From Marching to Concert

Mary Karen Clardy
Flutists face specific challenges balancing marching band with concert band as the style and approach are completely different. Here are some tips for moving from one to the other.


Marching band requires quick breaths to stay in formation, execute complicated drill, and maintain body balance when moving quickly on the field. Concert band style benefits from full, deep breaths to support tone, connect phrases with direction, and develop the breath control needed for long phrases.

Warmups on the marching field reinforce habits needed for ensemble precision and projection outdoors. When a flutist moves to concert season, remember that breathing is an individual responsibility. Begin every practice session with breathing exercises before playing long tones and scales to develop deep, relaxed breathing habits.

Body Usage

Precision drill requires rigid body alignment, core tension, and quick execution of movements to create a uniform group appearance on the marching field. Maintaining the same rigid approach to posture and body usage in a concert setting causes problems, including intonation issues, slow technique, hand and body tension in long rehearsals, and immature phrasing.

One of the most helpful ways of developing body awareness is practicing with a full-length mirror to check for tension such as raised shoulders, stiff legs and arms, and tight fingers. Practice long tones and slow scales in front of a mirror to observe your body and develop a more relaxed approach for concert band.


Marching band favors instruments with strong projection, such as brass and percussion, and the flute is particularly affected by temperature changes and wind direction outdoors. Concert band conditions are ideal for developing tone and phrasing in the flute section, so concentrate on listening to yourself and other members of the section to blend and balance tone quality, intonation, and dynamics.

Enjoy transitioning from marching band to concert band. Simple tips are often the solutions to the challenges!

About author

Mary Karen Clardy

Mary Karen Clardy, professor of flute at the University of North Texas in Denton, appears as a soloist, chamber artist and teacher throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and South America. A renowned author, she has published more than 10 books from European American Music, Leduc, Schott and Universal Edition. Her students are consistent prizewinners in international competitions and occupy prominent orchestral and faculty positions throughout the world. Visit

Vic Firth Dies at 85

Vic Firth, legendary Boston Symphony Orchestra timpanist, world-renowned educator and founder of Vic Firth Company, passes at 85. Boston, MA, July 27, 2015 – Everett ...