Tips for Student Leader

Chris Dillon

Some guard programs rely solely on their student leadership to create, choreograph, and clean routines. I can only imagine how daunting it must be to wear so many hats. Consequently, this article is for you.

For Band Competitions

Ask your band director for a copy of the color guard adjudication sheets for whatever circuit you compete in. Study these sheets and know where the most points exist. Target your choreography toward those areas.

Maximize your efforts on facets of the performance that you control. For example: You have no control over the musical selections or the dynamics in which the band plays. You do, however, have complete control over how you emulate mood, aesthetics, and dynamics of the music through your choreography.

For Winter Guard

Once again, get the score sheets from the circuits and study them.

Choose music well. Don’t do what everyone else is doing because it leads to quick comparisons. Keep your songs to the minimum length for your classification; the longer the song, the more physically taxing. Also, a longer length will give the judges more time to find weaknesses. Last, it is harder to hold an audience when the show length is at a maximum.

General Ideas

Be organized and plan ahead. Know what counts you will be teaching for each rehearsal and stick to your lesson plan. Consider variety in choreography such as layering, ensemble statements, question/answer moments, solo/small group efforts, and bodywork.

Do not become married to a routine. View it as objectively as a judge and be willing to make adjustments when things don’t work out as planned. Take video of your choreography in action as another tool to determine if changes need to be made. Always look for ways that you can improve your product. The routine should look noticeably different by the end of the season because that is how art is created.

About author

Chris Dillon

Chris Dillon has been involved in marching arts activity since 1981 as a performer, instructor, designer and adjudicator.  Currently, she is an adjudicator for Drum Corps International, WGI Sports of the Arts, Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association, Winter Guard Association of Southern California (WGASC), Florida Federation of Colorguards Circuit, Indiana High School Color Guard Association, Texas Color Guard Circuit, and several others. She held the position of education coordinator for the WGASC for the past eight years.

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