Parade Prep

Lane Armey

There are few types of activities in the marching world more polarizing than parades. Some people view them as distractions from competitive field shows or just a pain because of their length, the weather or their timing. Other directors, teachers and students consider them to be great performance opportunities, the chance to be part of local community events. Regardless of your perspective, if you march in a drumline, a parade usually means trying to keep your band in step and playing your cadence about a thousand times. Check out these tips for parade success!

Prepare Your Body. Parades often take more stamina than your field show but are practiced far less. When there are no direction changes and no halts, and you are just chugging along with your drum for a few miles, it can get downright painful. Build some stamina and wear your drums more than normal leading up to a parade. Ditch the stand and consider investing in a back brace.

Keep the Music Simple. Don’t overwrite the music. Trust me … simplify. It might be cool to write a cadence with a ton of crazy beats. Are you going to rehearse it enough to clean those crazy beats? Is anyone watching you along the parade route going to notice those beats? Are you still going to enjoy playing them the 26th time through the cadence? Unlikely. So drop a few of those flams. Most of the people along the street are more interested in your cool stick visuals.

Rehearse in Formation. One of the strangest things about performing a parade is playing in the parade form. Your drumline needs to rehearse the parade music and the cadence in a parade block, not just in an arc. Getting used to this type of playing—and listening—is important for the entire band, too. Music phasing will definitely happen if it is not rehearsed properly.

Play for the Kids! The most important audience members during parades are the children sitting along the route. Use this opportunity to really connect with kids in a way that a field show doesn’t always do.

I fell in love with quads sitting along a local Indiana parade route when I was seven. I was hooked for life.

Regardless of how you feel, those kids love a parade.

About author

Lane Armey

Lane Armey is the battery percussion coordinator for Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif. In the past, he has worked with various groups including Northwestern University and the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.

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