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How to Prepare for the Marching Season

As the 2018-19 school year begins to wind down, preparations for the new marching season have begun. Here are a few tips & ideas to help you get ready for the new marching season.

SELECTING MUSIC: Stock Arrangements vs. Custom

Stock Arrangements

Most bands will purchase stock arrangements for their shows. Be sure to listen carefully to the samples. Listen for the following things when selecting stock arrangements (if you can get a preview score, even better!):

  • Range

  • Technical difficulty

  • Exposed sections

Choose music which will highlight your ensembles strengths. Just because something sounds cool doesn’t mean it will work for your ensemble.

Custom Arrangements

Most directors who go this route have probably spoken with a custom-music arranger. However, it’s not too late (but you’ll want to move ASAP if you want to pursue this option!). Custom arrangements are a great way to custom tailor music to highlight your ensemble’s strengths.

Be sure to get copyright permissions when looking at this option!


Recruiting is ESSENTIAL!

Set up your Mini-Camp dates and begin communicating with the middle school directors. Some things you will want to do:

  • Arrange bus transportation for the middle schools

  • Make announcements regularly between now and the event. Daily with in the last 7 days.

  • Visit the feeder program and get the students excited!

  • Pick out fun activities & ice breakers for the Mini-Camp

  • Don’t forget to recruit within your school

  • Choir & orchestra students make a great addition to the guard and sideline percussion!

  • Have music & play ASAP!

  • Even if it is just the fight song & stand tunes (better if you have the show music), this is so important.

  • Teach marching fundamentals & band traditions

  • Remind the upper classmen that their success this season weighs heavily on the recruiting of the Freshman class.

  • Be nice. Be encouraging. Be leaders!


Whether you are marching in a circuit or competing in local/state competitions, most competitions dates are set. Choose which ones your band will compete in. Prepare your calendar now and stick to it. Being prepared with dates before the Mini-Camp strengthens your expectation of full participation throughout the season. Make sure the students know the full commitment of the Marching Season:

  • Band Camp dates & times

  • Rehearsal schedule

  • Football schedule

  • Competition Schedule

  • Any Parades or Public Performances

  • Fundraisers

I hope this list of tips and ideas is useful! I wish each of you the very best.

And remember: never try to beat the competition but always strive to perform your very best. Trophies & awards are a bi-product of hard work, focus and goals – not the objective!

Happy Marching!

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