Inside DCI March 4 – A New Celebration for Marching Music

Mike Lawson • Percussion • March 20, 2017

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March is the month that comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It’s famous for the beginning of spring, the Ides of March, St. Patrick’s Day, spring breaks, and the NCAA’s March Madness. Now the March calendar has a new designation.

Beginning with 2017, March 4 is National Marching Music Day – a day to MARCH FORTH! In fact, the entire month of March is a perfect time to celebrate both the history of marching bands every­where and the future of this evolving activity.

From Then to Now

What started out as solely a military function throughout history has now transformed into a versatile musical platform with a place of prominence among the performing arts. From the simple 8­to­5 marching style to the innovative free form drill designs of the most elite ensembles today, marching performance has given music that once could only be heard in concert halls a new performance vehicle to reach audiences of tens of thousands at a time.

Although many bands had their beginnings to support community and scholastic sporting events, the performance and competitive marching band world has grown considerably over the past four­-plus decades. Marching music now provides a medium of expression for hundreds of thousands of participants every year in numerous types of programs.

Whether it’s a Friday night high school football game, a Saturday college game, a color guard show, an indoor drum-line competition, a SoundSport team show, a specialty or novelty ensemble exhibition, or a Drum Corps International tour event, marching programs reflect different performance and programming styles and allow participants the opportunity to improve their personal skills while achieving group excellence. More and more young people are becoming involved in multiple ways to take their individual musical proficiency and showmanship to greater heights.

Geeks No More

In addition to offering many different avenues to improve musicianship, marching is also taking the term “band geek” and throwing it out the window. As ensembles rehearse and perform physically demanding programs, marching musicians are becoming some of the most fit athletes among performing artists — even rivaling the physical demands on the most elite collegiate and professional sports players.

Many school systems recognize this athletic component to marching by awarding physical education credit to marching band classes. Drum corps performers train extensively for tour season and improve physical condition every day to meet the demands of their shows. What’s more, sports medicine extends increasingly to the marching performance arts – proving that marching is definitely not for the faint of heart!

March Forth

So even though traditional marching band activities are not in full swing during the spring, make 2017 the year that we all use National Marching Music Day and the month of March to raise awareness of all things marching. Let your communities know the benefits that your marching programs bring students, families, fans, and the public. Take the time to celebrate your marching programs and the successes they bring.

March on – to whatever beat in whatever ensemble in whatever venue. Marching music is on the rise at home and across the country!

Barbara Nash is president of Barbara Nash & Associates LLC and supports Drum Corps International through fully integrated strategic communications and market engagement services. She has a broad background in music and performance, and has two sons who each marched with DCI.

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