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The marching band of any school lends tradition, pride, and excitement. The pageantry of a marching band’s parade and their stellar halftime performances provide a unique and exciting experience for those in the football stands and among the band members themselves. Percussion is the heart and soul of any marching band. The upper battery is made up of tenor drums and snare drums. Each of these drum sections has a lead drummer to which the others listen for rhythm and observe for things like stick height. Most college bands typically have 7-10 snares but some may have less than that or even more than 12. The lead snare is also called the center snare hence the term, “play like your center.” Beyond the other snares, the drum major often takes their rhythm from the lead snare. The drum major will watch the feet of the lead snare for the tempo and then direct out to the rest of the band.
Marching snare drums are designed slightly differently than snares in drum kits or concert snares. They are built for superb articulation and projection so that their sound is not lost on a large football field. Often a scoop, a curved plastic attachment, is added to the bottom of the drum to project the sound forwards. High tension snares became popular when higher head tension were developed with the use of high-strength fibers like Kevlar were included in the head. While a few drumlines continue to use drumheads which produce a softer sound, most have moved to these modern drumheads to increase their power and projection.
Pipe bands were the first to use these high-tension drumheads. Their snare drums are slightly different. They have an additional set of snares right under the top head and their snares under the bottom head are made of coiled steel wires instead of the synthetic gut snares that comprise marching snare drums. As a result these snares are snappier and play well in higher frequencies.
Aside from being sources of school pride and tradition, many marching bands focus on being technically proficient and creating remarkable performances. The University of Massachusetts Minutemen Marching Band is the pride of New England marching bands. Thousands of high school drum majors have learned how to lead a band from this band director. The percussion instructor has made a name for himself for having some of the most technically proficient and exciting drummers. This band generally creates one performance for the year and rehearses it to perfection.
One of the most traditional marching bands is the one at Ohio State University. They maintain the same style that they have had for decades and even use softer drumheads to keep up a traditional sound. Another recognizable and unique marching band is the Michigan Marching Band. This highly technical band and drum corps keeps up the high stepping technique of other Big Ten bands while also playing some of the most challenging music among college marching bands. John Philips Sousa once said that Michigan had the best college fight song.
Whether you are beginning high school marching band or playing for an elite university band, enjoy high-quality snare drums that meet your organization’s unique style and sound.