Or, How to Survive Your First Season With Marching Band
NOTE: All costs described below related to the 2019/20 season. Costs vary from year to year, sometimes considerably. Readers should consider all costs on this page simply to be illustrative for the purposes of understanding how the ensembles operate, and in no way to be predictive of actual costs relating to upcoming seasons.
3/15/21 UPDATE: Slides from Mr McGuire’s meeting introducing the 2021/22 Marching Band requirements are here. Where there is a conflict between the information below and the slides, trust the slides! This note will be removed once content has been updated.
3/13/21 NOTE: This FAQ was originally written in early 2020, pre-COVID. Please see the “disclaimer” note below. Contents here will be updated as more details about the 2021 season become available. In the meantime, please consider this to be true in spirit more than to the letter.
Welcome to the FAQ! To be clear right up front, this is written largely with the goal of helping the parents of 8th-graders who are considering joining the Marching Band or Color Guard as they move from QMS to MHS. Students are welcome to read the document, of course, but it is directed more towards parents. Towards the end we will touch lightly upon some of the other ensembles, but much of the focus here is on the Fall season Marching Band and Color Guard. (From here on out, we’ll just say Marching Band as a catch-all term.)
The FAQ’s purpose is to provide some insight into the level of commitment required from the student, the structure of the program, and set the stage for what parents can expect to see, and when. It aims to be realistic and fair, and is based on the questions and experiences of students and parents who moved into the 9th grade in the Fall of 2019. The reality is that there is a steep learning curve and new band members will have some exceptionally challenging moments as well as some immensely rewarding ones as they encounter the demands and expectations of a very high achieving and recognized high school program.
If you haven’t already, please read or re-read the description of the Band and Marching Band program in the MHS Program of Studies document. You may also want to review the Concert Band and Marching Band pages on this site for an overview of their activities, including pictures and videos.
This FAQ is organized in roughly chronological order as various milestones are encountered: pre-band camp, band camp, post-band camp, start of the new term, and competition performances. This document may seem long and overwhelming – but don’t be put off, this doesn’t all happen at once.
Obligatory disclaimer: While efforts will be made to keep this document current and up-to-date, it was originally written in early 2020 and based on personal experience of the Fall 2019 season, as well as what is known about the upcoming 2020 season. Communications from Mr McGuire and/or the MBPA will likely modify or supersede the information presented here. Also bear in mind that all band activities exist “in the real world” and therefore a degree of flexibility is to be expected. Last minute challenges, issues, opportunities and schedule changes inevitably occur. But it is important to remember that band staff are always conscious of the competing demands on students’ time and attention and always endeavor to act in their best interests. If you find that some aspect of this FAQ is incorrect, please let us know.
In the event that your specific question is not addressed here, please feel free to reach out to our Middle School liaison, Ms Pep or Mr McGuire.
Let’s get started.
- Do all MHS Band students have to attend Marching Band, too?
- No – starting in Fall 2020, full participation in Marching Band is one of the things that differentiates CP Band from Honors Band. CP Band students participate in Concert Band lessons during the school day and perform in concerts, but not in parades, at home football games, or Marching Band rehearsals or competitions. Honors Band students must participate in all CP Band activities as well as Marching Band after school – including all rehearsals, band camp and competitions – as well as parades and home football games. In practice, about 90% of Band students choose the Honors route, but the CP option is great for someone who also wants to do a Fall sport and is uncertain about managing the workload.
|CP Student||Honors Student|
|School day band practice||Yes||Yes|
|After-school Marching Band rehearsals|
(Spring and Fall)
|Band Camp and Post-Band Camp||Yes|
- How many 9th-grade students continue with Marching Band into 10th grade?
- In 2019 14 out of 17 9th-graders continued into 10th grade. One student did not continue with band and two others played a Fall sport and did not want to try to manage both.
- Is it possible to participate in Marching Band (Honors option) as well as a Fall sport?
- Yes, but it requires a lot of discipline to stay on top of everything. Band and sport programs have high standards, high expectations, and a very significant time commitment, but will also insist that regular schoolwork/homework takes priority. Only a few 9th-graders do this, and those who do generally elect to do one or the other from 10th grade forward. There certainly won’t be much time for kicking back and watching YouTube.
- Does Mr McGuire run the Marching Band all by himself?
- No! Marching Band is a huge group effort. While Mr McGuire is the Band Director and responsible for the program as a whole, he is supported by an amazing team of dedicated assistants. Ms. Laurie Pepicelli (“Ms. Pep”) at QMS is the Marching Band Assistant Director, and there are many others who lead the development of sections of musicians and the color guard. A full list can be found here. In addition, the MBPA helps find parent volunteers to assist with critical activities such as designing and building props, transporting those props to competitions and setting them up, designing and fitting costumes and uniforms, and raising money to pay for all of this. Please take a look at the “Get Involved!” section of this website to learn more.
Transitioning from QMS
- Is it true that Marching Band students start rehearsing before they’ve even left QMS?
- Yes! Rehearsals to begin integrating 8th-graders at QMS into the MHS Marching Band start in mid May. These are full Marching Band rehearsals for returning MHS students plus the rising 8th-graders. In 2020 there will be two rehearsals per week from May 18 to June 29 lasting approx 2.5hrs each in the evening from 6.00-8.30pm. Please see the calendar page for exact dates. Students will practice drills with their instruments and start to learn the basics of marching and moving in formation. If students have school conflicts or prior sports commitments then they are excused, but advance notice is required.
- Also during this Spring period, concussion testing will be performed – a requirement for participation in Marching Band.
- The whole band then takes a break from June 29 until “pre band camp” on August 13.
- One thing that has tripped up new parents and students in the past has been the expectation around practice start times. Expectations are communicated to students in regard to being “on the field” and ready to go at the right time – not just arriving on site at that time. Increasingly, Mr McGuire has been careful to include a “report time” in the schedule, to allow 15 minutes of setting up and prep time before the practice starts in earnest. As a general rule of thumb, the rehearsal start time shown on the calendar is the report time and students should aim to arrive at school no later than that time.
- Percussionists will also find that early Summer is when they are informed of the instrument they will be playing. There is a need for snares, basses, tenors, flubs, mallets and other percussion. Some percussion students may be asked to play an instrument other than their first choice, and not all percussionists march – some will be in the “pit”. While this may lead to some disappointment for some students in the short term, the camaraderie within each section means it rarely has a lasting impact on the student’s enjoyment of Marching Band and, in fact, often leads to the development of new and complementary skills. Many students that play one percussion instrument one year are able to play a different instrument the following year (or in the Winter Percussion ensemble or Concert Band).
Mid-August: Band camp
- Camp! That sounds like fun! How does that work?
- “Pre-Band Camp” in 2020 is on Thursday, August 13th and is a relatively short day (about 5 hrs), the purpose of which is to explain how band camp will work, go over logistics, conduct some “refresher” practice, start working on dot books (see below), and start sorting out uniforms.
- Band camp “proper” starts on Monday, August 17th and runs for 8 hours each day from 1.00pm to 9.00pm through Saturday.
- At the end of the last day of band camp, parents are invited to come and watch the entire ensemble do a run-through on the field. It is a great opportunity to see how much has been accomplished in a short time and, while the performance is inevitably somewhat rough and ready, is an exciting indicator of the greatness to come!
- What happens during a typical day?
- Warm-up and practice drills – both instrumental and movement (referred to as “visual”) – water- and dinner-breaks, and team building exercises.
- What do students need to bring?
- Clothing that is appropriate for moving around indoors and outdoors during mid-August. Comfortable shoes in good condition are a must – students will be spending a lot of time on their feet on a variety of surfaces (grass field, turf field, indoors).
- Plenty of food and water. Especially water. Most students use high-capacity water bottles – at least a half-gallon, with many opting for a full gallon. Water bottles can of course be refilled during breaks.
- Sun screen
- Their instruments, music and dot books.
- What’s a dot book?
- This is a small booklet – essentially a bound set of note cards – put together by each student using printouts of their physical position on the field at each key point during the performance. Basically, it is their map of where to be and when, and what to play at that point. It is something they will refer to endlessly during rehearsals until it is imprinted on their brain.
- That all sounds great! What else do I need to know?
- Band camp is… intense. This is when a new 9th-grader is suddenly given the same challenges as an experienced 12th-grader. If a student is going to rethink their choice to join Marching Band, this is when it is going to happen. Probably on the third or fourth day. Experienced students find it very difficult, though they know to expect that, and they know that everything will be fine in the end. New students will feel like they’ve been hit. Hard. And it’s hot. And they’re tired. And they’re making mistakes and feeling like they’ll never be able to do what they’re being asked to do. They thought they were good musicians when they were at QMS and now they don’t know which way is up. Some of them will discover that they’re being asked to play notes that they don’t yet know how to play. And even when they’re “relaxing” at home in the mornings they still have to put together these fiddly things called “dot books” and review them. It feels like too much. There may be tears. They’ll want to give up. But they shouldn’t.
- But hold on. Everything was going great until now. What changed?
- Band camp is when everyone gets given their actual show music and directions, not just practice drills, and the race is on to get everyone performance-ready as soon as possible. That means learning a lot of music by heart as well as moving around the field in ever-changing formations without missing a mark, tripping over, walking into someone or forgetting to play your (possibly quite heavy) instrument in tune at the right time and at the right volume. And… as sequences are worked out and issues discovered, students may find that the music they learned yesterday is suddenly revised, updated, or trashed and replaced with something new today, with a request to know it by heart by tomorrow.
- That sounds highly unrealistic. Why try to do so much at once?
- There are two aspects to this:
- Competitions start in late September. The band doesn’t have much time to get ready (but note the very important comment below about the staff’s realistic expectations for the first few competitions).
- As hard as this is, it is better to get as much learning done before school starts in September. That way, students can just be practicing and perfecting their parts while dealing with the start of a new school year and new homework demands, rather than still trying to learn their music and moves.
- All that said, no one realistically expects all the students to be able to learn everything that quickly. The challenge is simply to try as hard as possible, to persevere, and start to develop good time management habits. Note that trying hard doesn’t mean not resting. Brains and bodies need rest to recover and fully gain the benefit of the work that has been done. Helping your student to adopt best practices in terms of combining active learning with appropriate rest – read a relaxing book, go for a walk, play a game, get enough sleep – will help not only with band, but with all school work.
- In addition, starting in 2019 each freshman was assigned two senior band members to act as peer mentors. This provides more support from experienced students who understand what it is like to be new to the group and can provide reassurance and encouragement that there is, indeed, light at the end of the tunnel. One of the great benefits of the band program in general is the lack of stratification between grade levels. While it is entirely natural for new 9th-graders who know only each other to cluster together at the start of band camp, most students very quickly come to realize that they are all peers regardless of grade level. A new 9th-grader will develop great friendships with 12th-graders and, conversely, three years later as a 12th-grader themselves will develop friendships with new 9th-graders. Band provides a unique opportunity to leave high school with a set of friendships spread over a seven-year age range – three years above and three years below your student’s grade. And of course those cross-grade friendships continue to exist during the regular school day: your new section leader might also be your project partner in engineering class.
- There are two aspects to this:
Post Band Camp
- Wait – we’re not done yet?
- No, we’re not. Immediately following band camp, additional rehearsals are held on:
- Tuesday and Thursday, August 25th and 27th from 3.45-8.00pm,
- Saturday, August 29th from 8.45am to 5.00pm,
- Tuesday, Sept 1 (last day of the Summer holiday) from 3.45-7.00pm, and
- Thursday, Sept 3 (second day of school) from 5.15-8.30pm.
- Right after band camp, many students may view this post band camp period with trepidation, but the reduced intensity – while still being highly focused – is actually a great period of consolidation of knowledge, skill and technique.
- No, we’re not. Immediately following band camp, additional rehearsals are held on:
- What about Labor Day?
- No rehearsals are held on the Labor Day weekend.
- After the Labor Day break, the regular term time schedule applies.
- How much rehearsal time is there during the school year?
- About 13-21 hrs per week, outside of school hours, depending on whether there are competitions and/or football games that week. After the first few weeks of the Fall term, most weeks will be towards the higher end of that range. It breaks down roughly like this:
- Weekdays: twice a week (Monday and Thursday) from 5.30pm to 8.30pm-ish. (Practice finishes at 8.30pm. Actual dismissal time depends on how quickly the students pack up. In the words of Mr McGuire: “Students are expected to arrive promptly for the start of rehearsal. We rehearse until 8.30pm and then students have to pack up. Depending on how quickly they pack up they can be dismissed by 8.45. If they take their time then it may go a few minutes later. I try and get them out as fast as possible because I, too, want to get home.”)
- Fridays: If there is a home football game, from 6.00pm to the end of the game (9.00pm-ish.)
- Saturdays: either rehearsal at school if no competition (9.45am to 4.00pm) or attendance at competition (up to 12 hours depending on location.) The first couple of weeks of the new school year will be practices at school. Competitions generally start in the second half of September. At that point the Saturday competition schedule will be operative except for maybe one or two weekends, until the MetLife competition marks the end of the season in mid-November. On occasion, a competition may be on a Sunday, in which case there will also be a shortened practice session on the Saturday.
- It is worth being aware that the above can lead to a string of back-to-back rehearsals and performances that require very careful planning and time management from students. For example, in late October/early November 2019 there was the Halloween concert on Wednesday October 30th, followed by regular rehearsal on Thursday evening, a football game on the Friday, shortened (11.00am-3.30pm) practice on Saturday, NESBA Championship competition in Lawrence on Sunday, regular practice on Monday, two days off, and then regular Thursday practice followed by the MetLife weekend trip starting Friday after school (see below) and the Veteran’s Day parade on Monday. It’s a lot, but it’s very manageable if you are prepared for it. It’s also incredibly rewarding for the students when they emerge unscathed at the end and recognize what they just accomplished.
- About 13-21 hrs per week, outside of school hours, depending on whether there are competitions and/or football games that week. After the first few weeks of the Fall term, most weeks will be towards the higher end of that range. It breaks down roughly like this:
- The Program of Studies says that Marching Band practices and performances are mandatory. How are conflicts – for example due to family holidays, travel, religious holidays or homework overload – managed?
- Religious holidays are excused. Weddings and events of that nature are excused as long as the student has provided plenty of notice to Mr McGuire. He will survey the families before the season in order to get a handle on those conflicts in advance. Last minute conflicts are much more challenging and depending on the conflict may not be excused. Mr McGuire asks that students reach out as soon as they know so that they can start to work on a solution:
“Traditionally school work is not an excuse to miss a rehearsal. If there is a special circumstance I have asked students to come and sit with me so we can work it out. Generally speaking, time management is part of the expectation for marching. Usually students get into these situations because they aren’t managing their time. Teachers at the high school rarely assign large projects, major tests, or insurmountable amounts of homework one night and make it due the next day. Generally speaking they have more time to do it and fall behind because they aren’t keeping up with their work. That being said, if issues come up I ask that the students come and meet with me and we talk about the conflict – usually I handle it on a case by case basis. Often times we talk about their schedules and how to manage the commitment. I may bring other students in to help with how they have handled these situations in the past. Ultimately, my goal is for every kid to be successful both in band and academics. There may be some bumps freshman year but most kids get it.” – Mr McGuire
- How much practice (outside of school rehearsals) is required?
- On rehearsal nights there is no requirement for practice at home. On non-rehearsal/performance nights students are asked to spend some time with their music. The bulk of the practice expectation takes place in the Concert Band months. Students are asked to try and put in 15-30 minutes a day on the music during the Winter and Spring months and as much as they can during the Fall. There is sensitivity to the fact that students have to balance academics and marching rehearsals in the Fall.
- Sectionals may also be run to help students with music – but if they can’t attend because of homework or extra help after school then they are excused. Sectional rehearsals are not always consistent and only done when needed.
- Sometimes, students themselves will arrange additional sectional rehearsals, but it is important to note that these are entirely voluntary and it is not an expectation from staff that students attend anything other than staff-scheduled rehearsals.
- When do after-school practices stop?
- Evening and weekend rehearsals end after Veterans Day weekend. We perform at Thanksgiving and then the only after school commitments are parades, concerts and MICCA. In total we may have 5 parades: The Big E, Halloween, Veterans Day, Holiday (Thanksgiving weekend), and Memorial Day. If a student does not participate in Winter Percussion or Jazz Band then the only after-school commitments would be those parades, concerts, graduation, and MICCA.
- Can Honors (Marching Band) students drop back to CP band if the commitment is too much?
- Students can drop to CP in the first few weeks of the school year. At that point a lot of drill has been written so the hope is that they can make the decision before (either in the Spring rehearsals or in the first few days of band camp). It is understood, though, that new students won’t know what it’s like to balance school and band at that point, but it is likely that they will have some sense of whether Marching Band is a good fit before then. Also, it is important to keep in mind that new students will struggle most at first and then get into the groove of the school year – so it is often worth waiting a little before making that call.
- How do students get all their homework done?
- By being organized and disciplined. While the rehearsal and performance schedule can seem overwhelming – especially in the early weeks when 9th-graders are adjusting to the demands of high school – it is manageable if the student plans ahead, is disciplined around completing homework and works proactively with teachers as soon as issues arise. There is very much an expectation at MHS that students will take ownership of their responsibilities, and will reach out as needed and not at the last minute. Some students (and parents!) have found it helpful to put together a daily planner in order to get a sense of their schedule and the available times when homework needs to be completed. The key is not leaving issues to the last minute to resolve. As an aside, some students have found that the discipline imposed by the tight schedule is actually an unexpected benefit – and their self-discipline disappears when Marching Band participation ceases!
- My student is being recommended for all Honors classes next year. Don’t Honors classes get more homework? Won’t the workload be too much?
- It is true that Honors classes generally get assigned more/harder homework than CP classes. But the ability to get any level of work done for a given subject is very personal and specific to each student. Any student who struggles with a subject may find themselves needing more homework time than a student who finds the subject easier. In general, teachers will recommend a student for the Honors track if they believe the student is capable of succeeding without it taking over their life.
- So while it is impossible to give a definitive answer to this question, it is also true to say that there are many Marching Band students who are also very successful “all Honors” students – and some who do even more than that in terms of yet more extra-curricular activity or AP classes.
- As is hopefully clear by now, the key is disciplined time management, including a degree of thinking ahead. For example, if your English teacher assigns a chapter of a book to read for homework, and it happens to be a relatively easy (rehearsal-free) evening in regard to homework, then why not read the next chapter or two, also? You know that work is coming, and those chapters might be assigned reading on a night that’s busier. But now you’re ahead of the game and life is easier.
- Where and when do the students perform?
- There are four types of performance, described below.
- Marching Band Competitions
- Marching Band competitions start in the second half of September and continue through early November. Most of the competitions are on Saturday, though a few may be on Sunday. If the competition is on Sunday, there will likely be a rehearsal on the Saturday, too. Marching Band participates in competitions run by NESBA and by US Bands.
- With the exception of the MetLife performance (more on this below), the competitions are in Eastern Massachusetts. Some are relatively nearby (Blackstone, King Philip), but others (Wakefield, Reading, North Andover) are a bit of a drive. Expect a 12 hr commitment for students including morning practice at school, lunch, loading equipment on the truck, travel, performance, and unloading equipment back at school. A sample schedule can be seen here. There is usually some downtime during which some homework can be done, but it takes real discipline to do homework during a competition day. Most students would rather just hang out and relax during the breaks.
- Expect early performances to be incomplete. Music, movement and props are still being finalized and adapted based on feedback from judges. It is best to treat the early competitions as dress rehearsals/preview shows. In other words, students shouldn’t overly stress about not feeling ready. As long as they are working diligently, they’ll be fine. In 2019, the first competition performance comprised only half of the final show (two of four movements). There is a massive difference, in all respects, between the first and last shows of the season.
- Which brings us to MetLife. The MetLife show is the final competition of the season, and is held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. (Note: Band participation in the MetLife event is contingent upon a number of factors, and – as of the time of writing – is not guaranteed to occur. But the information below reflects the experience of prior years.) The students take a bus down after school on the Friday, returning on Sunday evening. Rehearsals are held at a local school on Saturday during the day, with the competition in the stadium in the evening. On Sunday the students travel to Manhattan and visit Times Square, traditionally attending a Broadway matinee, before traveling back to Mansfield for a late evening arrival. Because of the multi-day nature of the event, a hotel stay is required. Students share four to a room to keep costs down, but there is a cost – about $300 in 2019 (but note that this can and will vary from year to year) – and because of this the MetLife trip is considered voluntary. That said, it is a goal of the program, and of the MBPA, that students should not miss out due to financial circumstances, and assistance is available. Please see the Financial Aid section of this website for more information. Of course, parents are also welcome to attend the show, and many do so. Volunteers are still needed to deal with props, etc, as well as helping provide food for the students, and many parents will take the opportunity for a weekend away in NYC. The MetLife trip and competition is the highlight of the entire Marching Band season for most students.
- Parades are usually two hours or less. In total there are usually five parades: The Big E, Halloween, Veterans Day, Holiday (Thanksgiving weekend), and Memorial Day. Memorial Day is the only parade in the second trimester.
- The Big E is the only parade that occurs during the school day and, while participation is not required, most do attend. This is considered an excused absence by the school, and students are expected to work with their teachers to account for the missed time. Teachers are familiar with the band program activities and are more than happy to accommodate student conflicts as long as the students themselves take ownership of resolving these issues. Students who participate in a school sport might have a conflict that prevents participation in the parade. Similar to the MetLife event, the Big E parade incurs an additional, though much lower, cost and therefore participation is considered voluntary. Since the weather is usually still quite warm at this event, the marching band uniform is replaced by a unique Big E event t-shirt and required khaki shorts. Those and the need for transportation are the drivers of the additional cost. Parent volunteers are also welcome to accompany the band as chaperones.
- The Veteran’s Day parade is usually on the Monday immediately following the MetLife trip (ie, the students are still quite tired from getting home late the night before), which makes for a long weekend, but at least they get the rest of the day to recover once the morning responsibilities have been addressed.
- Similar to the Big E parade, the warmer weather expected in the Spring means that the Memorial Day parade is also performed in a band t-shirt and khaki shorts, which may represent an additional expense.
- Football games
- Marching band plays at home games and at the Thanksgiving Day game. The exact number varies from year to year. In 2019 there were 3 scheduled home games played on a Friday evening, with additional play-off games dependent on the success of the football team. Students usually arrive at school at 5:30pm for the first game and 6:00pm for the rest. They are done by 9:00 or 9:30pm, depending on when the game ends. Game start timings can be affected by town spraying for EEE.
- Timings for the traditional Thanksgiving Day game against Foxboro depend a little on whether we are playing home or away. The report time tends to be around 8:30am and students are likely to be dismissed by 1:00 or 1:30pm. Students traveling for Thanksgiving are usually excused from the game. It is expected that students will convey their planned absence to Mr McGuire well in advance.
- There are no additional concerts specific to Marching Band, but as members of the regular Concert Band, students are expected to attend the regular in-school and after-school concerts, which are similar to those at QMS.
- What are the financial costs of participation in Marching Band?
- This is a good place to reiterate the opening paragraph of this article, namely: “All costs described below related to the 2019/20 season. Costs vary from year to year, sometimes considerably. Readers should consider all costs on this page simply to be illustrative for the purposes of understanding how the ensembles operate, and in no way to be predictive of actual costs relating to upcoming seasons.”
- As noted above, the events that incur additional costs are the Big E parade (~$60 in 2019) and the MetLife competition (~$300 in 2019). Both of these events are considered voluntary. Parents should review the section on this website regarding financial assistance if applicable.
- There are also some required clothing purchases to supplement the main uniform: a compression shirt, shoes and gloves. These are specific to marching band (i.e. regular shoes/sneakers are not an option) and can be acquired through Amazon and other retailers.
- The main uniform is supplied by the school but will usually take a good few weeks to sort out as uniforms are reallocated between students and adjusted to fit.
- Sometimes, students within a specific band section may wish to purchase items, for example baseball caps, as a group identifier. While this can be great to further develop relationships and group cohesion, it is important to know that these are entirely student-driven, and voluntary, initiatives. Similarly, students may occasionally (and particularly at band camp) decide to do theme/color days. Again, this is voluntary and there is no expectation from staff that students participate, and students/parents are certainly not expected to incur additional expense to do so. Any purchases or expenses that are “expected” as part of the program will be formally communicated in advance by Mr McGuire via email. Anything else is usually driven by the students themselves and should be considered optional. Sometimes this can require a conversation or two with your student about what should be considered reasonable…
After Marching Band
- What happens after the Marching Band season ends?
- There are a number of post-Marching Band options, described below.
- What’s Percussion Ensemble?
- Percussion Ensemble is a smaller ensemble – about 30 students in 2019/2020 analogous to the battery and pit sections of Marching Band. It competes in WGI and NESBA competitions and has been extremely successful. Please see the Percussion Ensemble page for examples of their performances.
- When is the Percussion Ensemble season and what are the time commitments?
- Percussion ensemble starts about a week or two after marching band ends (November). The time commitment is similar to marching band – two nights per week and Saturdays until competitions start – but there are also occasional additional rehearsals on a Friday and/or Sunday, weekly sectional rehearsals prior to the main ensemble rehearsal, and evening rehearsals during February vacation leading up to the first competition.
- Do you have to be in Honors band to participate in Percussion Ensemble?
- No, but priority is given to students in Marching Band as they generally do better in the audition with a season of training under their belt. Also, note that several students in Percussion Ensemble actually played a completely different (wind/brass) instrument in Marching Band.
- Is there an additional cost?
- Yes. Percussion ensemble is a bit like Marching Band on steroids. Costumes are an additional cost, and the marquee event of the season is participation in the WGI finals in Dayton, Ohio, in April, which takes the better part of a week (possibly four days away from school, depending on the year – again, coordination with teachers is paramount and it is considered an excused absence). The total cost for the 2019/2020 season was approximately $1,400 (again: note that this should not be presumed to be the projected cost of future seasons). Unlike Marching Band, in which participation in events with additional costs are voluntary, participation in all competitions including Dayton is mandatory. As always, parents are advised to consider the availability of financial assistance.
Winter Color Guard
- What’s Winter Color Guard?
- This is an extracurricular activity where students use movement skills and traditional color guard equipment (flags, sabres, wooden rifles, etc.) to perform a 4 – 5 minute program to pre-recorded music. The color guard competes in NESBA and WGI and offers two skill levels: the white team for the newer performers and the green team for the more skilled and experienced performers.
- How often does Jazz Band meet? What are the requirements?
- One day per week after school from 2:00-3:30 or 4:00pm. Jazz Band doesn’t pick up too much until after Marching Band season ends. This is an auditioned group and priority is given to students who participate in either CP or Honors band. Since auditions are required, your student is not guaranteed a spot, or they might get a spot but be asked to play a different instrument.
Other music ensembles
- Are there any other music after-school clubs?
- There are opportunities to accompany the choir. There is also some discussion of a guitar ensemble for the future and a few other ensembles. There is also pit orchestra for the musical. Participation in the Tri-M honors society is dependent on the student participating in an ensemble. There are also other opportunities to perform solo at a coffeehouse and talent show.
- If a student does Marching Band and no other music clubs in the first semester, would he/she be able to join music clubs in the second semester?
- There are opportunities throughout the year to join. Many opportunities for instrumentalists begin after the marching band season has ended.
- As a parent, what should I be doing to help my Marching Band student?
- The most important thing is to simply keep checking in with your student to see how he/she is doing. Participating in Marching Band and Color Guard can be a stressful experience at times, particularly during the Band Camp / Post Band Camp weeks. It is important that the students know they are not alone in feeling that stress, and that it is a passing phenomenon. After the first few competitions, and certainly by the time the final competition events have finished, the excitement and sense of accomplishment will have far outweighed the early concerns.
- You can also contribute directly to the success of the ensembles by volunteering your time or making a financial donation. Much of this is done via the MBPA. Any parent of a band student is automatically a member of the MBPA, which exists to coordinate activities and funding in support of the band program. You are invited to browse this website to see the extent of the MBPA’s activities and the crucial contribution it makes to the band program’s success. Volunteers are needed – particularly in late Summer and the first few weeks of the season – to help with the following:
- Prop building
- Uniform fitting and tailoring
- Transporting props and pit instruments to parades and competitions, and setting up the props on the field
- Fundraising, including volunteering at Gillette Stadium
- Participating in MBPA monthly meetings to determine goals and activities
- I still have questions. Where can I get the answers?
- Click here to see the ways to contact Mr McGuire and/or representatives from the MBPA
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