Teaching Tip #3 – Rehearsal Techniques

Focus on ONE thing at a time – Music OR Visual

The huge number of details & skills for any one segment can be overwhelming to the younger members of the marching band. When rehearsing on the field, there are so many things to worry about, confusion can often take over. It is almost impossible for the young members (and sometimes the veteran members) to march and play (or spin) and be focused on problem solving. They each need to focus on one thing at a time.

First, focus on one area at a time – Music OR Visual. Use the following 3 part routine most of the time (until they look AND sound great in a segment):

  •  a. March a segment, singing or doing “Air & Valves.”  (Visual focus)
  •   b. In either the beginning or ending set of the segment, stand or mark time and play. (Music focus)
  •  c. Reset and march and play. (Synthesis of both skills)

This will raise the level of both marching and playing much faster than always marching & playing at the same time. Gradually the separate skills become automatic as they are synthesized.

The Front Ensemble plays all the time since they have no marching responsibilities. Early season use of the amplified metronome will be a big help here.

Further, one specific skill or problem should be addressed at a time. It might be dictated by the director – “focus on a straight line path.” It might be different things for everyone in the band. What is helpful is for the director to say “focus on ONE music (or visual) event that is the biggest problem for you.” Give them 5 seconds to think about it and then go.

Focusing on ONE thing at a time – Music OR Visual – is the most efficient way for the students to become comfortable at marching and playing (or spinning) and achieve their potential.

(For a more in-depth look at Rehearsal Techniques, check out The Dynamic Marching Band Chapter 6.)

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