Marching Band

  • On the Road: Destination Cuba

    SBO Staff | December 9, 2014

    In the Plaza de Armas in Old Havana, Cuba, student musicians perspired in the tropical humidity combined with the heat of performance. 120 members of the band, which consists of three concert bands and two jazz ensembles, along with twenty parents and teachers, departed for Havana via Miami on April 10th, 2014 and returned on April 16th. What we saw, heard, and learned on our trip gave us a remarkable perspective on a corner of the world that is controversially regarded by the international community.On our first full day in Havana, we visited an elementary/middle school designed for students who want to pursue music. Applicants to the school go through a rigorous musical aptitude audition process. The students take music classes for half the day and academic classes for half the day, heavily focusing on music beginning at a very young age.

  • UpClose: Julie Bounds

    Mike Lawson | November 23, 2014

    Building A Band Worth Being A Part Of 

    Things are moving in the right direction for the Santa Teresa High School Band in San Jose, California. Under the guidance of director Julie Bounds, the opportunities for music students have expanded dramatically over the past decade, with the program doubling in membership and, in turn, new ensembles being formed to accommodate the influx of students. Santa Teresa’s current offerings include three concert bands, a competitive marching band, and three jazz bands, as well as percussion, guitar, ukulele, and other chamber-style groups. In addition, the band’s budget has gradually expanded from around $4,000 per year to over $100,000. Several years ago, Bounds started a blog titled “The Thrifty Band Director,” and she insists that the recent growth in capital hasn’t altered her fastidious efforts to maximize the return on every dollar spent, whether replacing instruments, purchasing new uniforms, or taking her band on the road. In this recent interview, Julie Bounds discusses the strategies she used to build a comprehensive program that her students feel is worth being a part of. 

  • UpClose: George Hattendorf

    Mike Lawson | October 18, 2014

    Concert bands and chamber groups drive Mountain Ridge High School’s comprehensive band program


    If the performance opportunities offered to students are an indicator of a school music program’s vitality, George Hattendorf’s Mountain Ridge High School band program in Glendale, Arizona is positively thriving. Over the past decade, Hattendorf has overseen the development of an array of extracurricular, chamber-style ensembles that augment the Mountain Ridge concert and marching bands in what he describes as a “win-win” situation. “The kids are able to utilize a number of their skill sets from their concert band experience in the small groups,” he reasons, “and they’re also able to take skills that they learn in the chamber aspect and bring it back to the larger group.”


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    Zildjian Launches “My Pit’s the Pits” HS Marching Band Video Contest

    Mike Lawson | September 10, 2014

    Four High Schools Can Win Over $25K in Prizes

    In an effort to help out a few deserving high school marching band programs, Zildjian has teamed up with Calderwood Percussion, Remo, Vic Firth, Steve Weiss Music, Lone Star Percussion, Music & Arts Centers and Woodwind & Brasswind to launch the "My Pit's the Pits!" video contest. Music programs across the United States are being given a chance to win over $25,000 in amazing prizes from some of the top names in percussion equipment.

    Students in high school band programs and percussion ensembles from across the country are being asked to rally their percussion pals to create a brief, entertaining video detailing who they are, why they need new percussion equipment, and what they’re going to do with it, should they win.

  • Perspective: A Haven for All

    Mike Lawson | August 14, 2014

    Once again, a high-profile marching band is in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

    Last fall, millions of people across the country were transfixed by The Ohio State University’s Marching Band. The Best Damn Band in the Land, as they call themselves, had a fantastic season, assembling outstanding show after outstanding show. YouTube videos of the group’s performances received tens of millions of hits, and the university band earned countless kudos and accolades for their creative, precise, and wildly entertaining halftime routines. On the heels of this eye-catching season, it came as quite a surprise to many when incoming president of the university, Dr. Michael Drake, announced on July 24 that he was firing Jonathan Waters, director of The Ohio State University Marching Band.

  • UpClose: Stanford University Marching Band

    Mike Lawson | August 14, 2014

    "Spreading the Love and Rocking Out"

    While the term “college marching band” instantly conjures up the image of a uniformed, synchronized unit moving with military-like precision, the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band defies that convention. Driven by a fun-loving, hard-working rock and roll ethos, the famous “scatter band” may don their school’s cardinal red and white colors (along with some black), but their attire can also vary from sport coats and pants to pajamas to casual beach attire. Their mixture of new and classic popular music, spiritedly performed whether they are at a stadium game or part of a street corner flash mob, is enhanced by members scrambling into formation and dancing or hopping to the beat. And the beat rolls ever on – they play approximately 200 rallies per year.

    The roots of the Stanford Band’s irreverence, which has included controversially humorous performance stunts over the years, can be traced back to the mid-’60s when beloved director

  • Drillmasters Rolled-Heel Marching Shoe

    Mike Lawson | July 21, 2014The Rolled-Heel’s technology, recently awarded patent protection, is designed to help student marching foot technique become automatic. The Rolled-Heel’s design is built to “groove” students’ step into proper technique. That benefit is indispensable to the consistent success of a marching program, while also offering flexibility and light weight for unrestricted movement and foot articulation.   […] Read More...
  • UpClose: Joni Perez

    Mike Lawson | June 18, 2014

    Inside the methods that fueled The Woodlands High School's run to the BOA Grand National Championship

    “A group can win a contest or be second or tenth or maybe not even make finals,” says Joni Perez, director of The Woodlands High School (TWHS) band program. “At the heart of it, though, the kids need to be learning what it means to be a good person through the process, along the road that leads to success.” Perez has seen an awful lot of success since taking over the head director position in the suburb just north of Houston in 2010. Since then, she’s brought concert groups to the Midwest Clinic, seen her department awarded the Sudler Shield for marching excellence, had one of her wind bands named the National Wind Bands Honor Project winner, and her marching band is the reigning Bands of America Grand National Champion, having outscored the likes of Carmel (Ind.) High School, Avon (Ind.) High School, and Marcus (Texas) High School in Indianapolis in November of 2013.

  • UpClose: Bill Allred

    Mike Lawson | May 19, 2014

    A Small-Town Band with Big-Time Ambitions

    New Mexico is the fifth largest state in the U.S. in terms of area, but has large swaths with very low population density. Near the state’s eastern border with Texas, Clovis is its seventh most populous city, with nearly 40,000 people, three junior high schools, and a single high school. For Bill Allred, director of the Clovis High School band department, these factors present some relatively unique challenges to his efforts to build and maintain a comprehensive program that can be competitive on the national stage. That’s not to say the situation is entirely bleak. On the contrary, Clovis High School has a history of excellence in its music department, evidenced by the fact that Allred is only the third director of bands at Clovis High School in the past half century. Among the program’s more recent achievements, the CHS Wildcat Marching Band has earned the title of state champion four out of the last five years, while also performing and competing with great success in festivals and competitions throughout the Southwest.

  • UpClose: Tony Cox

    Mike Lawson | November 19, 2013

    Tony Cox and the Mt. Juliet Band of Gold

    Just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, Mt. Juliet is home to a band program with big ambitions. Under the guidance of longtime band director Tony Cox, the Mt. Juliet Band of Gold drumline has been a WGI World Class Finalist for three years running, complementing a marching band and color guard that have also tasted success on the national stage. “When you go into that arena and find success, it validates a little bit of what you’re doing across the board,” says Cox.

    However, such accomplishments don’t come easy. Cox credits his administration with laying down expectations for excellence and achievement in all scholastic areas. On top of that, he points to the firm commitment and dedication it takes from students, staff, and band parents to fit in with the best, most dedicated groups from around the country.

    In this recent conversation with SBO, Tony Cox speaks about preparing music students for the national stage, maximizing parental support, and equipping the next generation of music performers and educators.


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    Creative Conducting: 15 Conducting Tips for Inspired Musicianship

    Mike Lawson | March 1, 2010

    As a conductor, you have one of the most creative jobs in the world you sculpt sound with your hands! You evoke, shape, and inspire sound with your conducting. Have you ever asked a snare drummer to keep time for your ensemble? Many conductors are the visual equivalent of our snare drummer. If you were given the task of inventing conducting, would you pound the air on every beat regardless of the musical impetus? Or, rather, would you craft a set of gestures that indicates all aspects of the music, not just the meter. If you choose the latter, imagine your conducting as the artistic catalyst to inspired music making.

    Tip #1 - Conduct the music, not the pattern. Conduct only that which is in the music no more and no less. There is much more to music than the delineation of the meter. Time-beating usually results in over-conducting. Even lovely gestures, if not called for in the music, should not be present in the conducting. Look for techniques, clinics, or instructional materials to help you get out of the pattern box. Applying the language of Rudolf Laban may be helpful.

    Tip #2 - Conduct the music, not the musicians. Allow each musician to assume responsibility for maintaining pulse, subdividing, entrances, and releases. You initiate and define the time, cue entrances and releases, but you do not function as a traffic cop directing a chaotic intersection.


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    January, 2009

    Mike Lawson | January 19, 2009

    New Drumsticks and Mallets from Vic Firth
    The American Classic 5A and 5B drumsticks are available in a new look. The specially formulated black finish was designed for a comfortable grip. The tips feature a clear finish to keep heads and cymbals clean. Crafted from select hickory for a pronounced sound and long lasting durability, they are guaranteed straight, weight matched and tone paired.

    The Corpmaster Groove Series is a new line of sticks and mallets designed specifically for the musical style reflected by the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) marching band activity. Developed with some of the top HBCU bands in the United States, including Bethune-Cookman University, Florida A&M University, Norfolk State University, Prairie View A&M University, and Tennessee State University, this series features sticks and mallets for marching snare, single tenor, Scotch bass and large tonal bass.

    Johnny Lee Lane Signature Groove Stick is a snare stick with a large shaft and a medium long taper. The tip is designed with an increased surface area for sound quality.

    The Tenor Groove mallet is made with a

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