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eljayb

Greetings from the UK - help needed!

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Hi all!

 

I've been searching online for a while looking for a marching band forum, and this seems like a pretty cool place! First, I think an introduction is in order:

 

My name is Louis, and I'm a freshman at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. I'm a grade 8 drummer, and at the university I play percussion in the concert band, symphony orchestra, as well as the pit orchestra for one of the theatre societies. Whilst this is great, I've been incredibly envious of the marching band scene that American high schools and universities seem to have - it looks absolutely fantastic, the level of teamwork and musicianship in some of the bands I've seen online is absolutely phenomenal. 

 

I soon hope to be running for a position on the university-wide music committee to start in September 2017, and I would love to try and set up a marching band as part of a manifesto pledge. Brass/wind standard at the university is very high, and there are a large number of percussionists that would be available. In addition to this, the music society and student guild often give out generous subsidies if there is enough support for setting up a new society. Trouble is, very few (if any) UK universities appear to have any sort of marching band/drumline, so there is very little material/expertise to turn to when trying to launch an endeavour like this. Of course there is the purchasing marching percussion - so do we buy snares, quads, and bass drums, or should be just start of with snares? Also, I imagine that leading a marching band is completely different from conducting a wind band, (having heard about things like cadences etc. on Youtube videos).

 

If anyone has every gone through a similar process, or has any material regarding 'leading a band' then I would be extremely grateful! This is a fairly daunting task but I'm determined to try and get it going, even if it's on a small scale at first.

 

Many thanks in advance,

 

Louis

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Hi all!

 

I've been searching online for a while looking for a marching band forum, and this seems like a pretty cool place! First, I think an introduction is in order:

 

My name is Louis, and I'm a freshman at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. I'm a grade 8 drummer, and at the university I play percussion in the concert band, symphony orchestra, as well as the pit orchestra for one of the theatre societies. Whilst this is great, I've been incredibly envious of the marching band scene that American high schools and universities seem to have - it looks absolutely fantastic, the level of teamwork and musicianship in some of the bands I've seen online is absolutely phenomenal. 

 

I soon hope to be running for a position on the university-wide music committee to start in September 2017, and I would love to try and set up a marching band as part of a manifesto pledge. Brass/wind standard at the university is very high, and there are a large number of percussionists that would be available. In addition to this, the music society and student guild often give out generous subsidies if there is enough support for setting up a new society. Trouble is, very few (if any) UK universities appear to have any sort of marching band/drumline, so there is very little material/expertise to turn to when trying to launch an endeavour like this. Of course there is the purchasing marching percussion - so do we buy snares, quads, and bass drums, or should be just start of with snares? Also, I imagine that leading a marching band is completely different from conducting a wind band, (having heard about things like cadences etc. on Youtube videos).

 

If anyone has every gone through a similar process, or has any material regarding 'leading a band' then I would be extremely grateful! This is a fairly daunting task but I'm determined to try and get it going, even if it's on a small scale at first.

 

Many thanks in advance,

 

Louis

 

I'm just a band dad but my suggestion would be to contact several of the band directors with established programs to see if they would be willing to give any guidance on starting a marching program.  Most of the marching bands in Texas have their own websites with contact information for each director.  It might be best to start with a smaller band program but below are some larger bands that I know have sites.

 

Haltom High School (one of the best in the state)

Richland High School (Really good band and very good drumline!!  You should look up some of their videos on Youtube)

LD Bell (one of the best marching bands in the state)

Keller High (one of the best in the state)

Keller Central (another really good band)

 

Another place to look would be Texas Music Educators Association.  Someone there might be able to point you in the right direction.

 

https://www.tmea.org/about/contact

 

Best of luck!!!  It would be an incredible sight to see a program you started at a U.S. contest one of these days!!

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    Trouble is, very few (if any) UK universities appear to have any sort of marching band/drumline, so there is very little material/expertise to turn to when trying to launch an endeavour like this. Of course there is the purchasing marching percussion - so do we buy snares, quads, and bass drums, or should be just start of with snares? Also, I imagine that leading a marching band is completely different from conducting a wind band, (having heard about things like cadences etc. on Youtube videos).

 

British marching band can be whatever you want it to be.  Marching band didn't exist at all in Japan before World War II, and they didn't have a competition circuit for it until I think the late 80s. Even though much of what their marching band scene is today was copied/borrowed from the U.S., and much of their competition rulebook copied from 1950s/1960s era UIL Marching guidelines.... they still made it their own.  Some Japanese bands use concert band instrumentation with marching percussion, some follow DCI style instrumentation (brass and percussion only).  Japan also doesn't have very many university marching bands. You wanna march violins?  March violins! lol.  But what attracted the Japanese to this peculiar cultural idea was the discipline and uniformity as well as the patriotism of that era....they liked the military-like structure of the institution and thought it would be a good tool to instill that in their nation's youth.

 

And who says you need a drumline?  Many of the best bands don't use one. Considering that your an inaugural group, I would maybe go for a Tarpon Springs or Jackson Academy approach and have like a "WGI on the Field" kind of setup.  Basically a backfield drumset, synth, bass guitar and a couple percussionists and have all your marching winds in front of them.  But if you feel your kinsmen would really dig the drumline flair and culture, then I would start with a single Bass 3 or 5, a single set of quads and 1-3 snares for a group up to 50.  For 50-75 I'd add another Bass (though I couldn't tell you for certain which one....you'd want a drumline guy's opinion on that). 75-100 I'd up it to 4 basses and one more snare, and at the 100 marker I'd add a second quad.

 

The Japanese also march indoors on wooden gym floors.  Americans march on a grass or turf gridiron field divided by yardlines.  WGI Winds and Soundsport groups from both America and Japan march on dance-floor style mats on gym floors.  You should consider what would be the most appropriate place to stage your performances to best capture the excitement of the activity.....maybe a floor level theater stage with stadium style seating.

 

As for where to go for help....I could help you as I've worked with band directors in schools before, I've taught marching fundamentals, I know how budget-speaking a good approach to take to get started....I have good friends who've started tiny band programs from scratch before and have offered help in that regard.  But you'll definitely need help from percussion and colorguard specialists in the activity to really bring that "something" to what you're trying to do.  I'd definitely look to the DCI community before asking band directors as a whole (I'd avoid the Yellowboard).  You'll find more people who have a specialization in marching arts and who are also used to working with smaller programs.

 

First person I'd contact?  Jonathan Doerr at Guardians.  Mainly because he has one of the most outside-the-box approaches of anyone in the activity, is quite young and has built a corps up from scratch himself with a very tiny budget.  You kind of remind me of him actually.  He might be too busy to help, but if he responds, he might be able to point you to people who can help.

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