Rehearsing the Marching Band

Jon Bubbett • August 2023Bubbett's Bookshelf • August 20, 2023

Imagine having the chance to sit down with and pick the brains of thirteen of the most influential people in marching arts. Now imagine doing this during the late spring or early summer. How much would that influence you and your teaching the following fall and in the years to come? Thanks to author Stephen Meyer, you can do that and never leave your home! His book Rehearsing the Marching Band affords you that very opportunity. He has interviewed thirteen top marching arts directors, designers, and choreographers and has compiled those interviews into one very affordable and user-friendly resource.

The appendix alone is priceless! It covers topics like elements of design, principles of design, properties of color, a guide to color guard costumes, a drill writing questionnaire, body warm-up, ballet terminology, an introduction to marching fundamentals, an introduction to flag fundamentals, marching band vocabulary, and even quick solutions for using Pyware. The appendix is a great resource to round out your knowledge of the marching arts or to fill in the gaps if you have been at this awhile.

Most of us involved with a marching program are well-experienced in one or two aspects of this multifaceted activity. This book helps you learn about many elements core to being a well-rounded educator.

“Many directors, including myself, often find themselves in teaching situations that require an in-depth knowledge of the marching band, percussion, and color guard, that a degree in music education does not provide. It is up to the director to pursue professional development opportunities, hire experienced clinicians, and attend summer workshops and summer symposia to understand the intricacies of the activity. More importantly, years of mistakes and feedback from adjudicators, at the expense of the student’s experience, are seemingly the only available path to success in the activity.” – Stephen Meyer.

Here is an opportunity to learn from thirteen of the leading experts in the activity! Each chapter contains the contributor’s background, thoughts on marching band show design, approach to visual fundamentals, visual ensemble, choreography, costume design, general effect, and some final words of wisdom. The contributors include:

Scott Chandler – “Play the long game.”

Michael J. Cesario – “You do not need money; you need imagination.” 

Marie Grana Czapinski – “The activity has progressed, but the principles of design have remained the same.” 

Lee Carlson – “Let them learn how to learn.” 

Jeff Young – “Do not skip steps.” 

John Howell – “Design for the students you have, not the students you wish you had.” 

Adam Sage – “It is not about me, my art, or my ideas. It is about the students and teaching them the importance and relevance of the activity.” 

Kevin Nix – “It is a gradual process that takes years of reflection.” 

Jackie Gilley – “Make the activity worth the time.”

Darrin Davis – “Surround yourself with people more talented than you.” 

Andrea Brown – “More is not always more.” 

Joni Perez – “Find the moments to humanize.”

Jarrett Lipman – “Solve the puzzle of your situation and find the unique solution.” 

Stephen Meyer – “Ride the rollercoaster, not the train.” 


Each contributor offers what their background and experiences in the activity have been. These experiences range from high school to college, drum corps, and today—decades of knowledge at your fingertips.

Marching Band Show Design

There are many outstanding thoughts and ideas on how to design shows from several of the contributors—ranging from the creative process to how to work with a roomful of designers. This section is one of the most insightful and helpful in the book.

Visual Fundamentals

This caption deals with ideas and approaches to how our students physically move to the music. The contributors offer many suggestions on warm-ups, stretches, posture, and body/instrument carriage. Much emphasis has been placed on this area in the past several years, making this section even more valuable to marching band directors today.

Visual Ensemble

Contributors offered their thoughts on the drill design process and their philosophy. Including their methods of running rehearsals, how to teach students how to read drill charts, and how to teach the drill and choreography most efficiently. Many excellent thoughts on how to teach drill and achieve and maintain a positive rehearsal atmosphere and culture.

General Effect

This is a seemingly elusive topic at times. Many great insightful comments and thoughts on what General Effect is and how to achieve it in your marching performances.

Words of Wisdom

In many ways, these may be the most valuable sections in the book. Pearls of wisdom from people with literally decades of experience ranging from work-life balance to relationship building, being a life-long learner, and more!

Rehearsing the Marching Band
Elements of Design, Instruction, Movement, and Performance
By Stephen Meyer
2021     Meredith Music Publications
171pp     $19.95

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