Marching band teaches focus

Marching band teaches focus though unique elemental skills that must be simultaneously mastered during a performance.

Getting started

The foundation of marching band is learning to be still while maintaining excellent posture. This is the “attention” position. Every motion is detailed and dictated to the performer. Being still is like starting with a white canvas for a painter. We’ll add the colors to the canvas later.

Everyone stands tall and “owns” their space. Feet are together and shoulders are rolled back. You start marching band in this position and this is where the war begins, because you are now alone in your head with your own thoughts.

Every part of you wants to move. You’re itchy and fidgety, you feel like you’re going to explode, but you must remain still. Now is a good time to focus on your breathing. Your first lessons on focus have begun.

Time to move

You’ve been moving your entire life and you’re glad that you get to move out of that “attention” position. But, there’s a catch. You have to move in a specific way. And, that way is foreign to your body.

Your legs have to move in time to a beat. The knees have to be straight and your heels have to hit the ground. Your toes need to be up. And, don’t swing your arms. You’ll need your arms for the instrument or equipment.

This will take a great deal of repetition. We’ll work on going forwards and backwards. Then we’ll learn how to turn to the left and right.

You’ll need to play

We’re not just moving around for the heck of it. We’re a marching band, so we have to know how to hold and play instruments.

First we’ll learn how to hold them while we stand and move. Your elbows need to be in the right place and the instrument needs to be the correct height. We’ll work on bringing the instruments into playing position and then out of playing position.

Once we have taught these skills, we’ll need to play something while we move. But, you need to remember how to stand and move properly. You can’t just stop focusing on those things just because you’re playing an instrument. At this point there is no way you can be thinking about anything else and still doing these things well.

Marching band teaches focus through the 8 count box


You’ll be playing music for about ten minutes. We expect you to memorize all of the notes. And, we want you to play the music well. Your previous experience in band classes will be important now.

Play in tune with the people around you. Don’t play too loud, or too soft. Remember your articulation. Show excellent dynamic contrast.

We’ll work on the music while standing still in order to get our parts right. But, we’ll need everyone to get the music right as quickly as possible so that we can put the “show” together.

The “drill”

Every count of our half-time performance will be structured. There will be no moments where you can just stand on the field.

Some of these movements will be basic marching and others will be choreographed dance sequences. So, we’ll need to add dance instruction to our rehearsals as well. And, if you know anything about dance, you know that every movement needs to be correct. You’ll need a ton of focus.

Once we have the “drill” or motion taught, we’ll begin adding music. It is going to take every bit of your concentration to do this well because we still expect the music to be performed well.

Other factors

We’re not going to perform inside. We’re going to perform in the heat of August. And, in some places, we’ll perform in the cold of November.

The sun will be in your eyes. The wind will blow the colorguard flags. Sometimes you’ll be rained on. Maybe it’ll start to snow.

The audience will cheer and sometimes they’ll jeer. Parents and fans will scream things that will pull at your attention.

The field may have divots of turf that have been dug up during the football game. The lines that you used to learn the drill may be so faint that you can’t see them.

But, you are expected to perform! And you are expected to perform well. You will need to block out every distraction if you are going to succeed.

Participate, Promote, Patronize

If you have the opportunity to be in a marching band, JOIN! If you’re a parent with children who can be in a marching band, have them join. You will see an improvement in your/their ability to focus.

Above all, patronize these marching bands. Go to see their performances. and Bands of America websites have listings of high level competitions.

Buy the fundraising items from your local band, or give them a big donation!

Our next generation will need organizations like marching bands to help hone their focus in an increasingly distracting and chaotic world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *