Marching Band problems, need some advice.

Okay…I’ve been debating on whether or not to post this one or not, but since the marching season is now over, maybe you dopers can help me out here.

okay…quick background information
My freshman yesr(currently a senior) Our band director of 23 years retires. Thus, we don’t have a marching band that year.

Sophomore year- We get our current director in. We only had 25 members in the band, but for our first year under a new director it was ok

Junior Year- This year we only have 21 members. We are in danger of losing the marching band if our numbers don’t start improving. [Now would be the time to say that our town is a small town of maybe 500-750 people…and we’re very sports oriented. The people in this town would rather have no band and more athletics, but whatever. The school give us no funding for new instruments, uniforms or anything. Anyway, back to the story] Since we have such few members, we needed to do something…

This Year, My Senior Year- Our director decides to march 8th graders with us…boosting our numbers from a projected 22 to 34. Which everyone seemed to really like but they are 8th graders so we had to play easier music, even easier then we did before because of our numbers.
okay…I think that’s enough background information, to the question now

Because we have been hurting for numbers, Our Director feels she has to be EXTREMELY leanant on everything. We have no discipline, basically no rules, and no boundaries on what we can/cannot do, because our director is afraid of people quitting. I personally have been against that since she would tell us we couldn’t do something, and then not punish those who disobeyed. I have been telling her time and time again, if you let people get away with stuff, they will keep pushing and pushing and eventually you’ll have a band with 34 people, but no discipline.
Nobody takes it seriously. Nobody takes the time to make sure they have their music down well or the drill right. Nobody makes sure they are on the right foot or if they are staying on beat. When we’re in the stands…only like 10 people stay by their instrument and have the next stand song out and ready to go. Our director lets them just go talk to their friends, take our their jackets off…basically…be regular fans to the game who play the occasional song. The crowd doesn’t get into our songs, even at halftime. The cheerleaders don’t like the band because we take up their time for cheering. I can’t explain how bad it really is, but think about how bad you are picturing it…and mulitply it by like 10. It’s that bad.

Now, my question to you all is:

  1. Should we continue on this way, hoping and praying that it gets better, some how we’ll get like 15 new people and the discipline will come along?


  1. Stop doing the marching band, maybe just have a small pep band to play at home games with no halftime show?


  1. Let the band go away for a few years, run the risk of it never being reinstituted again, and hope that the numbers will increase and people will miss the band once it’s gone for a while?
    and another question:
    Do you think we should have been hard on the band’s discipline from the beginning, using the thinking process of “A band of 20 hard workers is better than a band of 40 slackers?”

thank you, and btw for all you bandies out there. This insightful article was written by a percussionist, whom I bet YOU thought was just someone who was loud and annoying and had no intelligent thought…that’s right…:slight_smile:
thank you for reading this post:)

YES you should have laid down the law from day one! First you put the fear of God into the hormone-ridden brats, THEN you get lenient towards the end of marching season. :slight_smile:

If your director doesn’t get mean, the band will never respect her, and will continue to suck.

She needs to write off this year and turn into a she-devil next year and start building a good program from the ground up. IMHO.

Ditch your HS band and join a Drum and Bugle Corps, if you feel the discipline and dedication in your HS band is lacking you will find the attitudes in a DCI corps refreshing to say the least. Just Plan on a much tougher working environment than any HS band will ever subject you to.

You have the Glassmen, the Bluecoats, and the Capital Regiment in your area.


Capital Regiment



Sacramento Freelancers 87, 88, 89

I can’t resist…

When it is discovered that you can’t play a wind instrument, they take it away from you and give you 2 sticks and make you a drummer.
If you can’t manage that job, they take one stick away and make you a conductor.


Dude, this sounds EXACTLY like what happened in my high school. Way cool, award winning, Rose Bowl going Band my Freshman year; new director my Sophomore year who couldn’t get a grip on the kids and didn’t have the connections for really nifty gigs–Band size dropped by 50% for that and the following 2 years. Crushing to a band geek like me (and a saxist at that!)

But cereal. Slackers in a band that small are best used as tackling dummies for the football team. It only takes a few dogs to make the whole band sound like crap–especially if you’re trying to do formation marches (which I can tell you as a former drum major overseeing a mighty band of 35). Formation marches with a band that small can work, but they look pretty zen and most folks don’t get it.

Hire a hit-man to off your director.
Trim the “band” to a “group” of hardcore blowers & bangers (keep it clean!)
Hire a percussionist to direct the small group (cuz percussionists can keep a beat in spite of what everyone else wants to do)
Stay off the field–a band that small needs to be concentrated or else they sound like so many soloists.
For Hoops season, work on integrating programs with the cheerleaders.

You need to improve the image of your outfit if you’re going to attract musicical types. The best way to NOT do this is to open the program up to “kids.” Then you need to create something that is cool (good bands with personality are cool).

Did four years of marching band in high school plus two years in college. Sounds like you and me had different experiences with marching band, though. My high school’s marching band size was always about 200 to 230 members. And, while we performed at the games, we were more focused on the marching band competitions. Thinking about it, being in a smaller band would have been cool. Everyone has a much bigger role.

Hoping and praying ain’t going to accomplish anything unless you (the collective and not-singling-out-anyone “you”) get out there and help it happen. I hope and pray that a beautiful, wonderful woman will walk in my front door and ravish me, but it ain’t going happen if I’m just sitting watching cartoons. You’ve got to get out there and entice people to be in the marching band, and you’ve at least got to get the older folks (the seniors and juniors) to be keen on the tighter discipline.

As much as I hate to say it, it sounds like this may be the best option from how you described things. You have no financial support from the school, and you have no moral support from the community. Doing this allows ya’ll to just concentrate on the music, and it may be appealing to the musicians who like to play but hate physical exertion or avoiding marching band for its geekiness perception.

This, I think, is a very bad idea. Like you said, the community and school don’t care about ya’ll right now. Chances are good that the band won’t be missed at all. Trying to restart something that’s been dead for a few years is likely going to meet resistance from the school (fearing having to deal with the costs, whether they ultimately would or not), and the community probably wouldn’t care one way or the other. Plus, you’d essentially be starting from scratch and go through all the growing pains all over again. Not worth it and probably sealing the fate of your town’s marching for much longer than a few years.

I’m with SnoopyFan on this. It’s better to start tough and get easier than to start easy and try to get tougher. From my own experience, you’re more likely to lose people getting tougher through a season. No matter what, yeah, you’re going to wind up losing some members. Your band director needs to take some assertiveness training. She sounds like she doesn’t know what she’s doing or that she’s aggressively trying to avoid a label of being a mean ol’ teacher. You don’t say, but how did the seniors and juniors in the band handle discipline? Were a large part of them slackers or hard-workers? Having the “veterans” help with the discipline may be a better proposition since the younger ones will see the older ones as peers. Of course, that could also be a reason for it failing (especially if the older ones act in a hypocritical manner). Still, it’s something to consider.

While I admit that I’m quite fond of the percussionist jokes (“Why does a drummer have an ounce more brains than a horse?” “So that he won’t crap himself in a parade!” and “What do you call a person who hangs out with musicians?” “Percussionists!”), a lot of the drummers I’ve dealt with in my ten years of band were intelligent folks and cool people.

This post was brought to you by a former trumpet player, who I bet you thought was just someone who played loud, refused to play any note lower than in-the-staff C, and enjoyed flirting with the cheerleaders.

The trumpet players were the smart cutiepies when I was in band. We had some cute sax players, too.

The drummers were the most fun to hang out with, though, and were the coolest. While I was there, too, they were DAMN good. Wildly talented guys.

I had the same experience. New director in my junior year. He was young, pretty fearless, and wanted success. He put the older, serious kids in leadership positions, and we encouraged those who didn’t want to be there to go play football. The next year, we were smaller, but out there kicking butt statewide (California, by the way).

Alumni were encouraged to coach, as well. A lot of talent was still around for a while to help the next generation. I learned lessons there which stand me in good stead today, both in music and in life.
Tell your band director to fine a spine. She might think it’s a survival issue for her to keep membership at a maximum, but the band won’t survive with people who don’t want to be there.
Former brasshole,


I’ll single you out. If you want things to change then you need to get off your butt and do it. Don’t whine and complain about how everyone else needs to get their act together.

Yeah, and if there’s no discipline people might go and complain about PDA rules. :rolleyes:

Speaking as someone who knows the situation, you’re way off mark here. Oh well, the band will be better off next year.

Oops, I forgot which number I was gonna choose.

Number 1, because we don’t need 15 new good members, we need to lose some control freaks.

Ooh, I’m gonna have to disagree with you in this. It’s not kevo’s job to get the band whipped into shape, and I don’t think it’s possible for him as a student to do it on his own. The band director needs to get her act together and make people do what they’re supposed to, or discipline people. That’s the director’s job. Not the students. And as another person who knows the situation, he has been doing his fair share already.

My opinion: go with option 2. :slight_smile:


The whole purpose of this thread was to reflect upon the past decisions made and wonder what others think. It wasn’t to personally attack someone or to put blame on anyone. Plus, at no point did I leave myself out of it, for it takes the director to lay the rules, and the band to follow them. If anything, it’s as much the band’s fault as the directors fault.

but anyway…disregarding those last two remarks, (except Literate Lady, thanks again:))

The next part of the post was to ask people for some help in finding new song ideas for pep band during basketball games. anything from links to song pages or ordering pages or anything that may help a band in need. Thanks a lot, and let’s remember that we are in general questions, not BBQ Pit, let’s not flame on a post that is meant for helping people.

A marching band with few members, less discipline, and a director who is concerned about program elimination, you say? Oh, I’ve been there.

The problem with doing anything yourself is that the impetus is on your director to do something about discipline, but it looks like there’s not much that she can do. When I was in high school, we got a new director my junior year – the third director in three years. Being in the same position as your director (our band did have a few more students as the town was a bit bigger – nearly 35 students, if I recall correctly – but there was virtually no community support and the program was always facing impending elimination), we had many of the same problems – students ran around in the stands with their friends during games, and halftime shows consisted of marching up the 50 yard line, forming a letter, and marching off the field. What our director basically did was wait for the undisciplined students to graduate while trying to increase discipline slowly and in very small amounts. (Towards the end of my last season, we actually had to stay in the stands through almost all of the game – imagine that!) I don’t see much more that can be done – try to increase discipline a little bit each year, wait for undisciplined slackers to graduate or quit, and try to build things up little by little, hoping that you don’t scare off too many students.

What can you yourself do about this? Not much, aside from encouraging your peers to be disciplined (if any of kevo4us’ peers are reading this, be disciplined! :wink: ). Keep looking forward to graduation and start preparing to be in a drum & bugle corps or a college marching band – and start practicing now, as the others will very likely be starting from a position of having been in top-flight marching bands in high school. In my experience, it was very difficult going from a high school marching band like yours to a top-level university marching band.

Good luck!

lel, entirely too many years ago a clarinetist and drum major…

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be one of the cutiepies in the trumpet section. However, yeah, a lot of my fellow guys in the trumpet section were stunning samples of male beauty. My friend and eventual section captain Luke always got whistled at by the ladies in the band. He also played soccer and had very nice legs as a results. He liked to show them off. The ladies in the band, good lord, I think 90% of my high school crushes were on them.

My junior year, we went to a band competition in Winter Park, CO. I got assigned to room with the percussion section. Lots and lots of fun was had by all. :slight_smile:

kevo4us, I’ll dig out my old stands music to see who the publishers and distributors are on them. It’ll probably be tomorrow before I find all of it (all my old band stuff is packed away somewhere). As far as types of songs to play, anything that is recognizable and has a good, quick beat is great. Older rock songs like “Louie, Louie”, “Barbara Ann”, “Land of a 1000 Dances”, and the like are good for that. "Sweet Home Alabama’ was usually in the rotation as well as “Cat Scratch Fever” and some of the old Santana songs. Also, a good thing to look into are short marches. We always had a couple ready to go during downtimes in the games (“Invictus” and “March from El Cid” are the two I remember playing most often).

The GQ forum is for question with factual answers. Since you’re looking for advice rather than facts, I’ll move this thread to the IMHO forum.

moderator GQ

I’ve been thinking of that ever since last year when I decided to become a music major in college. Been thinking about how hard I’m going to have to work, and how hard it’s going to be with no one around me forcing me to practice rudiments or solos. But I have auditioned and made it into our county honors band as a high chaired percussionist (do they have chairs?) and will be auditioning the week after next for it again this year (wish me luck). Thanks for checking out the music for me. I will bring those ideas up with our director and see what she thinks. We do play Barbera Ann, Louie Louie, and Land of a thousand. But we need to add more songs. Thanks again

And thanks bibliophage for the moving, I think we’re better here anyway:)

Of course you will have to practice studiously in college, but what I’m wondering is at what kind of college will you be studying music? I wonder if you might find yourself having to catch up more if you will be in a music program at a top-flight university as opposed to the local junior college. (However, I may be totally off; I didn’t do anything with music in college aside from one semester of college marching band. Besides, catching up is just difficult, not impossible. :slight_smile: )

Good luck at county honors, and have fun! Since my high school wasn’t at a level to go to competitions, I lived for regional honor band (about the same level as your county honor band, I’d imagine) as an opportunity to play more challenging music and meet fellow band students from other schools who were also usually fairly serious about playing.

Okay, kevo, good news bad news time. Bad news, I can’t find my marching band music. That irks me because I know I saved it. Good news, I did some internet searching and came up with the following online music sellers. I didn’t look at them too closely, but they ought to be a good jumping off point. They are:,,,, and The last one is a percussion music seller. Good luck with those. Another thing you might try is having the band director ask about the music libraries are any nearby (relatively speaking) community/junior college or universities.

Also, good luck with majoring in music. My first two years at UH were spent as a music education major. Overall, it was a lot of fun and a good experience, but I got frustrated and ultimately burned out on it all (and this coming from a guy who knew his freshman year of high school he was going to be a band director). Yeah, you’re going to be doing a lot of practicing (and not just on your percussion studio music and band music). Our curriculum included four semester of class piano training and six semesters of instrument studies. Plus there was the time spent in a piano room with my sight-singing and ear-training book. It’s a lot of time and effort, but it was fun. Good luck.

When I was a music major in college my ‘band teacher’ shared a little trick with me. Basically befor the first day of school he picked a day on the calender to get mad at us. The first couple of weeks he was nice and easy going. Summer was winding down and such. then somewhere in the third week, usually but may be eariler due to schedual, he would get really mad and yell and make people play their part from memory by themselves and such. After that he could go back to the nice guy.
Your teacher is smart to include the 8th graders. A good feeder program is essential to a small town band. What you band needs now is respect. If the band was respected in town then people would not leave. Now I hope you are band president or drum major, otherwise your telling the teacher how to do the job was not very respectful. I hope you have not been sharing your feelings with other band members. If you run down the band, who would want to be in it.

Start by respecting yourself ad your director, and your fellow band members.