4-30-2011 Always Marching It starts in early July and ends in late June. It involves great precision and discipline. High school marching band can be a full time gig for any music student that chooses to dedicate their life to this activity. High school marching band has three different seasons that a high school music student can participate in, fall, winter, and parade. The first marching season begins in early July and proceeds through early November. This season involves every section of the marching band. The three sections are the winds, the percussion, and the colorgaurd.
After the directors figure out the theme of the show, they then get someone to arrange the music so that they can get the music to the performers. The performers usually receive the music in early July. The performers then meet for two or three hours a week to rehearse the music before band camp. Band camp begins in the second week of august. For two weeks straight, the students endure long twelve hour days in the hot sun learning music and putting that music to drill. After band camp, school begins and the students meet two or three times a week after school for about three hours to rehearse with the colorgaurd and percussion.
By the end of September, the band is able to put on a seven minute field show in front of a large crowd. The first competition comes around in early October or sometimes even late September. At these competitions, the group performs for six different judges that score them based on each sections music and effect as well as the entire group’s music and effect. Once the judges tally their scores, they then rank all the groups based on their scores. There can be anywhere from eight to thirty two groups at one competition. After the competition, the band goes back to rehearsing and does this same routine over and over again.
In early November, every marching band in the area or “circuit” goes to the final event which is called “championships”. After a preliminary performance, the judges invite back the sixteen groups with the highest scores to compete in final, which then determines the circuit’s winner for the season. After the final scores are announced, the fall season is officially over. The winter season goes from late November to early April. There are two main differences between the fall and winter seasons. The first difference is that the winter season takes place in a gym rather than outside on a football field.
The second difference is that a floor is used rather than turf. After the fall season ends, students get about two weeks off to decide if they are going to participate in the winter season. The winter season involves the percussion section and the colorgaurd. The winter percussion ensemble involves two different sections of performers. There is the drumline, and the front ensemble. The drumline consists of people that play snare drum, tenor drum, bass drum, and cymbals. The front ensemble is comprised of students that play keyboard instruments such as marimba, vibraphone, and synthesizer.
This group works the same as the fall season marching band does. The musicians first receive the music. After practicing at home and at rehearsals, they then begin to add drill to the music. The students then go to competitions and perform to try and be the best ensemble in the circuit. The colorgaurd also participates in the winter season. They also use a floor in a gym to perform on. Instead of using music that is provided by the wind section, the colorgaurd coaches select a song that want to put choreography to.
These songs generally come from movies or are popular hits that have just recently been released on the radio. After the coaches create the choreography, they teach to the guard. The guard then competes at competitions, much like in the fall. The guard is comprised of flags, and weapons. The weapons section can contain rifles, and/or sabers. After the winter season ends, there is about two to four weeks before the parade season starts. The parade season brings the entire ensemble back together for one last moment. When high school band march in parades, they generally play two different songs.
The first song is generally a march or something very classic that will please the judges as you march past. The second tune is generally a more upbeat song that is popular among the crowd. For example, Evergreen High School played the hit “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga in last year’s Starlight parade in downtown Portland. The kids meet after school twice a week for two hours to put the music with their feet so that they can march down the parade route playing their triumphant music through the streets. Most schools generally participate in one or two parades per year.
Sometimes these parades are judged and a winner is declared. All in all, marching band is not something that only occurs once a year. Marching band never really ends for some kids because as soon as one part of the activity is over, another one begins. Just imagine if a student was also involved in a sport such as basketball or baseball. The life of that student would become pretty crazy when their sport started. No matter what time of the year it is, there will always be some kind of marching activity available to high school students.