Marching Band Season has arrived! It’s time to start assembling your marching gear. If you or your child are in high school or college, this list will be a helpful guide as you navigate the new marching season.
Remember that these suggestions might not follow your specific band program’s regulations. Always double check dress code or accessories with your band director.
The Proper Marching Instrument
The best flute for marching band isn’t the best instrument that you own. Since you will be outside, your marching flute will be subjected to a lot of weather conditions that can damage it. While it’s important to have a sturdy, reliable flute for marching band, your best flute should be used exclusively for inside band.
If you are going into high school, this is a perfect time for an upgraded new flute to use solely for inside concert band! Then you can use your older beginner flute for outside marching band. If you can’t keep your beginner flute, you can invest in a used flute or piccolo. This will protect your best instrument from costly repairs, as marching instruments do not require as much cosmetic upkeep.
Flutist’s Friend Flute Lyre
Now that you have your flute in tip-top shape, it’s time to play music! However, if you don't have your music memorized quite yet, a flute lyre for marching band is super helpful. One of the most popular lyres is the Flutist’s Friend Flute Lyre, a portable music stand that straps to your arm. It’s lightweight and adjustable in multiple directions. It also comes with plastic covers to keep your music dry and in place.
One of flutists' main issues with playing outside is the wind. A big gust of air can completely silence our sound. The Win-D-Fender, created by local DFW musician Mark Dooly, is an awesome solution. From our website: “Lightweight and comfortable, Win-D-Fender installs easily and safely secures to the flute, shielding the lip plate from all directions while not interfering with the player's air stream.”
Musician Hearing Protection
Protecting your hearing is especially important as a musician. Marching bands can be extremely loud and sometimes the volume reaches harmful noise levels. The Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company carries two types of hearing protection for musicians. These two options reduce unwanted volume while keeping natural sounds so that you can still hear your own playing. Check out Mack's High Fidelity Hear Plugs or Mack's Blackout Foam Ear Plugs.
Due to the nature of the flute, the flute section can sometimes be hard to hear over the other band instruments. It can be harder to fix intonation issues when you can't hear the rest of your section. Using a tuner and then staying in tune by ear gives the flute and piccolo section a chance to stand out as a strong unit.
Depending on what you are provided with from your school, having a flute bag is helpful to keep you organized. Especially when traveling with the marching band, a bag will help you to keep track of your flute. If you are provided with just a garment bag, you should have another place to keep your flute case. A garment bag isn't designed to protect a flute case, and it's easy to confuse another student's garment bag for your own.
Since you are playing outside, your marching flute is exposed to various types of weather. Make sure to clean it! You might not be able to give your flute a thorough cleaning on the field, but you can find time after practice. An inside swab helps to take out the moisture from your blowing as well as from the environment. A separate cloth for the outside will help to remove fingerprints, sweat, and dirt from your flute. Many swabs can be cleaned either by hand or in a washing machine--just be sure to read the washing instructions.
Marching band spans several months and requires you to play outside in various weather conditions. Not only should you consider your own comfort, but you should also take care of your flute or piccolo. Below is a suggested list of items that will help you through marching in inclement weather. Keep in mind that your individual band program may have dress code or gear guidelines that might not fit into all of these recommendations.
- Water bottle: Hydration is necessary, especially in warmer weather. Having your own water bottle ensures that you can drink water before, during, and after marching band practice and performances.
- Lighter layers: Depending on your dress code, it is advisable to wear thin layers made of cooler material. This way, you can stay cool with or without your uniform.
- Hand positioners: If your hands get sweaty, try using a hand positioner to keep your grip on your instrument. Not only will a positioner prevent you from dropping your flute, they also help you maintain a steady and balanced tone.
- Lip plate patch: Just like with your hands, your flute might slip from your face when your face gets sweaty. Lip plate patches help keep your flute in place.
- Fingerless gloves: When your hands get cold, your fingers can’t move as quickly. With all of the notes that flutists have to play, we can't have slow fingers. Having the right gloves for you to play properly is so important! Fingerless or very thin gloves are perfect for flute players. Just double check ahead of time if you can easily play flute with your gloves of choice.
- Thermal coldgear: Wear coldgear under your uniform to keep you warm since it isn’t too bulky. There are many options available that you can most likely find at your local grocery store or athletic department store.
- Disposable warmer pouches: To keep your hands warmer in colder months, you can stash a disposable warmer patch in your pocket to keep your fingers warm and nimble.
Water can damage pads and cause rust in the mechanism. It might be unavoidable, but try to keep your flute out of the rain as much as possible. You might be able to tuck your instrument into your long sleeve or jacket when you aren’t playing. If your flute or piccolo does get wet, thoroughly clean it with your swab and cleaning cloth and keep the case open overnight to dry it out.
Bonus: Represent Your Band!
Don’t forget to represent your band with band swag such as t-shirts, hats, and bumper stickers! Taking pride in your band is fun, and this swag will be wonderful memorabilia for you later in life.
7-24-23, Paula Mims