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These simple steps can maximize your rehearsal time and help your marching band achieve new levels of excellence

By Rob Stein, StandingOMarching.com

Photo Many educators have varying viewpoints on how to clean drill. Most instructors teach in the same process they were taught. After being instructed in many groups with various teaching methods, I apply these key aspects and find them to be the most efficient for a clean, crisp end result. Although some of these steps may seem to be “wasting time,” remember that doing things correctly is the top priority, and will sometimes take more time than rehearsing in a hastened, more inefficient manner.

1. Break down complicated sets into groups of students and rehearse by rotating the groups.
Example – There is an ensemble box rotation. Break down the set by assigning group numbers to each line of the box. The most outside line is “group 1,” the next line, “group 2,” the third line from the inside is “group 3,” etc. For the first rep, the only members running the set are those in “group 1.” This will benefit the students in numerous ways; the most obvious being that there is more attention to the individual since the staff only has to concentrate on a small percentage of the band. Students will always perform better when they know they are being watched and analyzed. Another benefit of this method is the students will better learn where the key dress points are during the move, allowing them to better understand their path and step-size while simultaneously ingraining the move in their muscle memory. After “group 1″ has successfully performed the move a few times in a row, rotate to “group 2.” Repeat the process until each line has performed the move successfully. After that, start adding in more groups; this can be done in numerous ways. For example, rehearsing the two most outside lines, then gradually adding from the outside-in, or vice versa. The more time there is for the project and the more ways the move is rehearsed, the better understanding your students will get and the cleaner the overall product will be. Although this step is somewhat time consuming, if implemented correctly, you will notice immediate results and improvement with your band’s visual execution.

2. Always make sure the students are starting and ending at their exact written locations.
Photo As obvious as this step may seem, I have been involved with many organizations in which the phrase, “we gotta get through these pages” has overpowered the implementation of efficient rehearsal techniques. The common misconception that the act of doing more means the group is “getting better” is completely false; in fact, the more a band rehearses incorrectly, the worse they will get. Rehearsing bad habits only means the students will get better at performing incorrectly. In order to ensure this process, it is imperative for at least all section leaders and staff members to have drill sheets at all times; and of course, every marching member should have their “dot book.” (A “dot book” is a small note pad students keep on their person during rehearsal which contains their exact location for every drill page.) Spray paint can aid in this process significantly; assign section leaders and field staff to paint a small mark on the dot of each member of their section for starting and ending locations. After the dots are painted once, rehearse the band with quick, numerous reps. During the move have the performers dress to the form as directed, and once the rep is finished they look down to see what adjustments, if any, need to be made. This step will greatly increase the student’s muscle memory, as will especially make the beginning and ends of sets much clearer.

3. When correcting students, always be sure to give them the information needed to make the desired correction.
Another somewhat obvious statement, but many instructors seem to overlook this step in the heat of rehearsal. Consider the phrase, “Brass, you folks really need to improve your spacing. Reset!”, or, “Come on guys, you can do better than that! Reset!” We’ve all been guilty of saying something similar at one point in our marching education careers, but what information is actually given in those statements? None. Even in the first phrase, the instructor tells the brass to improve their spacing, but there is no information given on how to do so. As experienced educators, we have a tendency to forget what it was like to be a beginner in the marching arts and sometimes take for granted what our students do or do not know. Students will receive higher quality education when they are given the “why’s and how’s” of the activity. For example, a proper phrase would be, “Brass, you folks really need to improve your spacing. Where is the dress point? Point to it. (Everyone points to the dress point. If they don’t know, inform them.) OK, so that’s where your eyes should be looking. Make sure each step of the set is equal in size, some of us are getting there too early and taking really small steps at the end. Think about that this next time! Reset!” Empower the students to be their own instructors, share with them the knowledge that you possess; this will greatly increase the performance qualities of the students, and will make the director’s job much easier when the members attain this knowledge and become more self-sufficient.

Rob Stein is founder and owner of Standing ‘O’ Marching Arts Specialists. He holds a master’s degree in music education and a bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance. His experience includes work with drum corps, marching bands, jazz bands, wind ensembles, pit orchestras and private lesson studios. The Standing O team specializes in customized original compositions, and also offers drill writing, color guard books, clinics, consultations and leadership training. The staff is trained in modern methods of musical and visual instruction, focusing on the development of body awareness, health and fitness, and overall musicianship.

Photos and text courtesy of Rob Stein.

From The 50 Yard Line PosterDocumentary winning awards, praise on film festival circuit

A new independent film delivers an emotional, insightful look into the student marching band experience. The documentary From The 50 Yard Line is currently touring film festivals and will hopefully obtain broader theatrical and DVD distribution in the future.

High school bands across the country are also hosting benefit screenings of the film to raise money for their band programs.

The movie is already an award winner. Its world premiere took place in August 2007 at the Rhode Island International Film Festival where it received the Grand Prize Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary. In September 2007 it was named Best Family Film at the Bluegrass Independent Film Festival.

Director Doug Lantz has been thrilled by the initial audience response and early critical acclaim.

“Many talented people have put their hearts and energy into putting this film together,” Lantz says. “We believe it expresses the marching experience in a way that hasn’t really been done before.”

Student experiences, budget cuts take center stage

The film’s story revolves primarily around the Centerville Jazz marching band from Centerville, Ohio, with additional segments featuring the Fairfax H.S. band from Los Angeles, California. The two bands provide a great contrast, with Centerville boasting a long tradition and Fairfax making a comeback after 18 years without a music program.

Filmmakers followed the Centerville band members for eight months, starting with spring auditions and continuing through the summer band camp and fall competition season. That extensive time with the students provided a bounty of quality footage.

Some of the best moments feature students sharing from-the-heart comments about how important band has become in their lives. The power of belonging is evident when students tell their fellow members that band has helped them overcome fears and deal with life issues.

The film also incorporates a broad range of perspectives from parents, judges, directors, school principals, academic professors, town mayors and more. The film is effective at bringing to light the benefits of music in education, and highlighting the budget woes that have wiped out music programs at some schools.

Lantz wants a wide audience to hear the film’s message about the importance of adequate funding for instrumental music programs.

“We want to help communities where band programs have been cut or are suffering due to cutbacks,” Lantz says. “This is something that we are passionate about.”

Film attracts talented production team

Filmmakers Dave Johnson and Doug Lantz created early buzz for the film at Sundance. Lantz has an ideal background to bring this film to life. He was raised in Centerville and had first-hand experience as a member of the band. He is currently based in Los Angeles where his professional experience includes work at Miramax Films. His credits as a freelance journalist include ABC News, Good Morning America, Nightline, 20/20 and A&E Biography.

When he began working on From The 50 Yard Line, Lantz’s passion for the project spread quickly.

“As I shared the message of the film with friends and co-workers, people eagerly volunteered their time and talents,” Lantz says. “We soon had a production crew including a talented editor who now works for ESPN, camera ops, co-producers, a lawyer and even an animator from Disney. Everyone involved in this film was involved because they believed in the importance of instrumental music and the affect that it has on a young person’s life.”

The team’s experience is evident in the 103-minute film. This is a high-quality production, with sweeping camera shots and a perfectly synchronized score. The soundtrack incorporates both soaring orchestrations and indie rock tunes that would be worthy of a separate release on CD. The film is expertly paced, with highs and lows that will move you along an emotional rollercoaster. One moment you choke up during a kid’s speech, then you laugh out loud during on-the-street interviews where non-band folks try to define band terminology.

“Seeing the affect that the film has on the audience makes all of the hard work worth it,” Lantz says. “One common statement we hear after every screening is ‘I laughed, I cried and I learned something.’”

The humor and variety broaden the film’s appeal to make it entertaining for people outside of the band activity. The film takes fun, unexpected turns, such as the scene showing animals from the nearby zoo as they respond to the music. Another interesting segment is when drill designer Michael Gaines explains his craft. The corresponding video becomes a split screen showing Gaines’ original computerized drill formations along with high-camera video of the band performing the same drill.

The film’s fun approach continues into the closing credits. That’s where we learn the answer to the question, How many miles does a marching band performer march during one season? A trombone player wore a pedometer through all rehearsals and performances, and she reveals her answer at the end of the film. (We won’t spoil the answer here … view the film to find out!)

Help get the film to your area

From The 50 Yard Line continues to be showcased at film festivals and benefit screenings across the United States and around the world. Visit FromThe50YardLine.com for the latest news about upcoming screenings, and to sign up for email updates.

According to Lantz, they started with film festivals because that circuit can reach distributors in Hollywood.

“We are hoping Hollywood will take notice as we travel to film festivals and pack the theaters with the enthusiastic band family,” Lantz says.

The filmmakers encourage you to email and call the film festivals in your area to ask that they include From The 50 Yard Line in their festival.

Finding and capturing ideas for a successful marching show

By Bobby Hullett, SoundingGround.com

Already, or constantly, thinking about “next year?” Programming your show can sometimes be a daunting task. The process is your key and here is one method to prepare your program for success.

Photo The Napkin: Staying ahead of the curve is essential. In many instances, directors and design staff will have the Idea Engine running full tilt constantly. Keep an open mind and be receptive to your surroundings and everyday life. You never know when that elusive idea is going to flip your internal switch. When it does and the bells and whistles go off, jot it down on anything, even a napkin. As you build your own catalog of epiphanies, be mindful of your program’s limitations, capabilities, and potential. There is nothing wrong with shelving an idea until your program provides a symbiotic opportunity. If your program severely overreaches its grasp, the end result will most likely leave you with unhappy students, discouraged parents, a frustrated staff, and a great idea that simply did not come to fruition. All out of ideas? Never be afraid to ask for help.

Staff Mealings: Communication between the director, designers, and staff is essential, especially in the planning stages. Schedule a design meeting around a meal. Whether you are grilling at your house or reserving a few tables at the local wings authority, food will create a relaxed social atmosphere and get the creative juices flowing. Ownership and “buy in” to the idea is crucial and essential for all members of staff, top to bottom. Everyone involved in the planning process should have an opportunity to give and receive feedback, present their own ideas, as well as modifications to others, and remember to be objective. Most of the concepts brought to the table will be the vested interests of someone and should not be callously thrown under the bus. Make every attempt to establish and maintain a fluid organic process.

Photo The Idea Engine: Your concept will usually begin with a theme. For example, you might want to base your show around the color blue. Your next decision will be either visual or musical. In most instances, it will not matter which emerges first, for one leads to the other, leaving it a circumstance of choice. From the visual perspective, you might choose to center the show around elements involving the sky and or water … this will then lead you to your musical counterpart. If you approach the musical avenues first, you might decide to employ the blues and a little jazz … this will then create the visual persona you seek. The idea engine is limitless and always in production. The question and challenge emerges as simply, “Will this make a great show?”

Feed your PETS:
Pacing. Your two most important factors inherent in pacing are the length and undulations of your show. In length, you will need to find a balance between the stamina of your ensemble and the phraseology which best serves the written program. The undulations of your work (peaks and valleys) must provide tension and release, both musically and visually, to create the emotional response you desire from your audience.

Effects. The pivotal ingredient that separates the shows of legend from the rest of the field is effect. Coupled with pacing, you should plan your effects moment to moment. It is important to remember that the entire program cannot be “the effect” simply because there will be nothing available for contrast. Your effects must be well orchestrated and achievable to reach your audience and convey your ideas fluently. These are your peaks. As you move through your valleys, remember to consider your transitions.

Transitions. The most important and sometimes most overlooked elements of your show are the transitions. As you plan your effects, how you get in and out of them is just as, if not more important than, the effect itself. The downfall of any designed program, visually or musically, can be hearing the word “functional” applied to your transitions. The solution is held in motivation, purpose, and direction. Your transitions must provide the audience with a sense of perpetual motion as they ride along in the vehicle you have created.

Strengths. You are your program’s harshest critic and greatest fan. No one knows your ensemble better than you and this knowledge should be used to your advantage. As you opt through the show ideas from season to season, choose and plan the show to harness your program’s strengths. For example, if you just graduated every horse you have in the brass section, don’t choose a big band show for the fall. One misconception that many directors and staff hold on to is the need to hide your weaknesses. In contrast, your approach through planning and programming should simply be not to expose them. Use them as the thread and not the needle.

Contingencies: It is difficult to plan for the unexpected, but here are a few factors to consider.

Photo • As you design and program your show, you will no doubt want it to be a challenging effort for your students. However, take moment to ask yourself if they can truly pull it off.

• Try to identify and prepare for your externalities. A few for example: Parent involvement (How much and how many?). Props (Are they essential … are they worth it?). Equipment (Do you require additional vehicles for transportation? Do you need materials fabricated for the color guard or set design?). Rehearsal Time and Space (Will your concept require more or less of either?).

• Deception and Reception. It is quite easy (and most times comforting) to get lost within your own ingenuity, but do not be deceived. Consider your idea and its reception by the band itself, the student body and “football crowd,” as well as your competitive audience … balance can be found and achieved. Do not blindly assume that your response will be the adopted opinion of others. That having been said, your program does not necessarily have to be “user friendly.” An avant-garde production could be what everyone has been secretly craving.

Remember that one of your greatest allies is time. Once you have chosen your road, give your idea a little time to breathe and grow. Revisiting with fresh awareness and hunger will only provide a catalyst to fuel your Idea Engine again and again.

Bobby Hullett is the Founder and Director of Innovation of Sounding Ground. He is also the author of Ethics Everyday (EthicsEveryday.com). Bobby has earned a Master’s Degree in Education as well as a BBA. His work with renowned educators at all levels of the pageantry arts includes DCI, WGI, BOA, as well as many local associations around the nation. A complete listing of history and experience can be found on his website, SoundingGround.com. Sounding Ground offers visual design and musical arrangements and compositions, in addition to many other services.

Text courtesy of Bobby Hullet. Images licensed through iStockPhoto.

Aspects to consider when attempting to create the perfect flag

THE BAND HALL (www.thebandhall.com) — We have all seen flags that were nothing short of stunning. Likewise, we’ve all seen our share that could only be described as horrendous. A great flag design is one of the easiest ways to please the GE gods. Design it well and it works for you the entire time it is in view.

Photo So what makes a great flag so great? That’s the question we will try to answer here. There are many aspects to consider when attempting to create the perfect flag. They include:

  1. Design
  2. Color
  3. Size of the flag
  4. Type of material
  5. Sewing technique

We will discuss these topics in a not so formal manner, to say the least. We’re just throwing ideas out there for you to ponder. Hope it provides at least a bit of assistance. Here we go!

DESIGN

How about a flag that looks like an entranced artist scrolled at random and allowed the shapes created to voice their choice of color? No? Well, what about panels of gradating size and color? All straight lines. The sewing moms will throw you a party!

The possibilities are truly endless. It seems that each year bears witness to breath-taking, innovative flag designs as well as true new standards of … well, some are just not very pretty. Motivated by the unique creations of their peers, some people just try too hard. A solid rectangular flag, almost devoid of design, continues to be used with great effectiveness. Sometimes it is better to keep things simple.

What is the purpose of your flag designs? If it is solely to help your marching band entertain the masses at football games, then a tried and true design in school colors could be the perfect choice. Maybe you want to create a work of art. Do not hesitate to seek assistance if you feel uncomfortable assuming this responsibility. Some people are excellent equipment writers, top-notch technicians and remarkable managers who need to make a quick phone call to someone born with a paintbrush in hand. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Many times the shape of a flag’s perimeter could be something other than rectangular. A curved flag is often useful, especially for large swing flags or “wings”. When designing a curved flag, it is especially important to sew one first and watch someone spin it. You may want to change your pattern (usually to make it larger) before you waste a lot of material.

Some designers slightly curve the top outside corner of an otherwise rectangular flag in order to stop some of the flapping. This reduces the drag and eliminates a slight distortion of the design.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the design of a flag should be appropriate for the music being played. A flowing ballad may call for a curvilinear design. An angular design would be appropriate for a more excitement-filled number. A programmatic selection might dictate the use of a theme flag.

It is certainly interpretive to change flag designs as the music changes. The various designs used throughout a show should nonetheless work well together. We’ve all recognized that flag that must have been one from last year’s show. It may be smart to use an old flag to save money; just be careful your reason isn’t obvious. One way to unify your flags (as well as the show) is to use the same design but with different colors throughout the show.

If you plan to include a thematically inspired object (a cowboy boot for example) in your flag design, bear in mind that it must look attractive while being spun.

COLOR

Photo Someone once told me that he could judge a flag by looking at the fabric scraps piles on the floor under the sewing machine. That is one way of saying that the most important characteristic of a flag is its color.

It is not a good reason to use a color just because it is a particularly pretty one. Every color can be the perfect choice in certain situations. However, there are a limited number of appropriate color choices in a particular instance.

Don’t make the mistake of using colors because the swatches looked good together on your dining room table. It is almost too obvious, but many times designers forget to consider the colors that are already present on the field — the guard uniforms, the color of the band uniforms, and the color of the props that may be on the field. Often times, just using one color that is already present on the field in a flag design will make that flag feel right at home.

Anyone who might be reading this is certainly aware that there are warm colors, cool colors, vibrant colors, subdued colors, sixties colors, classy colors, dungeon colors, heavenly colors and everything in between. It almost goes without saying that the mood of the music should be reflected in your color choices. The mood depicted by a color is affected by the colors it is used in combination with (contrasting colors create tension) and also by the amount of color used.

Some people certainly have a better eye for color than others. If you know people who have a flair for color, ask them for advice. It is always wise to seek the opinions of a few others regarding the color combinations you are considering. It never hurts to sketch your flag designs using colored pencils or markers. The opinion of a judge is not of as much value after you’ve made a set of flags. Two heads are almost always better than one!

One way that color has been used recently is to give a flag that created-by-an-artist look by using colors that are very similar. Just as a painter mixes his paints, the flag designer can choose a few colors of the same hue. Designing beautiful monochromatic flags is certainly easier when there’s a large selection of colors to choose from.

SIZE OF THE FLAG

Photo One of the worst and most frequently made mistakes is making the flag too small. I say the bigger the better! Just be sure the size doesn’t make spinning the flag awkward.

The longer the pole is, the larger your flag can be. It makes sense that if larger flags are more desirable, so are longer poles. High school groups can easily handle 6′ poles, while younger group may require shorter poles. Advanced groups often use up to 7′ poles for their standard length. A few even use 7.5′, but most high school guards should use from 5.5′ – 6.5′ poles.

Appropriate dimensions (after hemming and excluding the sleeve) for rectangular flags for the following pole lengths are:
5′ – 30″ x 44″
5.5′ – 33″ x 48″
6′ – 35″ x 52″
6.5′ – 38″ x 56″
7′ – 41″ x 60″
7.5′ – 44″ x 64″

If you plan to use a swing flag, make sure it is big enough. A 48″ wooden dowel (3/8 inch diameter) makes a great pole for your swing flag. An appropriate size for a rectangular shaped swing flag (after hemming and excluding the sleeve) is 42″ x 64″.

Planning to pull out all of the stops with an oversized flag that is truly oversized? If this flag is used for a short duration and one does not need to perform spins, tosses and such, then go for it! Any pole length from 6 to 10 feet is fine. Big is beautiful!

The flag sizes recommended above are on the large side. It’s a good idea to always make one flag first to make sure it’s the desired size for your needs.

TYPE OF MATERIAL

Photo To put it simply, polyester china silk is the world’s greatest flag material. Don’t even think about using anything else! Well, that may have been putting it a bit harshly. There are occasions when tissue lame can be used with success (don’t let the repair lady get far away!). And on fewer occasions sparkle organza can be used effectively.

SEWING TECHNIQUES

First of all may I offer a word of encouragement to those of you considering making your own flags for the first time. The savings that can be had are huge. I’m sure you could think of a few ways you could utilize the extra funds. Please realize that a flag is just a flag and not a garment for the Pope. I have never recognized from the bleachers whether an expert tailor spent four hours making a flag or if a novice spent two. What is important is the appropriateness of the colors and designs for your show.

Now for the nuts and bolts. The technique that works best for making your own flags is to first straight stitch the pieces together. Then use a zig-zag stitch over the straight stitch. Lastly, it never hurts to apply a liquid bonding such as Fray Block along all seams. Not many people use a French seam when making their own flags, but it is wonderful if you have someone willing to tackle it. French seams on straight edges are certainly more feasible than on curves. Many people get great results by using a surger.

Regardless of the sewing method used, don’t forget to allow for the seams and hems when cutting your pieces. The amount allowed will vary with each seamstress. Usually a half to one inch is allowed. It is always a great idea to make one complete flag before cutting out all of the pieces. You may want to make changes in your pattern or decide to allow more (or less) for the seams.

To appliqué a piece on a flag, first position the piece properly and zig zag around it. Then cut the back out from the other side, leaving a half inch to be folded back and stitched down using a zig-zag stitch. Lastly apply Fray Block along all seams.

Some people feel it is necessary to line the sleeve while others do not. If the sleeve is all the same color and continues onto the flag, you can do the equivalent of lining the sleeve by doing the following. Allow twice as much material for your sleeve when making your pattern. Before hemming around the perimeter of the entire flag, form a sleeve that is twice as large as it needs to be. Then hem around the perimeter of the entire flag, including closing the ends of the double-sized sleeve. If you use Velcro in your sleeve, attach it now to the double thickness portion. Next form the actual sleeve out of the doubled material.

Separate sleeve pieces should be about 6 inches wide depending on the hem made. Always cut one first and sew it. Check to make sure it slides onto the pole appropriately. If you are new at sewing flags, you may waste a lot of material (not to mention time) if you don’t make one first. Have fun and good luck!

OTHER HELPFUL HINTS

  • Flags which are hand painted or dyed most often times have an unprofessional look. If you’re not a professional-caliber artist, think twice before risking it.
  • White poles are usually the best choice and look nice when using white rifles. If you want more color you can tape them a color from the flag design. Woodgrain contact paper on poles and rifles looks great when thematically appropriate. If you tape your flags to the pole, use tape that matches your pole or sleeve color.
  • Plastic tips on your poles help prevent sails. The material slides off of a plastic tip more easily than a rubber crutch tip.
  • When using bolts to weight your poles, prevent them from moving around and clanking by wrapping them with foam and duct tape.
  • Resist the urge to place such an obvious hand check marker on your poles. They’re UGLY! I’m sorry, didn’t mean to shout. I’ll try again. They’re ugly. Use a tape color similar to the pole color (and cut it in half). Another method is to slide a pony tail holder to the desired location and tape over it in the same color, creating a ridge that can be felt as well as seen. The same holds true for sabers.
  • Use practice flags in practice. Your show flags will thank you at your last (and usually most important) performances.

The flag designs in the photos above were all created by The Band Hall. From top: Boston Crusaders, Spartans, Seminole H.S., Carolina Crown.

The Band Hall (www.thebandhall.com) has a highly-acclaimed design team to help you create the perfect flag, guard costume and band uniform. They also offer band accessories including shoes and the world’s largest color selection of flag fabrics.

Timely Recommendations to Ensure Band Members are Well Prepared for Activity

DALLAS, August 7, 2006 — With the beat of a drum, the blow of a whistle, and the blare of the brass section, marching bands across the country are practicing formations and new musical routines in anticipation of the start of the school year. Recognizing the unique needs of these performers, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) has issued timely guidelines to ensure safety on the field and in the parade line.

Photo “Marching band members, just like athletes, need to be well conditioned and prepared for the rigors of band practices and performances. These unique athletes are often in formations for long periods of time, wearing heavy clothing in warm weather conditions, and carrying instruments that require dexterity and strength,” said Brian Robinson, MS, ATC, chair of NATA’s Secondary School Athletic Trainers’ Committee. “It’s critical for band directors to work closely with school athletic trainers and medical professionals to develop a safety protocol to ensure band members march on the field fit to perform at their best.”

NATA recommends the following tips for parents, band directors, medical professionals and marching band members:

  1. Prepare for Activity: Students participating in marching bands should receive a general health exam prior to activity to make sure they are fit to perform. Be sure to discuss any pre-existing conditions with the physician.
  2. Put a Plan Into Place: Develop a written emergency plan in consultation with an athletic trainer and local emergency medical service. Share it regularly and review it with the appropriate band directors/supervisors, school administrators and medical staff.
  3. Get Ready to March: Band directors, athletic trainers and parents should ensure that students are physically and mentally conditioned for marching band activities. Encourage students to start with 20 minute walks outside and gradually increase distance of time approximately four weeks before the marching band season starts. Limber up with appropriate stretches and warm ups and cool downs after practice. Increase rigorous routines gradually so students can tone their muscles and increase strength. This will help to reduce aches and pains as well as fatigue from long practices and challenging routines.
  4. Acclimatize to the Heat: Acclimatize students to outdoor warm weather conditions. Start routines slowly and build endurance. By working out and walking in the heat or non-air conditioned environments, students can condition their bodies to adapt and better perform in the heat.
  5. What to Wear: Wear light or white colored shorts and t-shirts to avoid overheating during practice. This is especially important for anyone carrying heavy instruments for long periods of time. Save the formal attire — heavy hats, dark clothing and shoes — for dress rehearsals and get comfortable in them before game day. Be aware that the weight of the material and dark colors keep heat “in.”
  6. Photo Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: Establish a hydration plan that allows band members to drink water or sports drinks such as Gatorade throughout practice sessions (about 7-10 ounces every 10-20 minutes). It is important to hydrate before AND after routines. Without proper hydration, they are at risk of developing exertional heat related illnesses. Make sure that band members have sports drinks and water should always be available. Don’t assume they can share with sports teams.
  7. Seek Shade: Be smart when it comes to the sun. Stand in the shade during rest breaks or half time to cool down before and after practices and performances.
  8. Fuel for Success: Incorporate healthy foods in the daily diet including grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat/poultry/fish to give them the fuel they need to exercise. A balanced and moderate approach is always the best bet.
  9. Make Use of Musical Instruments: Students should hold and manage sousaphones, drums, flutes and other instruments correctly to avoid ergonomic injuries.
  10. Stay Fit in Formation: Since bands are often in formation and standing still for long periods of time — especially when on parade routes or during practice — students should move fingers, knees and toes slightly to keep circulation flowing and joints loose and flexible.
  11. Monitor Band Members: Band members should be monitored at all times on the field for signs of heat illnesses by a parent, band director, certified athletic trainer or other individual.
  12. Inspect Fields and Routes: Remove debris, water, rocks and other hazards from the field or parade route. These small obstacles can lead to twisted ankles, bruised knees, scraped elbows or other more serious injuries.
  13. Stock the Kit: Stock a first aid kit and keep it onsite for medical emergencies. Include supplies for wound management and bee stings, such as elastic wraps and band aids, disposable ice packs, tape and wound cleanser, among other items.

“Athletic trainers are always on the frontline should a band member not feel well or need immediate care in the event of injury or illness, said Robinson. “Our goal is to prevent the injury from happening in the first place. By putting these guidelines into practice, band directors and their members can enjoy a season rich in music and highly spirited routines.”

For more information on youth sports and sports safety, please visit http://www.nata.org/youthsports/.

About the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA): Athletic trainers (ATCs) are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research.

 

Oleh : Nimon
Pearl Drum Indonesia Marching Artist Endorser

Pendahuluan
Dewasa ini bentuk aransemen perkusi marching mempunyai berbagai macam variasi. Dari masing-masing variasi tersebut mempunyai kecenderungan berbentuk melodius. Hal ini terjadi akibat dari pengaruh aransemen keseluruhan yang memaksa Bass Drum mempunyai aransemen yang lebih harmoni dan mengalir supaya tidak menghancurkan harmoni keseluruhan.

Pertanyaannya adalah bagaimana mengoptimalkan suara bass drum marching sehingga tercapai harmoni yang diinginkan?

Untuk itu kita harus mempersiapkan segala hal dalam mencapai karakter suara yang diinginkan.

Dalam pembahasan berikut ini saya akan coba memaparkan bagaimana saya tuning bass drum khususnya dalam mempersiapkan Madah Bahana Universitas Indonesia dalam setiap kompetisi.

Alat-alat yang diperlukan :

    • Kunci drum untuk tekanan tinggi, atau yang biasa disebut dengan hi-tension tuning key, ini akan mengurangi kelelahan tangan ketika mengencangkan tekanan drumhead.
    • Busa peredam untuk meredam suara bass drum agar tidak terlalu bergaung. Biasanya berukuran 2”persegi sampai dengan 5”persegi.
    • Drumhead atau kadang-kadang disebut dengan membran. Drumhead yang biasa dipakai untuk bass drum oleh banyak pabrikan drum adalah Remo Smooth White Ambassador.
    • Pelumas bila diperlukan saja. Ini biasanya dipakai untuk melumasi baut-baut yang lama dan keras agar pemasangan lebih gampang. Bisa memakai WD40 atau kalau tidak ada bisa memakai body lotion.

Pemasangan busa
Ada berbagai macam cara untuk memasang busa, itu semua tergantung karakter suara yang diinginkan pelatih. Beberapa cara tersebut ialah :


1. Dipasang di bagian rim (luar). Dengan cara ini semakin besar ukuran bass drum semakin besar pula ukuran persegi busanya, atau bila memakai ukuran busa yang sama semakin banyak permukaan yang menempel ke bass tersebut.

2. Dipasang di bagian shell (dalam). Caranya sama dengan diatas.

3. Dipasang di bagian Drumhead. Dengan cara ini semakin kecil ukuran bass drum semakin dekat busanya dengan tengah drumhead, agar ruang lingkup redamnya semakin kecil pula.
Berikut ini contoh posisi busa yang dipakai pada seksi bass drum Santa Clara Vanguard.


Pada prinsipnya pemasangan busa pada bass drum diserahkan sepenuhnya kepada pembuat lagu dan pelatih. Karena masing-masing mempunyai keinginan karakter suara yang berbeda. Pada Madah Bahana Universitas Indonesia memakai cara yang kedua, pada Carolina Crown memakai cara yang pertama dan pada Santa Clara Vanguard memakai cara yang ketiga. Bahkan ada yang mengkombinasikannya seperti pada Blue Coats. Jadi silahkan anda mencoba semua cara diatas sampai anda mendapatkan karakter suara yang anda inginkan.

Nada Bass Drum
Karena marching bass drum mempunyai ukuran yang berbeda-beda maka akan semakin mudah untuk mendapatkan nada yang benar. Pada dasarnya semua drum tidak mempunyai nada yang seharusnya begini atau seharusnya begitu. Tetapi yang dimiliki adalah nada yang terdekat dari nada seharusnya. Yang terpenting dalam mendapatkan nada bass drum adalah :

  • Sesuaikan nada dasar bass drum pada nada dasar keseluruhan lagu yang akan dimainkan
  • Jarak nada antara masing-masing bass drum.

Dalam tuning bass drum sebaiknya dimulai dari bass drum paling kecil, karena bass drum ini selain membutuhkan paling banyak tenaga untuk mengencangkannya juga mempunyai nada yang lebih pasti. Lalu kemudian ke bass berikutnya mengikuti interval yang ada.

Dalam mengencangkan drumhead sebaiknya dilakukan secara menyilang agar dapat kekuatan yang merata. Dan usahakan untuk menyamakan nada antara head kiri dan head kanan dengan cara mengencangkan sedikit demi sedikit kiri dan kanan. Untuk mendapatkan nada yang lebih akurat coba dengan memukul head tersebut tapi head yang diseberangnya diredam, dan jangan lupa pastikan nada di setiap sisi baut mempunyai tekanan yang sama, caranya pukul pinggiran drumhead sambil sedikit menekan bagian tengah drumhead agar tidak terganggu dari nada-nada yang keluar dari efek getaran yang tidak diperlukan.

Berikut ini adalah beberapa jarak dalam beberapa susunan bass drum.

Jarak untuk susunan 4 (Empat) Bass Drum

Menjaga Tuning
Untuk mendapatkan tuning yang enak dan pas tidak bisa langsung setelah pemasangan drumhead. Drumhead yang baru butuh masa untuk perenggangan bahan drumheadnya. Ketika tuning sudah dapat usahakan agar tetap terjaga nadanya agar hasil getaran drumhead akan maksimal pada tekanan tersebut. Biasanya butuh beberapa hari sampai dapat karakter suara aslinya. Dan masing-masing pemain harus sensitive terhadap nada bass drumnya masing-masing, agar ketika ada perubahan sedikit pada tekanan dan nada bisa langsung dikoreksi.

Penempatan Pemain
Untuk bisa mendapatkan orang yang tempat pada tempat yang tepat, kita harus menelaah ulang pada beberapa faktor, yaitu :
• Karakter masing-masing bass drum

1. Bass drum paling kecil mempunyai tekanan paling kencang sehingga sustain suaranya sangat pendek seperti snare drum dan semakin besar bass drum-nya semakin panjang sustainnya.
2. Semakin besar bass drumnya semakin susah mallet memantul di drumhead, karena tekanan pada bass drum yang lebih besar lebih sedikit.
3. Bass drum paling kecil memerlukan sedikit power karena malletnya kecil juga, dan semakin besar bass drumnya semakin besar tenaga yang dibutuhkan.
4. Semakin besar bass drumnya semakin berat pula beban yang harus diangkat
5. Bass drum paling kecil mempunyai karakter untuk membantu snare drum, jadi sering dipakai untuk variasi rudiment.
6. Bass drum tengah dan paling besar mempunyai karakter berperan besar pada rythim yang kuat dan unison sehingga benar-benar menghasilkan satu pukulan yang pasti dan penuh.
7. Bass drum diantara mempunyai karakter berperan besar dalam not-not singkop dan kemampuan menyambungkan not split/tonal.

• Karakter calon pemain

Calon pemain bass drum, yang pasti harus mempunyai satu kekuatan utama yaitu kuat dalam timing. Namun masing-masing biasanya ada kelemahan di bidang lain ataupun kekuatan seperti :

1. Kuat dalam pukulan-pukulan variasi snare/ penguasaan rudiment yang baik dan mampu bermain cepat dengan volume yang penuh.
2. Orang yang mempunyai timing dan groove yang kuat
3. Orang yang pukulannya bulat dan kuat.
• Aransemen bassdrum


Aransemen bass drum harus diperhatikan apakah banyak berbentuk melodius, rhytmitic atau unison. Ada beberapa aranjer yang menyesuaikan aransemen bass drumnya dengan karakter masing-masing pemainnya. Tapi untuk kompetisi aransemen bass drum tidak menyesuaikan kepada pemain tetapi pemain yang menyesuaikan ke aransemen bass drum agar harmonisasi lagu dapat tercapai. Aransemen tersebut biasanya merupakan gabungan dari semua unsur musik sehingga mencapai hasil yang maksimal.

Jadi bass drum adalah salah satu faktor yang sangat harus diperhatikan dalam perkusi marching. Kemampuannya untuk tonal dan suaranya yang paling gampang didengar karena rendah, menuntut kesempurnaan bunyi dari segala hal. Bass drum seperti fondasi dalam perkusi marching, bila fondasi kuat maka satu seksi akan kuat.

Tulisan ini merupakan salah satu sudut pandang saja, merupakan salah satu pengalaman yang saya punya untuk dibagi kepada yang lain. Beberapa pelatih lain mungkin mempunyai cara yang berbeda. Semoga tulisan ini dapat membantu dan menambah wawasan para Marching Banders Indonesia.

Terima kasih.


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Ditulis Oleh: Kevin Namaky
 

Marching Percussion Tuning Techniques
By Kevin Namaky (Marketing Manager for Pearl Corporation)
Pearl Corp. Nashville, TN

What Is Your Desired Sound? Some General Concepts:

• Cutting/articulate/staccato?
- Tune higher.
- Use larger amounts of muffling (this will decrease volume but shorten the length of note, resulting in a more staccato sound).
• Very resonant? To create a booming sound?
- Use less muffling.
- Tune in the low to mid-range.
• A blend of resonance with articulation? A percussion sonority that bends with the band?
- Obviously this is the middle-ground of the above two extremes.
- Tune in all ranges depending on the instrument, with a focus on the mid-range.
- Tune snares a medium to high pitch, basses a medium to low pitch, and tenors bridging the gap (6” is tuned high while 14” is tuned low with substantial tone).

Basic Tuning For ALL Heads:

  • While the head is off, clean the drum (specifically the bearing edge). Some percussionists like to use a material such as soap on the bearing edge to eliminate any unnecessary friction when tuning the head. This helps keep pitch consistent around the head. Also remember to lubricate tension rods when possible.
  • Place the head on (check the logo if there is one) and place the hoop over the head.
  • Tighten each tension rod as tight as possible only using your fingers (finger-tight). IMPORTANT: Be sure to tighten rods evenly and follow a crossing pattern. This ensures that the head sits evenly side to side. If the head is uneven, you are almost guaranteed many headaches in trying to clear the pitch of the head later on and you will also shorten the life of the head.
  • Using a drum key (possibly a high-tension key), tighten each a few turns and follow the same crossing pattern. Continue this pattern until the head reaches a low to medium range and you can begin to distinguish between the pitches of each rod.
  • Tap lightly near each rod to ascertain its relative pitch. Tighten only those lowest in pitch until the entire head become an even pitch (or very close).
  • If at this point the head is still too low, tighten each rod one or two turns (max) in the crossing pattern until the head is at the desired pitch. At this point you can check again to see if any rods are out of tune with the rest of the head.
  • Remember to proceed slowly once you near your desired pitch, especially on tenor drums. Sometimes one turn of a rod can dramatically alter the overall pitch of a head.
  • Finally, evaluate the length of sound at your desired pitch and use muffling if you want to shorten the sound at all (keep in mind that muffling can also change the pitch).
  • In a drumline, each drum should be tuned the same to create a clear and consistent sound (just like wind players have to play in tune with each other). All snares should be tuned the same with pitches matched from drum to drum. Same for tenors. Basses are the exception, although each side on any one drum should be identical.

Specific Concepts for Each Instrument

  • Snares
    • Heads: Mylar vs. Kevlar (and other synthetics)
      • Sound vs. Maintenance
      • Mylar will produce a warmer and thicker sound. It is more responsive. However, it also requires a lot more maintenance to keep it in tune and can break at high tensions.
      • Kevlar will produce a brighter and drier sound. It is less responsive, however it requires much less maintenance and can attain higher pitch levels.
    • Pitch and Feel: Bottom vs. Top
      • Relative pitch is important in determining the general characteristics and feel of the drum.
      • Tuning the top head lower results in a softer and more comfortable feel. Tuning the top higher results in more rebound but is also harsher on the hands (and the ears depending how high you go).
      • Try tuning the bottom head to a ½ step below the top, even with the top, and a ½ step above the top. Determine which sound you like best and stick with it (my personal preference is to tune the top to a medium tension and take the bottom a ½ step higher than the top).
    • Gut Tuning (see gut tuning article)
      • Do they sound “raspy”? Tune them.
      • Should you use tape? Depends how “wet” or “dry” you want the drum to sound. The more tape, the drier the sound.
    • Muffling
      • If the length of sound is too much.
      • If you can’t seem to get rid of an unwanted overtone (rare).
      • Often a folded up paper towel/toilet paper is used. Remo makes a muffling crown. Evans makes inserts for their heads.
  • Tenors (Trios, Quads, Quints, Sextets, etc)
    • Heads: 1-ply vs. 2-ply (2-ply is most common)
      • Resonance vs. Durability
      • 1-ply is more resonant but less durable.
      • 2-ply is a little drier with sharper attack and is more durable.
      • In general, clear heads resonate more than white or frosted heads.
    • Pitch and Intervals
      • Thirds are most common.
      • Start with the bottom drum and get a good sound. Then tune up from there.
      • An easy reference is to use a D7 chord: M3, m3, m3 as you go up in pitch (drums 4 then 3 then 2 then 1).
      • The 6” is just tuned high. No specific interval for it. Usually used for accents and effects.
    • Muffling
      • In most cases tenors are not muffled.
  • Basses
    • Heads: 1-ply vs. 2-ply
      • 1-ply is more resonant. The drums usually “sing” better with this head.
      • 2-ply is a shorter sound. A little punchier. Better for indoors/domes or when a drier and less-live sound is desired from the bassline.
    • Pitch and Intervals
      • Thirds are most common.
      • 4-drum setup often uses thirds only. Tuning scheme can be same as tenors (D7 chord or similar).
      • 5-drum setup often incorporates a 4th or 5th between the bottom two drums. Starting on drum 4, then tune up as you would with four drums.
    • Muffling
      • Bass foam, hardware store (foam and stripping), built-in systems. There are many options depending if you want to put it on the inside or outside. Different types of foam yield different results.
      • You will usually have to figure out what you like via trial and error. A good starting point is to use foam from a drum or head manufacturer.

Disclaimer:
It should be noted that these are GENERAL concepts. Because opinions differ and there’s often debate as to what type of tuning scheme is best for the outdoor marching ensemble, this is an attempt to cover basic concepts and generally used sounds, regardless of their “correctness”. I feel it is best to let each individual teacher to use his/her own judgment as to their desired sound and to tune accordingly. That being said, I think that most people will find certain sounds to be more acceptable than others. With that in mind…

Ditulis Oleh: Marko S Hermawan
 
Membaca ulasan mengenai “Judges: Why Don’t We Ever Agree With Them” oleh Rob Stein, membuat saya tergelitik untuk ikutan mengulas mengenai tema ini. Tanpa bermaksud mengikuti trend saat sebuah kejuaraan berakhir, dan muncul komentar negatif ke juri, namun lebih kepada bagaimana menyikapi sebuah komentar juri dan bagaimana sebaiknya seorang juri bereaksi saat menilai.Sebagai ilustrasi singkat tentang apa yang Rob Stein jelaskan, dia mencoba membandingkan dari sudut mana seorang pelatih mempersiapkan unitnya dan dari sudut mana pula seorang juri menilai. Kedua sudut pandang mereka bisa dibilang SANGAT berbeda, dalam arti persiapan, interpretasi, dan penilaian individu.Dalam mempersiapkan sebuah kejuaraan, seorang pelatih, beserta Pembina sebuah unit, pastilah membuat rencana yang matang tentang tema lagu, jadwal latihan yang ketat, penempatan pemain yang cocok, dan persiapan lainnya. Waktu yang dibutuhkan oleh mereka tidaklah pendek, bahkan ada yang mempersiapkan selama 1 TAHUN, untuk sebuah kejuaraan berdurasi 12 MENIT. Aneh bukan? Namun inilah ‘kegilaan’ insan marching band, persiapan ini tetap dilakoni, baik oleh pelatih dan pemain. Tidak jarang pengorbanan harus dilakukan demi tercapainya target sebuah paket pagelaran. Jadi, pengukuran sebuah hasil permainan unit marching band, oleh seorang pelatih dan pembina, rata-rata dilihat dari “Timeline” atau waktu yang ditempuh selama latihan, atau bisa saya sebut “Penilaian Horisontal”. Istilah ini akan dipakai sebagai pembanding pada bahasan selanjutnya.

Di sisi lain, terdapat sang “Penilai sesaat”, yaitu seorang juri yang ditunjuk, sesuai dengan keahlian dan pengalaman bermain di sebuah unit berprestasi (saat ini), pada sebuah pertandingan. Di luar kekuasaan saya mengulas seorang juri yang kredibel, saya lebih melihat dari sudut pandang seorang juri yang bertugas menilai hasil output saat beberapa unit bermain, di saat yang sama. Artinya, juri akan melihat dan menilai selama 12 MENIT apa yang disuguhkan sebuah unit, dan mencoba membuat perbandingan dengan unit-unit lainnya. Jadi seorang juri akan membuat suatu “Penilaian Vertikal”.

Nah loh, ada dua pandangan yang berbeda dong? Jelas beda, makanya antara pelatih dan juri terkadang tidak akur. Sering terdapat komentar “Unit saya sudah latihan lama, kok cuman dikasih nilai segini? Apa jurinya ga tau ini teknik susah?” Atau sebaliknya, “Saya sudah menilai dengan obyektif, kok pelatih A masih protes sih? Sana jadi juri biar tau!”. Ini pasti akan berlangsung terus, tanpa ada ujungnya. Lalu bagaimana mengantisipasi-nya?

Rob Stein menulis, seorang juri cenderung menilai unit dari segi kesalahannya aja (jelek itu, wah ga matching warnaya, tuningnya fals, dll), dari pada menilai segi positifnya. Dia menyarankan agar semua komentar juri sebaiknya bersifat positif dan mendidik, karena aktifitas ini adalah merupakan aktifitas pendidikan. Ada guru, ada murid, guru memberi ilmu positif dan murid menerima dengan positif dan belajar dari ilmu tersebut. Saran yang konstruksiflah yang dinanti oleh sebuah unit. Sehingga apabila ada juri yang menilai dengan komentar yang negatif, maka kewajiban seorang pelatihlah untuk menanyakan kepada asosiasi juri (dalam hal ini, sebaiknya di Indonesia juga mengadakan institusi ini), sehingga terdapat komunikasi yang terjalin baik.

Lalu bagaimana dengan penilaian horisontal dan vertikal? Disinilah letak titik permasalahan yang harus disatukan. Salah satu solusinya adalah dengan mengkuantifikasi sebuah pertunjukan marching band kedalam kotak/rubrik penilaian (sesuai dengan yang dijelaskan Rob). Semua pihak, baik juri maupun pelatih akan bertumpu pada kotak ini. Keterangan yang diberikan di kotak cukup mewakili sebuah penilaian obyektif dan menyeluruh. Tinggal bagaimana interpretasi juri dan pelatih.

Mari kita buat contoh:

Box III: The design team is occasionally successful in achieving good repertoire effectiveness, but there are a lot of times when it is not maximized. Interpretations of the visual program generate some interest and occasionally synchronize. Although there is inconsistency, there is a presence of creativity throughout the show. Desain pertunjukan terkadang berhasil dalam membuat sebuah pertunjukan efektif, tapi ada banyak hal yang kurang maksimal. Intepretasi dari visual cukup menarik dan terkadang singkron dengan lagunya. Walaupun terdapat beberapa inkonsistensi dalam pertunjukan, paling tidak ada kreatifitas yang muncul selama bermain.
Box IV Advanced design techniques are apparent throughout the visual program and are usually maximized. Designers understand the concepts of visual effect and frequently implement them when coordinating the design of the program. It is apparent that creative concepts exist, but are not always consistently executed. Teknik desain yang cukup tinggi dihasilkan selama pertunjukan, dan selalu maksimal. Desainer mengerti tentang konsep visual effect dan secara kontinyu mengimplemen- tasikan dengan baik dan berkoordinasi dengan programnya. Kreatifitas sering muncul, namun terkadang eksekusinya kurang konsisten.

Sudut horisontal akan menilai, “Wah, unit saya sepertinya lebih bagus dalam eksekusi, lebih konsisten dan cukup kreatif, kenapa nilai saya di box III yah?”. Komentar ini sedikit memberi sudut pandang horisontal, dimana pelatih melihat progress perkembangan dari latihan ke latihan, dimana peningkatan kemampuan pasti akan terjadi, namun menurut standar si pelatih. Sudut vertikal mengatakan,”Unit ini kurang sekali dalam eksekusi akhir, dan kurang konsisten dalam mempertahankan aura lagunya, dan ada unit lain yang lebih bagus dari ini. Jadi saya akan nilai di box III”. Penilaian vertikal pun terjadi, karena tanpa melihat sebuah progress unit, dia hanya melihat secara singkat apa yang ditampilkan saat itu, dan bagaimana perbandingan dengan unit lain. Sehingga secara pandangan yang berbeda, kedua kotak ini juga diinterpretasikan berbeda pula.

Lalu? Tinggal si Jurilah yang harus mampu menerangkan, mengapa unit anda berada di box III. Apakah dalam komentar di kaset sering menggunakan kata-kata “Kadang-kadang, jarang, kurang konsisten”, ataukah “Sering, konsisten sekali, menarik, efektif!”. Kata-kata ini akan merepresentasikan kotak dimana unit anda berada. Bagi sudut horisontal juga jangan terlalu emosi untuk mementingkan pandangannya. Mereka juga harus mengerti bahwa selain kotak/rubrik tersebut, juri akan melihat dari sisi vertikal, dimana pembandingnya adalah unit lain yang bertanding.

Bagi saya, apabila ditunjuk sebagai pelatih, saya akan mencoba mengerti apa yang diharapkan oleh juri. Sebuah permainan yang menarik, mungkin, namun semua unit pasti ingin menampilkan permainan yang menarik, sehingga pembandingnya akan cukup ketat. Jadi sebuah konsep yang kuat, serta eksekusi yang konsisten, yang saya tekankan pada unit saya, sehingga membuat unit ini lebih dari pesaingnya.

Dan apabila saya ditunjuk jadi juri, maka selain menilai secara obyektif dan komparatif, saya harus mengerti betul bahwa konsep yang kuat serta eksekusi yang konsisten membutuhkan latihan yang lama dan kerja yang keras. Sebuah nilai tambah yang harus saya pertimbangkan. Dan saya akan mengomentari bagaimana sebaiknya unit tersebut memperbaiki kesalahannya, untuk evaluasi di masa yang akan datang.

Sebuah ulasan singkat dari apa yang ditulis oleh Rob Stein, serta pandangan pribadi tentang bagaimana mengantisipasi perbedaan ini. Sekali lagi, ini bukan menjelekkan pihak-pihak tertentu dalam aktifitas marching band, namun lebih kepada wacana positif, agar kelak tidak terjadi lagi komentar negatif dan tidak berguna antar kedua ‘kubu’ ini. Dan yang terpenting dari semuanya ini, seperti Rob katakan, “I believe is the objective of this activity: to give your students the best experience and education you can, and not to worry about things you have no control over.” – silakan terjemahkan sendiri. Jadi, yang akur-akur sajalah !!

Marbo


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Ditulis Oleh: Rob Stein
 
This article is geared towards directors and staff members, as we shed some light on why we often find ourselves disagreeing with our judging panels. Throughout this article, we explore various common disagreements between staff and judges, and the root from which these problems are manifested. The purpose of the article is to aid directors and staff members in understanding the judging process, as well as the scores that are received. Please keep in mind the thoughts and opinions written in this article are solely my own, and do not represent any specific judging organization or group.
Judges: Why Don’t We Ever Agree With ThemAs competition season begins, we approach the standard competition rituals; getting off the bus in a crowded, loud parking lot, attempting to tune in cold weather, watching our students perform their hearts out, and then…judges critique. This final event of the evening can be stressful, for both staff members and judges alike. This article is meant to shed some light on judging, scoring, and why often times the staff may not agree with the numbers and comments they are given. Please note that all ideas and thoughts expressed in this article are mine alone and do not represent any specific judging organization or group.

First, let’s discuss the main reason for the usual tension: what you may see as a director or staff member, compared to what a judge may see. When considering this aspect, it is important to remember that, as a judge, the job is to be as objective as possible. Most of the time, especially in marching band, a judge will see you once and once only, with a possible exception of championships. A judge usually does not know where you are coming from, the improvements your program has made, etc. As educators, it is our inclination to always look for the positive at performances. When you think about it, it is somewhat amusing; at rehearsals, we look always try to find mistakes; always looking for things to clean. At performances, we always look for the good and don’t focus nearly as much on errors we may see. A judge, as previously stated, is viewing your band for the first time, and sees everything for what it is. So, while both the director and judge view the same show, the perspectives can be (and usually are) different.

Second, let’s consider some more responsibilities of judges to better understand what a judge goes through on a show day. On a long day, a judge can view many, many bands. On a championships day, it can be an all day affair of anywhere between 20-40 bands! Let’s break it down to a single group or category; meaning you are at a regular show and there are ten bands there, all in the same classification. While judges must be objective, they must also be cautious. If your band is on 3rd in the order of bands, there are still 7 more to go, and judges only have two bands to compare against. If they set your number too high, and there are 7 bands left to go, there could be some huge issues at the end of the night for everyone. This aspect of numbers management is extremely difficult for a judge to do, and takes some solid experience.

Now, let’s name some common disagreements; there is the most common ‘the score is too low.’ Others may include we don’t agree with the comments on the sheets, or maybe we don’t agree with the spread between our band and the band closest to us in the scores. I think it is at this time we must refer to the most important factor of scoring – the rubric on the back of the sheet. Here is an example of a visual effect sheet:

Effectiveness

Box I Overall design of visual repertoire is hard to understand and evaluate. There is a noticeable interpretation problem caused by a lack of program coordination. Repertoire lacks creativity. Design elements such as staging, impact points, and climaxes are non-existent.
Box II Designers exhibit some knowledge of good effect by understanding the basics of repertoire effectiveness. However, there are frequent inconsistencies throughout the program. Repertoire displays the beginnings of creativity. Program coordination, if any, generates few impact points and climaxes.
Box III The design team is occasionally successful in achieving good repertoire effectiveness, but there are a lot of times when it is not maximized. Interpretations of the visual program generate some interest and occasionally synchronize. Although there is inconsistency, there is a presence of creativity throughout the show.
Box IV Advanced design techniques are apparent throughout the visual program and are usually maximized. Designers understand the concepts of visual effect and frequently implement them when coordinating the design of the program. It is apparent that creative concepts exist, but are not always consistently executed.
Box V Repertoire design consistently incorporates ideas to maximize effort. The design team has a superior understanding of program coordination with the ability to consistently captivate an audience with fascinating visual performances. Effect is always pushed to the extremes with varying degrees of finesse, impact, and climax.

(Sub-Caption)

Effectiveness

Box I An apparent lack of confidence exists among performers. Inadequate training is obvious as performers do not attempt to create any type of emotion or intensity. Audience interest is not present as visual impact points are absent.
Box II Performers display some confidence through below average training and understanding of performance communication. There are inconsistencies in the concept of role within the program. There are few times that performers express emotion, mood, and intensity.
Box III Training is obvious as an occasional attempt to communicate emotion, mood, and intensity. Performers understand their role within the program but are seldom sure how to express it. The program includes periods of intensity, emotion, and mood that keep the audience’s interest for the most part. However, these performance qualities are rarely maximized. Performers exhibit an average level of confidence.
Box IV Performers are well training and understand their role within the program. They frequently communicate emotion, mood, and intensity. The program is often entertaining, fascinating, and interesting to the audience – but hindered by breakdowns. Performers display above-average confidence and frequently maximize performance qualities.
Box V Performers display an advanced level of training and understanding of their role within the visual program. They consistently communicate emotion, mood, and intensity throughout the performance, creating a fascinating and interesting program. The performers excel at entertaining the audience by maximizing all performance qualities. A superior level of confidence and professionalism is evident.

(Total Score)

Each sheet should have a rubric on the back of it explaining the qualifications for each score category. Many circuits use the “box” system, where each score category is broken down into a different box. For example, from an 80-89 may be a box 4, etc. The main difference between the lower and higher boxes is usually consistency. For lower boxes, you may see words like sometimes, or infrequently. As the boxes get higher, you will see words like usually, always, or consistently. Rather than concentrate on the number itself, I believe it is more important to concentrate on what the number represents. For example, your band receives a “box 3” score in musicianship. You refer to the rubric and see that the description of a box 3 score does not fit your band. Box 3 says you sometimes play in tune, and you think you consistently play in tune; I believe that would be a valid argument.

In regards to scoring, it is also important to remember that different marching band circuits hold various aspects of the performance higher in correspondence with your score. For example, in one specific circuit I participate in, 60% of the score is musically oriented, and 40% is visual. In another circuit, it’s switched. So, in circuit A, a band that plays really well and marches at a mediocre level will come on top over a band that marches really well and plays at a mediocre level. When planning your show, it is important to know how important each aspect of your show is competitively.

I have also found in my experience that sometimes it seems like judges concentrate more on finding mistakes than looking for positive aspects as well to commentate on. Sometimes I’ll receive what I refer to as a “tick tape,” or a tape that is more of a play-by-play of the show, calling out mistakes, and not really recognizing any positive things throughout the show. I believe that sometimes, some judges lose sight of the fact that this is an educational activity for students and educators alike. I believe that I, as an educator, should be able to play every single tape I get for my students and they should be able to learn from it. If something this serious happens where you get sheets or a tape similar to the above description, it is your responsibility to contact your specific judging association and see what their process is for that situation. Please remember this is not to say that this happens frequently, or all judges do it, but simply to recognize it does occur and what your course of action should be if it does.

So, to recap, there are many reasons why we, as educators, may not agree with a judges’ evaluation of our program or performance. Some of them can include a disagreement in numbers, comments, or that they were too negative and did not attempt to view positive aspects of your show. Again, I believe that almost all disagreements stem from the fact that a judge is usually viewing your program from the first time, and sees it from a completely different perspective than you do. Something extremely difficult in your show that may have taken you two months to clean and was finally clean for the first time all season, to a judge, is just clean and he/she did not see the hard work you put into cleaning that specific section; hopefully, however, he/she will recognize the difficulty of the repertoire in that respect. Or, perhaps something you may perceive to have been a small problem in your band’s performance may have been viewed as a more significant problem by your judging panel.

This of course can stem the question, “Well how important are scores anyway?” In my article, “Competition: How Important Is It?” I state my opinion on that subject. Overall, my opinion is that while this activity has many competitive aspects, I believe some of its main purposes are to allow our students to enjoy the thrill of performance, make friends, learn life lessons, and hopefully make some great memories. To let the opinion of 7 or 8 people who have the extremely difficult task of judging numerous groups in one night make or break your season would be losing sight of what I believe is the objective of this activity: to give your students the best experience and education you can, and not to worry about things you have no control over.

Publisher’s Note:
Rob Stein is a co-founder of Standing ‘O’ – Marching Arts Specialists. Rob is a graduate of The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, holding both a Master’s degree in music education, and a Bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance. As a music educator in both the private and public setting, his experience includes extensive work with drum corps, marching bands, jazz bands, wind ensembles, pit orchestras and private lesson studios.

Rob started his drum corps career marching with the Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps for 6 years, spending 4 in the horn-line, and 2 as drum major. Rob finished aging out with 2 years as a member of the Concord Blue Devils playing upper lead trumpet. Rob is a judge for both USSBA and Cavalcade of Bands circuits, and is also a member of the brass staff for the Bushwackers Drum and Bugle Corps. Currently, Rob teaches elementary instrumental music in the East Windsor Regional School District in East Windsor, NJ, and is a member of the adjunct faculty of the School of Music at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, teaching marching band education.

Ditulis Oleh: Jeff Young
 
It is October. The end of the season is near. The entire field show is on the field. You have had three or four competitions and some football game performances under your belt. You have a general idea how you stack up musically and visually against your competitors. But nothing is set in stone and each new performance brings with it the opportunity to show a new set of judges and fans just how close you can come to your potential.Remember, judges are taught in training not to look at scores from previous weeks and to judge each show in-and-of itself as a new performance. I can’t tell you how many times I have watched or judged a band or drum corps show that is measurably better than it was just one week before. Next week, I leave to judge Colorado State Finals and I have no idea who is “good” this year, nor have I looked at any re-caps of previous Invitationals or State Qualifiers. I want to walk in there with a clear mind and let the shows come to me. Having said all of that, what can you do as a performer to make your show look better in one week?

One: Know Your Dots! If you are still coming to practice with an unorganized wad of coordinate sheets or drill charts, you have not done your homework. As a director, I always wish that I could assign homework grades to marching band students just like I do in my science classroom. Hopefully, you would never go to Biology class without finishing the nightly homework assignment… so why would you come to marching band without your drill book being spotless and up-to-date? Make sure each page of your drill book has the basic information like side-to-side and front-to-back coordinates and how many counts the set is. Beyond that, you should by now understand what counts you pass yard lines during the drill set, what foot you start with, what horn moves you have, and any landmarks to watch out for on the move. Who do you guide to? Who do you dress to? What count does the horn come up or go down? Write these things down and it will help you to remember it when you are in the drill set. In addition, it never hurts to write down in your own words the counts and body positions of any movement or “body” that you have during that section of drill. Put it all in one small notebook and hand it from your neck for easy access. Many people paste copies of the music in these books as well, but this is something that is more helpful the first month of the season and not as helpful now. You should know where the music fits with your feet by now. Have you seen Chris Previc’s guide to dot books? Oh, and one last thing… now that you know where your dots are… GET ON THEM!

Two: Review Your Fundamentals! (Especially direction changes) In order to look as refined as possible (see Dynamic Marching Article, “Define, Then Refine”) you must excel at performing the beginnings and ends of sets. Do you use straight leg “prep steps”? (Think Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps style) Do you use “roll-throughs” or “touch and go’s”? Do you shift your feet with aggression at the beginnings of sets? Do you have “knee pops”? (Think Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps style) Whatever style you were taught that you should transition between sets with is the style you should be using in the drill. Many groups have individuals who do this well and others who go through the motions and just get through the show any way they can. The more marchers that use the style that was explained in the summer the more the band has a coherent and readable style from up in the box or especially to judges on the field.

Three: Get Your Feet in Time! (or your flag work, or your rifle work, or your body movement, etc.) Need I say more?

Four: Enjoy The Season! Don’t get caught up in competition, scores, judges, critics, lazy band members, section in-fighting, silliness, etc. Just do you job, “flush your own toilet”, and enjoy being a part of an activity that is so special to so many students around the world and teaches you important life lessons. After Carmel High School won Grand Nationals in 2005, our staff and students enjoyed our moment briefly, thought about how hard we worked and how lucky we were that our students performed up to our potential and then we immediately started working on having a great concert band and jazz band year and started planning our next marching season. A former principal of mine once said, “Trophies should be made of bananas. They look great for a few days, but then after that time period you would not want to keep them around.” In other words, enjoy your successes (even small ones), celebrate them, learn from them, and then move on to your next big thing.

Good Luck The Rest of Your Season.

Publisher’s Note:
Dynamic Marching is the latest in our series of columns written by leading educators – providing expert information on the marching band activity. Jeff Young is a respected educator, clinician, adjudicator, and consultant – specializing in the art of marching and movement. Jeff Young teaches science at Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana, has a degree in Biology from the University of Notre Dame, and a Masters degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Indiana University. Jeff is the visual caption head for the 2005 BOA Grand National Champion Carmel Marching Band. He is also honored to work with the Colorado State Champion-Pomona High School from Arvada, Colorado. Jeff is a visual caption judge for Drum Corps International and enjoys being a judge, designer, and instructor for marching band programs across the country. He has also been the visual instructor and drill arranger for the Bands of America Summer Band Symposium Marching Band for the past four years. Jeff is also the co-founder of Dynamic Marching and Movement.

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