Marching without experience

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    I am a sophomore in college, percussionist and I have never marched on the field before. In high school I was on mallets and my senior year I was drum major and throughout high school I was never afforded the opportunity to march on the field. One of my goals is to establish a corps style marching band program. One thing that will hold me back is that I do not have any marching experience. What is something that I can do so that this does not become a hindrance on my career aspirations and/or a hindrance on my future students.


    I’m brand new to teaching marching and have had no experience. Granted, I have only taught some parade marching to my middle school students, it’s a lot for them and I both to learn. Some of the best resources I have had in teaching myself so that I could teach my students have been other band directors in my district. They have been extremely helpful. Since you are in your teacher preparation phase, it would be a great opportunity to befriend local band directors (even if you aren’t student teaching at their school) and ask to observe their bands march. Most are very willing to teach and give advice. Not to mention, getting in extra student teacher observation time is INVALUABLE. If you’re looking for more military style drill, why not find out if you know a military (preferably Army or Marine for either parade or drill) drill instructor who could let you in on what they do and exactly how they teach it. You might easily find one if your school has an ROTC program. Here is a link for the Army’s manual on drill and ceremony regulations. It details every thing you would want to know regarding that specific type of drill.

    Here’s the one that the USMC uses:

    A lot of what you find in both manuals can be adapted pretty easily. Keep in mind that if and when you get a job running a middle or high school band program, you’ll want to decide how you introduce marching (or continue with an already established program) carefully. I have found that my middle school students do not particularly like marching, especially not in parades. I continued with parades because my predecessor had done them and I wanted to maintain program continuity, but I think next year we’re going to scale back and maybe do only one. Remember that you’ll do a lot of learning on the job, so don’t discount yourself if you’re not quite ready when you get out into the field. You will learn SO much SO fast, it will make your head spin. If you do your best to do research and educate yourself now, you’ll be ahead of the game, but be ready to teach anything. I currently teach band, choir, and general music to students 6-8 grade. The thought of that kind of job being a possibility never even crossed my mind while I was in college. I regret that it didn’t. Moral of the story: be flexible and knowledgeable and you’ll do fine. Best of luck.

    Candice Brown
    Band & Choir Director
    Ron Watson Middle School, Yuma, AZ


    I would agree with Candice…reach out to your local high school band directors. I switched form high school this year, but when I was there, would have been more than willing to have a college student come by our practices to observe. You may need to be cleared through the district office, depending how often you visit. Also, depending on the resources of the high schools in your area, you may offer a quid-pro-quo, like helping out with sectionals for your instruments. I taught in a fairly poor area, and had no money for sectional coaches. I would have LOVED if college kids came to help out with my sectionals.

    Also, watch lots of Youtube videos of good high school bands to get an idea of what shows are about. And don’t worry, when you get your first gig, you can always prioritize hiring help (marching and visual instructors). Be careful in the job you accept though, you don’t want to walk into a high school position that just won state or national marching competition the year before.

    Good luck!


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