In another post, I discussed the importance of creating a schedule for your marching rehearsal, reflecting on how rehearsals that are very loose and "shooting from the hip" aren't an effective use of your students' or staff's time.
A second common issue I've seen going to rehearsals is an ill-structured rehearsal process. Like many things, there are many right ways to do it, but there are also a bunch of incorrect ways.
I'll outline here the process/system that's worked for me at myriad programs: high school, college, and drum corps. In the end, it's a pretty simple plan that will keep the flow rolling on the field from rep to rep. If you're thinking about the overall rehearsal plan, go back to that link at the top of this post.
Before we even get to the flow, there are two imperatives that will keep your rehearsals tight, efficient, and effective.
My life has given me an interesting opportunity to interact with a LOT of band kids from all over the place and in a variety of ways. As a marching arranger, I often get to visit with the programs for which I write. As a drum corps instructor, our audition process brings us many more players that we have spots for. As a composer, I get the chance to Zoom into a band room to talk with students. And over this past year, editing virtual ensembles, I've been really into the weeds with individuals' performances.
I really can't stress enough how important it is for bands kids - from the very beginning - to know how to count.
Imagine, if you will, your first foray into triangles in geometry class and your math teacher teaching you all about right triangles, makes you memorize all the common sizes (3-4-5, 6-8-10, 5-12-13) - but never teaches you the Pythagorean theorem to be able to figure it out on your own.
Imagine being in middle school English class - I think we can all remember the stress and agony over all those spelling words. But after learning all those big and fanciful words, you don't know the definitions of them to use them in a sentence.
This is band without rhythm.
As I've traveled around to work with different bands - be it to pop in for a day of consulting or working long-term and in-depth - I've had many directors ask about what they need to do to improve.
While there are many various ways we all can improve regularly, one of the simplest and easiest fixes to get your program achieving on a whole new level - points better; placements better - is having a structure to the rehearsal.
Some of the programs where I've seen the biggest need for this are where I stop in and the director says "alright, we're going to start with a run-through."
One of the growing headaches we face in the marching arts is the cost of copyright clearances. The challenge is that we all recognize the composers and artists deserve the compensation for their works, but the increasing expenses of getting the clearances is squeezing many band directors' budgets.
There's a great clearing house that provides quick, simple, and easy access to getting rights granted quickly and knowing your costs right away. However, that access comes at a premium, and that's where bands face a greatly increased budget. Thankfully - there is an alternative.
This blog started to talk about travel and food. Now, it's slowly expanding to cover some other topics. Stick around!