Secrets of a Marching Band

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Mesmerist, May 17, 2016.

  1. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    How do you do it well? I really struggle to play and march at the same time. I'm a fairly fit person so it is not the physical stamina. I'm not tall which doesn't help when keeping up with long legged trombonists setting a cracking pace. Any tips or techniques you wouldn't mind sharing please? (In view of Friday's little jaunt through some pretty villages).
     
  2. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    By Marching up and down playing, that way you adapt, the trombones at the front should keep to the regulation 24 inch pace!
     
  3. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    If asked to take part in a march I'm not sure how our band would get on. Perhaps we'd have to learn to march together without our our instruments first, then march holding our instruments but not playing them and then finally both march and play at the same time.

    Looking at a Whit Friday march on YouTube (
    ) I see that it's not necessarily the trombones that set the stride but the banner holder and any other leader in front of the (always wonderful Trombones). Maybe an answer is to have the right pacemaker at the front.
     
  4. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    Left foot on the first beat of the bar. It couldn't be easier
     
  5. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    And 3rd!
     
  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Unless you're a pipe band or similar marching to 'A Scottish Soldier' :)
     
  7. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    The 'regulation' pace for marching is 30", which is probably too long for groups with children taking part. It is always better to step shorter in such circumstances, and it is vital to avoid the pace getting longer when marching downhill. Just have to make sure the tempo doesn't increase when stepping short, or you'll end up like the Gurkhas, but with less control!
     
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  8. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    You lot make me laugh! It's not the co-ordination of the feet, it's the playing that becomes really bad. (More than normal).
     
  9. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    All about airflow.....that is why good marching bands spend time marching and playing!
     
  10. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    Interesting topic, glad Mesmerist raised it as I've learnt a few new things from it.

    If the regulation marching pace is 30" (and the brief search I did supports that figure) and if you know the pace of the music then someone could measure their pace and then walk by themselves as training with a metronome. Breaking the task down like that could help identify issues with footwear too as well as learning how to stride out at a pace.

    Soldiers are typically fit and sturdy young men and the 30" step works for them. I wonder what allowance should and maybe is made for mixed groups of old and young, male and female?

    If the physical side of things is a bit OTT I think I'd be tempted to play quietly (or even mime), do what I could when and could, and step along as best I could.
     
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  12. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    British army 120bpm

    Foot Guards used to be 112-116bpm

    Chelsea pensioners tempo a lot slower!


    p.s nice to see you picked up on the deliberate mistake!
     
  13. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    So the secret apparantly is to breathe and walk at the same time, an activity accompilished by most 5 year olds.
    Good to see tmp contributers stepping up to the mark.
     
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  14. 4thmandown

    4thmandown Member

    The way I was taught was basically to keep your upper body and head as still and level as possible, thereby controlling and regulating your breathing as a natural course of action. The body should be upright and never hunched over, with trombones and cornets close to the horizontal. As to stride length, you should always try to ensure that the person on the right of the front row is your most experienced "marcher", who will remain in control of the stride length. They are the one's you should "dress" to, with the command "by the right, quick march", though I often commanded "by the left", to ensure that the players remembered to set off on the left foot. Must've worked, because the Iron Acton Cocoa Works Band once won the deportment prize at Denton when following those instructions!
     
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  15. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Bit rough on the tuba players to dress by the right - no rightward vision at all when marching with a British band style tuba.
     
  16. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    Having marched (not simultaneously) with two flavours of tuba, a euphonium, a baritone, a tenor horn, and a cornet, I can say that I always found marching with a euph to be the easiest. It just sits nicely in the arms, and the rocking and rolling of marching doesn't really move the mouthpiece very much. Next easiest was tuba, because of the strap, though I scarcely used a lyre because they're always too long and move and wobble horrendously, but rather held the marches in my left hand instead. Then the baritone and tenor horn, which were more difficult for me because you have to sort of hold them out and away, leading to more movement in the mouthpiece and discomfort in shoulders and arms. Hardest of all for me was the cornet. Visibility is shocking with the music so close to your face, and difficult to keep it steady.
     
  17. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Over the years I've noticed that many of the top bands at the Whits march with Basses in the front row instead of trombones. Maybe doesn't look as impressive, but it does make for a better balanced band sound on the march.
     
  18. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    And the marines have their drummers.........
     
  19. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    I was once told - can't remember by whom - that the reason for the command of "by the left/centre/right" was determined by the direction of the first turn on the route. ("by the centre" if no turn at all, for example). I have no idea if this is true, although I seem to recall that the person who told me was ex-military. I would be interested to know if this is in fact correct, of if there is some other deciding factor.
     
  20. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    No that is untrue, it is the person in the rank from whom the dressing is taken!
     
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  21. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Surely a well-balanced marching brass band sound is one in which the approach of the band is heralded by the bass trombone's WAP WAP WAP WAP...
     
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