Keeping it Fresh: New Ideas for Marching Band Rehearsal

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Keeping it Fresh: New Ideas for Marching Band Rehearsal

Author - Scott Tomlinson

 

You’ve got the show on the field. Now you are trying to keep the kids engaged while you keep running the show “one more time”.   Here are a couple little tips to keep the kids’ heads in it.

 

When that difficult transition keeps getting in your way and causing its fair share of wasted rehearsal time, try “speed cleaning.”

We know that while drill writers do their best not to intentionally put in difficult transitions, we understand that sometimes it simply cannot be helped.  Tight spots with the band going one direction and the color guard going the other while cutting through parts of the winds just happen.

Find the spot(s) that is causing you the most difficulty and clean it up.  Go one set before to one set after the trouble spot.  Set the metronome at the correct tempo, or even slower to start and run this three-set group.  Focus on direction changes and body orientation.  Once you move the selected sets forward then “rewind” those three pages facing the direction of travel to get back to the starting point.  Do this a few times without music, then with just the battery and/or pit playing on the rewinds.  This will help clean up the difficult direction changes as well as clean the paths for the guard. 

 

Are you having trouble seeing where the band is and where the guard is? With the high level of integration of these two elements, it is often difficult to clean and make sure everyone is on the right “dot”.  Have the winds wear white tops and the guard wear black, and you could put percussion in the white with the winds or choose a different color for them.  You will be surprised how much easier it is to clean the drill.  And isn’t that what we are all trying to do right now?  Get clean!

 

It is difficult as the season progresses to stick with the warm up procedure that you have incorporated since your summer band camp.  DON’T GIVE UP ON FUNDAMENTALS, but adjusting the process is a good idea. 

In your marching block, add some time for cleaning body orientation as they apply to your show.  This is a great time for you to teach new body, as well as to clean the body that is already integrated into your show.  Have your staff and/or leadership help to refine and detail every single thing.  From fingers together or apart to shoelaces to the ground or on the toe, this is the time to fine tune.

Knowing that the show has to get done has caused many to abandon the ever important Stretch and Fundamental block start to rehearsal.  Keep it up and just modify it to include the things that you have added to the show.  Then it is just a simple transfer of knowledge when the times in the show come around and the transfer happens!

 

Band is a family.  Band is a team sport.  Are you ever surprised that even though you have made it this far into the season that you still have kids that don’t know the other kids? Try this to not only get the kids working better together but also to be more responsible to their parts.

Have the students all draw a playing card from a deck, use as many decks as you need to accommodate your band numbers.  Have the kids with the same numbers, suits, suit and numbers or colors meet at some point before, during or after rehearsal to make sure they know one another and make some new friends. Change it up each day so they meet different groups. 

During your rehearsal, you can also call on these grouping to be the people that play while the others count through a rep.  This way you don’t just have the freshmen playing or the trumpets but will generally have a pretty good cross section of instruments across the band. 

 

Need something that is a little bit more fun for rehearsal? I know that it’s all fun in the band, but the longer the season goes it sometimes loses that element of fun.  Try to do an “Instrument Appreciation” day.  Simply have a day or 2 a week set up to have this activity.  You can do you and set it up how you want to but basically here is what I mean.  Those tubas have been hoisting that metal all season while the flutes are in their own element with theirs.  Have a day, where during your marching fundamental block, they switch.  Give them time to properly teach their partner the proper carriage and horn commands for the instrument they have, then go for it.  They should be able to incorporate the same marching fundamentals that they do with their instrument while gaining a whole new perspective on other instruments in the band. This activity is a hit with the kids and after it’s done, do it again! You could do a sign up or just assign the section exchange for the day.  This usually is best when the big competitions are behind you and you are enduring, I mean enjoying, the remainder of your football season.


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