one. The left foot is the one that always moves, no matter what slide direction. A left slide is easier as the left foot simply executes a ninety-degree snap turn. After the command, the movement occurring before the slide continues. For right slides, the left foot must snap over the right foot.

In slides, the most difficult part is keeping "square." This means that the shoulders continue pointing completely parallel to the sideline as marching continues. Hips should move thirty degrees, the torso should move sixty degrees, and the shoulders complete the ninety-degree turn. Such a distribution will help keep slide position throughout the move. Be careful when calling slides, as they can get tricky. For example, you can back march in a slide; the feet simply change direction. More confusing, however, is executing another slide while already sliding. When in a left slide, calling a right slide returns the move to forward march. You cannot call a backward march during a slide and expect people to return to the direction of the horns and back up. Instead, marchers should reverse the direction of their feet. Calling a left slide while already in a left slide is just asking for an "as you were sir"! (the error command)

Flanks are simply snap turns. On the "right/left flank hut" command and "and one" response, the right foot plants on count four and the left foot initiates the turn to the right or left. Motion continues in the forward direction. Pivots occur on the ball of the right foot and weight immediately transfers to the left heel as the move is completed. The entire body turns in a flank and, thus, the horn is pointing in the direction of march. A right flank can be called to cancel a left flank. Multiple flanks can be called on top of each other; this is a difference from shifts. Because the body moves along with the horn, flanks can be repeatedly called without error.

A special kind of flank is a to the rear. The command is "to the rear hut" and the response is "and one." Instead of planting the right foot and turning ninety-degrees, the turn is 180 degrees. The left foot still is the one to complete the turn and it is executed to the left starting on count four with the right foot planting and finishing on count one with the turn. Motion continues in the forward direction after the turn. Be careful not to anticipate to the rear because it is a very quick turn.

Obliques are unpleasant and often overlooked, for few field shows include them. The command is "left/right oblique hut" and the response is "and one." Instead of turning the body ninety degrees as in a flank, one turns forty-five degrees using a pivot turn on the ball of the right foot. The right foot plants on count four of the command and the left foot execute a snap turn forty-five degrees to the right or left on count one. The challenge with obliques is not starting the command, but marching in the new direction. Since you are moving at a diagonal, the step size is twelve steps every five yards. You now dress down the diagonal and cover to the left and right. To get out of an oblique, the Drum Major can call another oblique that results in a forward march or flank. Back marching can be called when in an oblique, but you cannot go from forward march to a backward oblique in one command. A good exercise with obliques is to make a diamond or stop sign shape with the band. Forward eight left oblique eight, left shift, right back oblique, et cetera. Doing this exercise with horns playing a scale is a real challenge and improves marching greatly.

In Sum and Other
In terms of moving commands, these are the most important. There is an entire list of stationary commands in another article that the band should also master. The biggest challenge is to vary step sizes: 16-5, 12-5, 6-5, 5-5, 32-5. There are also some other terms for commands that may be useful. For example, "march" can be replaced with "move." I think this sounds a bit ridiculous, but so be it. Also, the Drum Major can call a "band port arms" or "band trail arms" to move horns up while moving. Then, of course, there is high mark time. For resources directly related to your band, ask a Drum Major or your director. Marching style tends to vary by region, so make sure that what you teach is applicable to your band. Also, consider attending a Drum Major camp. There you will learn some of these commands again as well as more useful teaching methods.
This list of commands is completely my own; I used no resources or Internet sources just my own knowledge to compile it.

    By William J O'Brochta
    William O'Brochta is a recipient of the William T. Hornaday Silver Medal for Distinguished Service to Conservation in the Boy Scouts of America and William T. Hornaday Badge. He is an Eagle Scout with nine Eagle palms and has earned sixty-five Merit Badges. William is currently an Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 17 in Roanoke, Virginia working with Troop elections, new Scout advancement, and Eagle projects. He also serves as an active member of the Blue Ridge Mountains Council Conservation, Advancement, Eagle Board of Review, and Troop Committees. He has been involved in Scouting for more than ten years.
    William attends Patrick Henry High School and the Roanoke Valley Governor's School and is ranked first in his class of 500. Currently, he is working on a three-year environmental research project dealing with using plants to remove pesticides from the soil. He has presented this research at the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting. A musician, he plays trumpet and serves as Drum Major for the Marching Band.
    Committed to community service, he has volunteered for six months for Habitat for Humanity in Hungary and helped Breakell, Inc. General Contractors achieve LEED Platinum energy efficiency certification.
    William can best be contacted through his LinkedIn page:
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Friday, March 23, 2018


Marching band parading in the streets of Vienn...
A marching band parading in the streets of Vienna, Austria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Marching bands have been around for hundreds of years, and in the UK they were usually connected to the Military. Troops would be led into battle by drummers, buglers or pipers, and these instruments were used to give signals for retreating, etc. Indeed, even during WWII platoons of fighting troops were led off the landing craft and up the beaches of France by a piper. Military bands still have an important role in today's armed forces, but mainly for ceremonial purposes, as often seen on Beating Retreat, Trooping the Colour or the Edinburgh Tattoo.

Various styles of marching bands are now in existence. In the UK we tend to have traditional marching bands, consisting of snare drums (with either bottom snares or both top and bottom snares such as the Premier 1049-S), bass drum, tenor drums, cymbals and then tuned instruments such as bell lyres, bugles, valve trumpets and other brass and woodwind. Such bands are often used by organizations including the scouts, air training corps, sea cadet corps etc and are a familiar sight at parades and festivals in British towns.

Another big part of marching music comes from Pipebands, which of course originated in Scotland but are now popular all over the world with many top bands coming from Canada and the USA. Whilst the melodies are played by bagpipes, the drum corps has a very important role to play, often with 6 or more snare drummers playing extremely complex rudimental phrases on High Tension snare drums (such as the Pearl FFXP or Premier HTS800). These drums have kevlar drumheads tuned up to an incredibly high pitch, so the drums have to be extremely strong to withstand the huge forces put upon them.These drums also have snare wires under both the top and bottom heads, giving a very crisp and clean tone which will pick up even the softest of grace notes. A bass drum of around 28" is used to keep the pulse of the band, whilst tenor drums add intricate mid-range tones, often using 3 or more tenor drums of different sizes and pitches. Some tenor players such as Tyler Fry have taken tenor drumming to a whole new level.

A huge growth area in the world marching scene comes from the American style Drum Corps or showbands.The drum corps usually have not only snare drums and a selection of various sized bass drums, but also multi - tenors/quads, cymbals, and a pit at the front featuring a range of tuned percussion such as marimbas, xylophones, bells etc. The rest of the band is made up of brass players. These bands tend to play some extremely complex musical arrangements and are a big part of the music education system in the USA.

Marching snare drums have changed dramatically over the last 100 years or so, from crude drums with rope tuned calf heads to today's high tension models made from the finest birch, maple, or even carbon fiber, with kevlar or mylar drumheads and hardware manufactured from lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum.

The British Military Bands of HM Forces still have huge popularity both at home and abroad. Tourists in London will often see the bearskins and red tunics of the bands of the Guards divisions on duty around Buckingham Palace, whilst the Drummers of the Royal Marines continue to wow audiences worldwide with their incredible skills and drumming displays. The musicians of Her Majestys bands tend to be extremely talented and versatile players capable of performing many different styles of music... indeed as an example, a member of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force may find themselves performing with a full military band one day, a fanfare team the next day, and swinging with the RAF Squadronaires dance band in the evening! Despite their musical skills, however, these men and women are soldiers first and undergo the same military training as everyone else.

For drummers looking to start playing with a marching band, there are a few avenues... Youths can apply to their local Air Cadets, Army Cadets, Boys brigade or Sea Cadet band who will provide an instrument and tuition, with the possibility of performing too many varied audiences. For adults, most towns have either a pipe band or drum corps, and they will always welcome new members. Most Bands have a website, and these can be found under headings such as British Youth Band Association (BYBA) and Traditional Youth Marching Band Association (TYMBA) or for pipe bands the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA).

Friday, October 13, 2017


English: Holt High School's Marching Band.
Holt High School's Marching Band. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Marching band is a term given to musicians, dance teams, or color guard members that play woodwinds, brass, or percussion instruments while adding marching with their performance. They wear costumes that consists of the organization or school's name or symbols as part of the uniform.

Marching bands are differentiated by size, function, and style of their performance.They usually perform in parades which are outdoors, but they also perform in indoor concerts that apply the traditions and flair from outside performances. They also perform at unique events such as band competitions, especially during sporting events.

Marching bands are believed to be originated from the troops of wandering musicians who performed at celebrations, functions, or festivals throughout the world in ancient times. Bands with names pertaining to certain areas came into prominence after the emergence of different states, named "Military Bands". This is the main reason why many marching bands still wear costumes similar to military uniforms.

There are various types of marching bands:

Military bands: These bands have been classified by historians as the first type of marching band. The instrumentation rarely varies from the percussion and brass instruments. They usually march forward in straight lines and the music is played in a continuous form to assist the military group who march to the tune and rhythm.

Show Bands: These bands generally perform at sporting events providing entertainment.

Carnival Bands: These bands usually participate in sports competitions and parades. They usually use instruments of percussion and brass.

Scramble bands: They are also known as Scatter Bands and they often include humorous rudiments in their performances.

Drum and Bugle corps style: These bands follow the military type of marching along with the music. They are divided into classic and modern bands.

Some other important changes that have occurred in marching bands are the addition of dance lines and the inclusion of color guard members. In recent days, most music bands are usually associated with American football besides the military and police organizations.

No matter what type of band your performing in, hard work and dedication are the keys to success. Yes, it's going to be a lot of work. Though, a person can learn so much through these types of bands, including teamwork and patience. If one person is unable to perform at their highest level, the entire band can be thrown off. This takes a level of commitment that can surpass most recreational activities.