Marching Band Show Planning Part 3 With Wayne Markworth

From Great Music to a Great Show

Once some great songs have been selected, the staff needs to mold them into a cohesive and entertaining show. Use a “Show Planning Guide” to list several options for each part of the show – opener, second song, etc. Then mix and match and listen to possible combinations. Make sure there is variety, continuity, direction and a satisfying conclusion.

Answer the following questions as the show begins to take shape:

  • Will the show or theme match the identity or traditions of the band? Can you “see” the band performing this show?
  • Will the show be innovative – “bring something new to the table”?
  • Will the show highlight the strengths of the band (and minimize the weaknesses)?
  • Does the show have an interesting beginning and a satisfying ending?
  • Are the “pieces of the puzzle” put together in the right order?
  • Is the music program strong enough to stand on its own without the visual? (Would the music work “in concert?”
  • Will the theme/concept tie the music together into an effective show?
  • Will the visual create interest and help the viewer/listener enjoy the show?
  • Will the show maintain interest for the members and staff for an entire season?

Ingredients for a Successful Show

The current recipe for a successful marching band show calls for certain ingredients. Make sure to stay current because these change over the years. Current ingredients that are “the unwritten compulsories” for the competitive activity are:

  • The “essential music elements”
    • Melodic, harmonic & rhythmic content
    • Tension & release
    • Form & development
    • Variety of styles, moods & expressions, tempi, scoring/voicing textures
  • Woodwind technical moment(s)
  • Brass a capella (no battery) sustained sonority moment
  • Percussion feature as part of a full ensemble music production (and not an isolated feature)
  • Color guard full ensemble moment(s)
  • Featured solos and sections if musically appropriate

For a complete look at Show Planning, see Chapter 7: Show Planning in The Dynamic Marching Band.

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