The Marching Band Warm Up
The warmup is vital to any physical activity. For marching band, it is crucial!
As you are preparing for the fall Marching Season be sure to develop a routine which will exercise all aspects of the Marching Program. It is imperative for your warmup routine to include all members of the band.
You will want your routine to be consistent. A good warmup should consist of two aspects: 1) Physical and 2) Musical.
It is important that you develop a solid physical warmup for the Marching Band. Stretching is critical at the beginning (and end) of physical activity. Be sure to target all the muscle groups. Find stretching exercises for the leg, buttocks, abdominals, back, arms (including wrists) and neck. Taking 15-20 at the beginning of each rehearsal for a good physical warmup will help to ensure better endurance and fewer injuries throughout the season.
When developing your band’s musical warmup, be sure to think about all the instruments in the ensemble. The brass and woodwinds should begin each rehearsal with long tones. The primary focus being the development of centered pitch, pure tone, focused breathing, and consistent intonation. These exercises should not be taxing but should be performed in the middle register of the horns. Remington heralded a long tone exercise which is perfect for this routine. To engage the percussion section, try incorporating an exercise like 8-on-a-hand. Mallet percussion can adapt this exercise with the pitches played by the winds.
Another key aspect of the warmup should include technical studies. These exercises are ideal for developing fluidity, clarity, and dexterity in the ensemble. An example of a good exercise is the Clarke Study No. 2. This exercise focuses on scalar passages and small intervals. Be sure to alter articulation between slurred and tongued when working on technical studies. Focus in these exercises should be guided towards consistency throughout the ensemble. Strive for clarity in all sections with a balanced sound where all voices are heard.
It is imperative to include flexibility (lip slurs) exercises for the brass players in the warmup as well. These exercises will build the endurance of the brass section and help to focus their sound in all registers. Developing a rhythmic exercise which can be overplayed in the woodwinds and percussion can engage all sections of the band.
In your warmup routine, be sure to include exercises which focus on rhythmic precision. This becomes crucial on the field when the ensemble is spread out where phasing issues may develop.
Within the warmup, be sure to include a tuning exercise for the band. This can be accomplished by incorporating a simple and short chorale written for Marching Band. It can also be a simple chord progression such as I-vi-I-V7-I scored for the ensemble. Be sure to also include the percussion in this exercise. A well-crafted chorale can include a tasteful battery part which enhances and does not detract from the exercise. Ideally, develop these tuning exercises in the keys of your show music. However, a simple exercise in the Keys of Bb and F will develop the desired skills.