Faugh A Ballagh
Clear the Way
This Manual is posted Courtesy and with Permission of
Dr. Charles A. Henzie and Merl Smith are probably the foremost authorities on drum majoring in the United States. As founders and directors of the Smith-Walbridge Drum Major Camp, they have systematically developed drum majoring and fundamental drill methods from a basic beginning into highly proficient techniques.
Dr. Henzie's educational and marching band experience has developed a solid drum majoring background. He was director of the Butler University Band for twenty years and professor of Music at Butler University and Jordan College of Music. Under his tutelage were graduated some of the nation's finest marching band directors including several Big Ten directors. He received his Doctor of Education Degree from Indiana University and is nationally in demand as a clinician and adjudicator.
Dr. Henzie has dedicated himself to music education, marching bands and drum majoring. One of his greatest assets is his great ability to communicate with all age groups and to inspire them to their full potential.
Merl Smith is nationally known as an instructor of drum majoring and baton twirling. He is past president of the All American Drum Major Association and the United States Twirling Association. As founder and director of the Smith-Walbridge Camp, Mr. Smith has been a leader in the development of drum majoring and baton twirling methods in the United States. He has devoted much of his life to the teaching of twirlers, drum majors, drum and bugle corps and bands and has been responsible for national and state champions in all categories.
He personally won the United States Twirling Championship at the Chicagoland Music Festival in 1939 and served as drum major of the Mishawaka High School Band, the Hawaii Sea Bee Battalion Band and several drum corps.
This book is the result of eighteen years of the combined efforts of Dr. Henzie and Merl Smith and will serve as an invaluable guide for all drum majors and band directors.
The concept of this book resulted from seven years of publishing a drum major manual in mimeograph form by Smith-Walbridge Drum Major Camp. Each of the seven years brought a new edition with more refined teaching methods and techniques for the drum major. The culmination of all the material that had been tested and retested, plus charting is the content of this book.
This manual was thus created to cover whistle and baton commands, basic drill for the marching band, fundamental instruction and charting for the football marching band. The material is designed to train the drum major to function as the field director of the band and as an assistant director in rehearsing the marching band for football, parades and other events related to the band's public appearances as a marching unit. All basic commands were adapted from the United States Army Band Manual and from the staff of professional instructors who had been drum majors of some of the finest bands in the country.
Materials in this text have been tested by over eight thousand high school and college students desiring to be drum majors of their school bands. Hundreds of bands have performed effectively to the signal commands presented in this book. We pay our special thanks to the following professional teachers who have contributed to the establishment of the system of drum major signals herein: "Duke" Miller of University of Arizona at Temple, Tom Veenendall of Michigan State University, Dick Follett of University of Michigan, Jack Crum. of Butler University, Fred Miller of University of Dayton.
The charting section of the book is designed to acquaint the drum major with the fundamentals of charting for the football band so that he may assist the director in training and rehearsing the band.
Much of the information related to charting has been provided by the Big Ten directors who have served as clinicians for the Smith-Walbridge Drum Major Camps. These directors are responsible for developing many of the charting techniques currently in use by many bands. They represent a segment of Who's Who in the College Band Directors National Association. From the Big Ten and other colleges the list includes:
Jack Lee, University of Arizona
Jack Evans, Ohio State University
John Paynter, Northwestern University
Everett Kisinger, University of Illinois
Frederick Ebbs, Indiana University
Charles Spohn, Ohio State University
Tom Davis, University of Iowa
C. B. Wilson, Western Reserve University
Michael Leckrone, University of Wisconsin
Gary Smith, Saint Joseph College
The authors wish to express their appreciation for the use of the charting examples supplied by the Big Ten band directors whose cooperation made possible the presentation of charting from all the Universities in the Conference. Our special thanks to Professor AI Wright, Purdue University, George Cavender and William Revelli of the University of Michigan, William Moffitt, formerly of Michigan State University and Frank Bencriscutto, University of Minnesota.
A special expression of gratitude to Ray Gaedke for the graphic illustrations and the final preparation of the material.
The authors will be happy to answer any questions, readers may have on the subjects covered in this book. Write to the publishers enclosing a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
The Role OF THE DRUM MAJOR
The present position of the drum major with marching musical units had its origin in the early European military bands. The title was first earned by the principal drummer who was responsible for setting the tempo, starting the marching beat, sounding the calls and orders (before bugles). In this capacity he was called the drum major or major drummer. As the military music grew in scope and personnel it became increasingly more evident that the responsibility of the office demanded a non-playing director. Although the position has changed, the title for the office has been retained.
The military band was the forerunner of our present day bands. The instrumentation of the band has been limited to those instruments whose design made it possible to be carried and played while marching. Until the present era, band music was military in nature, consisting chiefly of marches. Thus the role of the drum major was limited to military reviews and parades.
DRUM MAJOR QUALIFICATIONS
What does a band director search for in selecting a drum major? What are the qualifications that directors consider as basic requirements for such a position?
Discounting the physical requirements such as height, weight, posture and carriage, the three most important qualifications may be considered as follows: leadership, an adequate and functional knowledge of music, and marching techniques.
Leadership is a matter of learning and growth. As the drum major gains further knowledge and experience in the many phases of his position, he develops the poise, confidence, and insight into the total situation that is essential to being a competent leader. As he learns and practices the duties of his office he gains the assurance and respect of the band and the director, which provides further stimulus for self-improvement and refined leadership.
Leadership may be initiated from anyone of the many ingredients of which it is composed. Perhaps it stems from outstanding musicianship, the responsibility of solo chair, technique and facility. Whatever the initial requisite might be, leadership based upon one single attribute will not survive. It must be supported by many equally important personal characteristics which the aspiring leader must recognize and labor to acquire.
Frequently the drum major has great enthusiasm for the marching band, for his school, his director, and demonstrates this enthusiasm without reserve. Such enthusiasm is healthy and creates spirit among the other students. But unless a drum major has many of the other leadership qualities, he will soon become less effective as a leader. No one, single leadership qualification is totally adequate for the complete role of the drum major.
In attempting to list the leadership requirements of the drum major the following qualifications, though not complete, would be included.
KNOWLEDGE OF MUSIC AND MARCHING FUNDAMENTALS
As a leader the drum major must have earned the respect of the band by demonstrating his knowledge of and ability to perform all of the marching fundamentals. He must also be able to teach as well as demonstrate all movements required for current performances. He must be able to execute whistle and baton signals as well as give the verbal commands.
The drum major must establish himself as being musically literate if he is to assume a position of leadership and authority in the band. He must have a background in music that enables him to communicate musically with the director and the bandsmen and to reinforce the musical function of the marching unit.
His knowledge of music should be based upon experiences comparable to the majority of the students in the band. Such fundamentals as tempo, meter and dynamics should be firmly established within his musical training if he is to direct the actions of others in performing their complex musical and marching responsibilities. He must be proficient at starting and stopping the band, at changing the rate of direction of movement and knowing when and how to give the signals necessary for obtaining the maximum musical and marching results.
Enthusiasm is a contagious element in any leader. It reflects a measure of excitement, of pleasurable experience, of doing something that is important to you, of sharing experience with others. It is perhaps the fastest single factor in sparking group support for the band. The drum major should inspire the band with his enthusiasm.
DESIRE AND DRIVE
Desire and drive are the two ingredients which continue to motivate the drum major after the initial enthusiasm diminishes. Desire is the will to excel, the pride which motivates the individual to self improvement and the constant upgrading of performance standards. Drive is the quiet enthusiasm which continues in the face of reverses and the expressed doubts and objections of the weaker members. Drive is the stick-to-it tenacious quality which ultimately enables one to reach their goals.
Persuasiveness is a quality that few student leaders develop sufficiently. The drum major must direct the action of his fellow students. Commands when given unwisely, are resented by the band members. The drum major who can give signals and commands in such a manner that the band responds without hesitation or resentment toward him, will profit from the cooperative work of the band members. Remember, you can lead a horse to water but -. You can command but, band members respond better when free of "rigid commands."
ACCEPTANCE BY THE BAND MEMBERS
Members of the band must recognize that orders and commands given by the drum major are not directed to individuals in the band but are for the organization as a whole. The drum major must be free of individual prejudices and favoritism. He must strive to gain the support and acceptance of all the band. He must earn the position of leader.
COOPERATION WITH THE DIRECTOR
The director is the final authority in all matters pertaining to the band. The appointment of the drum major is an expression of the director's appraisal of the student's qualifications and his confidence warrants the drum major's fullest cooperation at all times. The drum major must convey a full endorsement of the director's wishes to the band members. Loyalty to the director is mandatory and should represent the same standard of cooperation the drum major expects from members of the band.
Consistency in behavior and approach is mandatory when dealing with problems involving conduct and discipline in the band. The drum major must maintain the same standards of conduct from day to day. Students must know that each practice is important, not a play period one day and work the next day. No special privileges are granted on a personal basis or on "Iax" days. The drum major must strive to maintain the same high excellence of performance standards in marching and playing with everyday consistency.
ABILITY TO MEET EMERGENCIES
Ability to meet emergencies as they develop is a real quality of leadership. " Much of this ability is based upon the drum major's confidence in himself, his awareness of the total situation, his ability to anticipate situations and the knowledge that his actions have the full support of the band and the director.
Sacrifice of time is one of the prices that the leader must pay. The hours spent in self-improvement, in working for the band, in teaching those who need help, in planning thoroughly the limited time allowed for the multitude of tasks to be done; all are part of the sacrifice the drum major must make. The rewards are awarded in the future which is being developed through his action.
THE ABILITY TO TAKE CRITICISM AND ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY
A leader must accept the criticism of his fellow students. They must feel free to give their evaluation of his as well as their performance.
APPEARANCE AND DEPORTMENT
The drum major should represent the finest example of excellence in marching and execution of movements, the ultimate in neatness and appearances and in self-discipline and deportment.
DEVELOPING A STYLE
The drum major as a leader and performer has a dual responsibility to the band as well as the audience. With this in mind he must be able to create or imitate a style which will highlight him as an individual performer without sacrificing his responsibility of leading the band. The drum major must demonstrate that he has complete control of the entire performance. It is obvious that his style must be in good taste, colorful, and yet not interfere with the band or its movement.
A typical example of creating style would be to execute turns, facings, salutes, bows, etc., differently than the band. The choice of differences will classify the style. In each maneuver there are many possible variations. For example, turns may be done in the form of spins, flanks, lifts, skips, hesitations, swings, or dips. Also, in combination with these turns may be added various arm motions, kicks, or strides. A similar approach in creating a style may be applied to other areas -and facings.
Facings may be executed fast, slow, fancy, or plain. They may be executed in the style of a kick, jump, slide, or strictly military in character. In conclusion the important item of consideration is the degree or range of difference between the drum major and the band.
Contrasts in style are important items for consideration in the development of individuality and showmanship. They create attention and interest. Changes in musical style or tempo provide opportunities for originality and contrast in strutting, arm swing, movement and variations in stride.
The male drum major must incorporate masculinity into his individual style. Motions must be strong and definite. Small, weak styles will not gain favorable acceptance. Girl drum majors should incorporate an air of military, free of masculinity. Motions should be smoother and smaller, but never dainty and unprecise.
All styles created must be constructed from basic concepts (military) thus lessening the possibility of complete abstractness. By learning the basic approaches to the concepts of individual style, creating your own style will become very simple and rewarding.
TWIN DRUM MAJORS
Twin drum majors offer great public appeal and interest when they function and perform as a single entity. To obtain the maximum effect of twin drum majors the director has the responsibility of selecting two bandsmen whose physical appearances compliment each other.
The drum majors must make every effort to develop similarity in appearance, mannerisms, movement and uniform dress. Their marching must be so alike in style and precision of detail that they think and act as one while working as a team.
Considerable time must be given to a system for coordinating each movement of the whistle and baton signals. Work on uniformity of baton angle, elbow and knee height, stride and strutting, length of whistle commands an exactness in the execution of signals.
Develop a system of counting such as "one, two, ready go" or a simple "ready-and" spoken by the head drum major. With practice and experience the system of counting may eventually become automatic and even unnecessary.
The disadvantages of twin drum majors are apparent in the time and limitations which are inherent in the development of TWO equally competent and completely coordinated individuals. Additional consideration should be given to conflicts in personality and authority. Some bands may find it prohibitively costly to uniform two drum majors.
Frequently the advantages out-weigh the disadvantages. Twin drum majors provide greater visibility and field coverage in rehearsal as well as performance. They provide an additional rehearsal assistant and a trained drum major in the case of an emergency. When functioning as a team they create a double impression of the role of the single drum major and enhance the audience impression of the performance.
ANALYSIS OF COMPARATIVE DRUM MAJOR STYLES
TEACHING MARCHING FUNDAMENTALS
POSTURE AND CARRIAGE
Posture and Carriage are essential elements in presenting the most desirable image of the drum major. Correct posture demands that the body be erect, shoulders back, head up, chin in, eyes straight ahead, stomach in, buttocks in, arms on the sides with thumbs and fingers together, heels together with toes apart at approximately a forty-five degree angle. Weight is distributed equally on the balls of both feet. AVOID unnecessary tensions in arms and legs, and any locking of the knee.
Carriage implies the use of correct posture when marching or moving. A steady, rhythmic, uniform stride, free of body tension or excessive arm or shoulder movement, with proper balance and distribution of weight upon both feet, will produce a graceful, physical movement reflecting the authority of the drum major, his rank and position of leadership.
A simple method of checking correct body posture is to stand with your back against a wall, heels, buttocks, head and shoulders all touching the wall. The arms should hang freely with the elbows NOT touching the wall. Some practice is often required to eliminate undue stiffness and acquire naturalness.
Correct carriage may also be observed by practicing before a full length mirror or with the assistance of another band member.
The drum major must set the example of good posture and carriage for the entire band and auxiliary units. Posture and carriage are important elements of marching fundamentals and should be stressed in the initial practice sessions.
Motion pictures, slides or snapshots of band members requiring special remedial training in posture and carriage have proved to be an effective method of assisting members to correct their problems. It is equally effective for the drum major to see himself in action or still motion as a method of studying his posture, carriage and technique.
On Count one
(1) Raise the left heel, toe on the ground, weight on right foot.
(2) Bring left knee to position shown in figure 4. Leg should be parallel to the ground, toe must be down and below the heel. Shoulders back, do not lean forward.
(3) Place left toe on the ground in front at distance of required stride (22% inches or 30 inches). Weight on ball of the left foot. Heel should NOT touch ground.
(4) Return left foot beside right foot. Weight equally distributed on both feet. Position of attention.
Practice slowly with count until the movement becomes fluent and natural. Reverse the system for the RIGHT foot by substituting right for left in the instructions.
The drum major is reminded that much of the visual impact of the band's marching is dependent upon the carriage of the individual bandsman. Strive to establish a uniformity throughout the entire band. Individuality will detract from the appearance of the marching unit.
FUNDAMENTALS WITH VERBAL COMMANDS
Fine marching bands are developed from good fundamentals of marching techniques, attention to posture and carriage, good musicianship and a system of drill that every bandsman understands. The drum major is frequently responsible for much of the teaching of the basic marching fundamentals. Such responsibilities necessitates an ability to teach and drill through the use of verbal commands.
Verbal commands are most frequently used with a small unit or when the band is not playing. They are essential for teaching and directing drill movement in rehearsal and for commands such as "AT EASE" or "PARADE REST." All commands consist of two parts: (1) a preparatory command and (2) a command of execution. The preparatory command tells the band WHAT TO DO and the command of execution STARTS the movement. The preparatory command should be long, strong and distinct and directed toward the last rank of the band or the bandsman farthest from the drum major. Such a command demands considerable breath support and a forceful projection. The ease of projection is achieved through proper posture, correct breathing and the adjustment of mouth, throat and vocal production. The diaphragm plays an important role in providing the breath support and intensity to project the vocal commands to the focal point desired. The command of execution must be short, strong and distinct. It must be an order. . . authoritative.
Precision movement is generally the result of a systematic method of teaching as well as practice in the application of the system. Develop a system of giving verbal commands, based upon a count system so that the band as well as you may respond and execute the commands with ease, confidence and precision.
Many bands use a double-command system in which the drum major gives the command twice in a rhythmic count and the band repeats the command and executes the movement the second time they voice the command.
A basic part of any; system of commands is the rhythmic meter. Allow at least one beat or count following any command such as the preparatory or the command of execution. This one count permits the band members to respond with greater precision and security. Most commands require only three counts for the preparatory and command of execution, the fourth count is required to THINK and prepare the response.
The rhythm of command is important in obtaining precision and unison movement. Practice the verbal commands in a strict rhythm as indicated by the numbers beneath the commands. Such practice will be readily transferred to the whistle and baton signals that are basic to the trained drum major. For practice we suggest a tempo or speed of 128-140 beats per minute.
The drum major must give all commands from the position of attention. The commands of execution are printed in capital letters below the count and the suggested rhythm notation.
FUNDAMENTAL DRILL MOVEMENTS
The basic school of the bandsman is divided into two phases, namely: commands from a stationary position and commands to move or change direction in movement. The latter group of commands may be taught with verbal commands or with whistle and baton signals. The drum major may introduce the whistle and baton signals at the earliest opportunity or as soon as the band responds to the verbal commands with an acceptable degree of precision.
TWO VARIATIONS OF FUNDAMENTAL DRILL
TO THE RIGHT
Leader of file 6 pivots on left foot on beat 1, file 5 turns four counts later on count 5, file 4 turns on count 9, file 3 turns on count 13, file 2 on count 17 and file 1 on count 21. Movement is executed with full steps. Uniformity of spacing essential for precision of execution.
TO THE LEFT
Leader of file 1 pivots on right foot (8th count) left foot on count 1 in new direction. File 2 pivots left on count 4, file 3 on count 8, file 4 on count 12, file 5 on count 16, file 6 on count 20. Full stride throughout movement. Interval and distance essential to proper execution.
No slowing of forward motion. Interesting movement to observe. Precision movement of forward and flanks. Easy to count steps. All members of rank arrive on new line at same time.
Reverses the files so that the right flank becomes the left flank of the band. Difficulty increases with number of files and ranks.
The military turn is a 90 degree turn completed
by executing two 45 degree obliques.
The preparatory command is given on the right foot and the entire rank, except the right guide, file 1, executes a right oblique. File 1 executes a right flank, takes two steps in new direction and half-steps 30 paces until the complete rank has reformed. Each file marches in oblique the number of paces designated in the illustration and then executes a second right oblique four counts after the man on the right in his rank. Continue in new direction until arriving abreast of the right guide, half step until complete rank has reformed.
The preparatory command is given on the left foot and the entire rank (except file 6, the left guide and pivot man) execute a left oblique. File 6 executes a left flank, advances two paces in new direction and half-steps 30 paces until complete rank has reformed. Each file marches in oblique the number of paces indicated in the illustration and then executes the second left oblique four counts after the bandsman to his left in his rank. Continue in new direction until arriving abreast of the left guide or pivot man, half-step until complete rank has reformed.
WHISTLE AND BATON SIGNALS
The apparent ease and assurance often observed of the drum major in front of a band creates an impression of over-simplification of the task of drum majoring. In addition to acquiring a complete knowledge of the commands and how they must be executed, the drum major must develop a skill and technique in giving the commands through the use of the whistle and baton. These two tools of the drum major must be so closely coordinated with the basic marching movements that he is free to think ahead and concentrate upon the music and the next command that follows. Such coordination demands many hours of practice, patience and application.
The baton and whistle should function as a team. Although either may be used independently, together they represent the maximum in effectiveness and strength. Any weakness of one phase of the command may be strengthened by an awareness of the other part. They are an audio-visual team.
The baton is the visual component and demonstrates visually the two parts of the command. It is extremely important that the baton be clearly visible when signaling any command. It must be SEEN to be OBEYED.
The position of the baton on the preparatory command indicates (a) the movement or action to be executed or performed (b) the direction of the movement. Some drum majors feel that the preparatory command is of greater importance than the command of execution for the simple reason that you must know what you are to "do" before you start. Thus it is imperative that the baton signal of preparation be executed on as high a plane as possible and that there be no question of the command indicated.
It often requires hours of practice to control the baton so that it indicates accurately the precise angle or degree and direction for each command. Practice in front of a mirror to check your signals. Those hours of practice will also build strength in the wrist and fingers which will increase control and technique.
The control and technique acquired in perfecting the preparatory signal will transfer to a more effective performance of the command of execution. The command of execution must be strong and precise. It should be given in rhythm with the music and slightly before the foot strikes the ground for executing the required movement. There should be an element of authority, command, order, direction, or simply - go!
The choice of baton is optional. Consideration should be given to the style and uniform dress of the drum major and the band. The signal baton is a longer baton and is preferred by drum majors who do not twirl. The twirling baton is shorter with a small shaft and is generally lighter in weight. Give some consideration to the best length for your height.
The whistle is the audio component of the baton-whistle team. It is most effective when the band is not playing. It is often ineffective when over-done. Constant blowing of the whistle by the drum major weakens the effectiveness of his commands.
The drum major's whistle serves two functions. First, to direct attention to the drum major and the command which follows; secondly, to emphasize the command of execution.
The length and style of whistle tone is of major importance. Authorities agree that the preparatory whistle should be LONG, strong, and distinct, and the execution whistle should be SHORT, strong and distinct. The short type of whistle is referred to as a "blast" which implies the character of the sound.
Most large whistles tend to sound a lower pitch which is more difficult to hear when the band is playing. Select a whistle which produces a crisp, even, high pitch. Most music dealers will stock the good, preferred types of drum major whistles or if not, a sporting goods store will have several types of referee's whistles.
In conclusion, the audio-visual team (whistle and baton) must be practiced diligently to obtain the ultimate perfection of coordinated movement and sound. Know the two parts of each command, know how to teach them to your band, practice your coordinated signals before a mirror and execute the signals so that all of the band can both see and hear your commands.
Length - 36 to 40 inches in length.
Shaft - WOOD shaft approximately one inch in circumference. Tip tapers to about 1/2 inch.
Ball - Thin, hollow metal, chrome plated.
Length - Varies from 18 to 30 inches.
Shaft - Steel with chrome finish varying in circumference from 3/8 inch to 5/8 of an inch.
Ball - Most frequently a rubber like molded ball.
RIGHT TURN OR COLUMN RIGHT
Figures 42, 43, 44. Right arm extended overhead with baton pointed to the right. On command of execution, thrust the baton from left to right. The command of execution is on the right foot.
RIGHT TURN may also be COLUMNS RIGHT or MINSTREL TURN RIGHT.
LEFT TURN OR COLUMN LEFT
Figures 45, 46, 47. Opposite of right turn. Right arm extended overhead with baton pointed to the left. On execution thrust baton from right to left. Command of execution on left foot.
LEFT TURN also MINSTREL TURN to the LEFT or COLUMN LEFT.
Figures 48, 49, 50. Right arm extended shoulder high to the right with baton perpendicular to ground. Tip up, ball down. Baton should be grasped approximately two inches from the ball. Command of execution is given by pulling baton toward body and jabbing back to the original position. The jab should be executed as the right foot strikes the ground.
Figures 51, 52, 53. Opposite of right flank. Baton in left hand. The jab of execution should be given as the left foot strikes the ground.
TO THE REAR
Figures 54, 55, 56, 57. Drum major executes a to-the-rear and faces band, then flips baton, exchanging ball end in hand so that ball is ready for preparatory signal (fig. 54). Raise baton on 4th count (fig. 55). Baton is lowered and raised in form of thrust for execution (fig. 56, 57). Command of execution is on right foot. Synchronize whistle and baton movements.
COLUMNS HALF RIGHT
Figures 58, 59, 60. Same as right turn except baton points at 45 degree angle to the right parallel to the ground. Execution on right foot.
COLUMNS HALF LEFT
Figures 61, 62, 63. Same as left turn only baton points at 45 degree angle to the left parallel to the ground. Execution is on the left foot.
Figures 64, 65, 66, 67, 68. Tip end of the baton is extended straight upward. The drum major executes a counter march with baton in extended position (fig. 64, 65) marching toward the front rank of the band. Upon reaching the second rank of the band the signal of execution is given on the right foot with a down (fig. 66) up thrust (fig. 67) of the baton. Drum major continues new direction marching through entire band. If properly executed the five yard distance in front of the first rank will be maintained.
Figures 69, 70, 71, 72. Flip or reverse baton to tip end in hand and ball up at 45 degree angle to the right (approximate area of 2 o'clock). Signal of execution, a down and up thrust, is given on the right foot (fig. 71, 72). To resume the original direction the standard forward march preparatory and execution is given.
Figures 73, 74, 75, 76. Flip or reverse baton to tip end in hand and ball up at 45 degree angle to left (approximately area of 10 o'clock). A down and up thrust serves as the signal of execution which is given on the left foot (fig. 75,76). To resume the original direction use the standard forward-march sequence of preparatory and execution. The left and right obliques are always followed by a forward march.
DIMINISH OR CLOSE FRONT
Figures 77, 78, 79, 80. The diminish front movement is designed to maintain the basic block formation of the band but diminish the width by decreasing the interval between files. The preparatory command consists of two parts. On first whistle:
1. Bring baton up to halt position, right hand at ball end and left hand at tip end.
2. Slide both hands to center of baton to indicate the dual movement of the files. This provides a visual
signal of the movement.
The command of execution is accompanied by the whistle of execution and a down and up snap of the wrists as the right foot strikes ground. No flourish.
EXTEND OR OPEN FRONT
Figures 81, 82, 83, 84. This movement usually follows the diminish or close front drill and is designed to return band to the basic block band formation. It may be used to widen the interval between files when the band is in a formation of ranks and files.
The preparatory command consists of two parts and is given with the preparatory whistle on the right foot.
1. Bring baton above head with both hands at center of baton.
2. Slide hands apart and to end of shaft.
The command of execution is given on right foot simultaneously with the short whistle of execution and a down-up wrist snap of the baton. No flourish.
Figures 85, 86, 87, 88. A movement designed to decrease the width of the basic band by an alteration in the number of files and a corresponding increase in ranks. The interval between files remains constant. Drum major faces band.
The preparatory command consists of two parts. On the first whistle and as the right foot strikes:
1. Baton is above head with both hands extended to ends of shaft.
2. Left hand slides to right as far as possible indicating movement of the files from that side of band.
The command of execution is given on right foot at the same instant with the whistle and a down-up snap of the wrist.
Figures 89, 90, 91, 92. A movement designed to return the band to its basic formation of ranks and files following a decrease in files. Drum major faces the band and executes the following signals on the left foot.
1. Baton is overhead with both hands at ball end of shaft.
2. Left hand moves immediately to tip end of baton on preparatory whistle.
The command of execution is also given on left foot with a down-up snap of the wrist and the short whistle of execution.
Figures 93, 94, 95. Drum major faces band. Baton is held with right hand in middle of baton. Left hand on hip. Execution is on left foot with left hand brought to hip and right hand and baton to carry.
Figures 96, 97, 98. Drum major faces band. Preparatory command; hold baton at eye level with both hands, with palms of hands toward the band. Execution is with whistle and a slight up and down motion or jerk of the baton.
HALT MARCHING AND CEASE PLAY
Figures 99, 100, 101, no flourish. Drum major turns and marches backward facing band. Starting on count one of the last eight (8) counts in the music, he extends both arms upward as in fig. 99. This is the preparatory command. On count seven the command of execution is given as the left foot strikes the ground, both arms are lowered to the sides. The drum major takes one additional step with the right foot as the baton returns to the position of attention. All band personnel must take the additional step and close with the left foot on count nine (9).
The marching band is basically a dual organization in that it demands a knowledge of both marching fundamentals and the rudiments of music. Drum majors are customarily selected from the band personnel who have had previous experience and training in both marching and playing. If any priority is to be given consideration in the selection of a drum major, a thorough knowledge of marching techniques is deemed of greater value. The band director with four years of music specialization in college is generally well qualified to direct the musical activities of the band but may have had little training in the area of marching band techniques.
When the drum major takes the field with the marching band he assumes the responsibility for the music as well as the marching of his group. To fulfill this dual role it is imperative that he have a knowledge of the basic ingredients of music such as melody, rhythm, tempo and form.
An awareness of, and the ability to sing a simple melody with reasonable accuracy as to tempo, rhythm, and phrase should be a minimum musical standard for the selection of the drum major. These skills are necessary for conducting as well as the execution of signals at the proper time in the music or in the drum cadence.
A feeling for tempo is important in setting the speed of the music and in giving effective verbal commands or the whistle and baton signals. Music performed at a tempo too fast or too slow causes many mistakes in the playing of the young, immature bands. The wrong tempo will often effect the precision of movement in the band and frequently result in poor musical performance. Music played at the correct tempo has a comfortable feel to the musicians and generally produces a better musical effect as well as performance standard. It is important that the drum major be aware of the tempo necessary to produce the maximum playing and marching effect.
Rhythm is a simple matter of feeling the beat or pulse of the music. This feeling for the beat is important if the drum major is to stay in step while marching, giving commands or conducting the music. It is equally important in executing the command when given. One aspect of rhythm is meter. Meter is the distribution of the accented and unaccented beats within a defined time allotment. Marches are most commonly played in double meter which consists of a strong or principal beat followed by a single secondary or weaker beat. The left foot hits the ground on the strong beat and the right foot hits on the weaker beat. A feeling for the strong beat is an important phase of musicality and musical awareness.
A musical phrase consists of two, four or eight groups of metric units with principal and secondary beats. A drum roll-off consists of four measures of principal and secondary accents and spans an eight count phrase. Drum cadences are usually eight bars in length, consisting of sixteen counts. Commands given at random or in the wrong place are not as effective as those given at the proper time in the musical phrase.
Basic musicianship as detailed in these last few paragraphs are important requirements of the drum major. He must assume the responsibility for acquiring this information if he is to perform the role of director and conductor of the band.
Unless some previous method has been planned for the band to raise their horns and begin playing, the drum major must signal instruments-up. Bands are often trained to raise their horns on a specific count in the drum roll-off. If no provision has been made for such a movement then the drum major may give the command verbally or with the baton. The method of bringing the instruments-up is the responsibility of the director but the signal for the movement is the sole responsibility of the drum major.
The baton signal for executing the instruments-up starts from the position of attention. On the preparatory or first whistle (long) the baton and left arm are brought to the position of ready (see fig. 102, above). On the second whistle or command of execution (short) the baton and left arm are thrust sharply upward from the shoulders, elbows straight and fingers of the left hand extended (see fig. 103, above).
Upon completing the command instruments-up, the drum major assumes the position of READY (see Port Baton) in anticipation of the preparatory beat which follows and is essential in starting the band to play.
THE PREPARATORY BEAT
The preparatory beat in conducting is the beat immediately preceding the beat on which the band begins to play. In conducting most marches the preparatory beat is an upbeat falling on the second count or weak beat of a measure. It is suggested that the drum major silently count several measures of the meter to establish the correct tempo as well as the beat pattern required before indicating the preparatory beat.
THE FIRST BEAT
If the drum major will observe carefully the conducting of the band director he will notice that the music starts when the hand or baton reaches the bottom of a downward movement. The first beat in conducting is traditionally a downward motion and is thus referred to in musical language as the down beat.
Such a beat presents few problems for musical groups SEATED before the conductor, but for the band standing in a block band or other types of marching formation, the down beat is often too low to be seen by the back ranks of the band. To correct this problem modern drum majors have adopted a method of conducting that places the first beat at the top of the field of beating, thus making the starting beat clearly visible to the entire band.
All music may be classified as consisting of double, triple or compound meter. Marches in two-four and six-eight meter are conducted in double time or two beats to a measure. Waltzes are in triple meter and are usually conducted in three beat patterns unless they are played at a rapid tempo. When the tempo becomes too rapid for conducting in three, the pattern may be simplified to one beat per measure. The one beat pattern is quite similar to the two beat pattern with a slight elongation or pause on the second or down beat.
The four beat pattern is used primarily for dance and popular music and occasionally for processionals. The compound meters such as five-four, seven-four and various meters are conducted by utilizing combinations of the double and triple meters previously presented.
The three basic conducting patterns are presented below with suggestions for their primary use:
BASIC CONDUCTING PATTERNS
In conducting the two beat pattern start the baton at READY position, count silently 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1- and on two give the upward motion for the preparatory beat. Count one should be a strong beat with the baton as high as possible to provide the best visibility for the entire band. The accented first count should be made with a slight downward snap of the wrist. The second beat is the downward move to the low position of rest.
The three count meter is executed with but one new movement. Count one is identical to the previous first count and should be executed with a slight downward snap of the wrist from the high position. Count two is low and to the right of the body at the waist level. Count three moves slightly inward as it proceeds upward into position for the next accented first (one) count.
The four count meter pattern involves only one additional movement. Count one is similar to previous first counts. Count two moves down and slightly to the left of the center of the body at the waist level. Count three moves from the left to the right. Count four moves inward and upward into the position for the start of the next accented first count.
THE HOLD OR FERMATA
The hold or fermata may present some problems to the musically untrained drum major. The hold over a note indicates that the note should be elongated slightly by a brief hesitation or pause in the rhythmic flow of the melodic line. The hold is usually preceded by a slightly larger beat which prepares the band for the pause which follows.
To continue after a hold the drum major must indicate a preparatory beat such as used in the initial start of the music. This preparatory beat is usually indicated by repeating the beat or count on which the hold occurred. For example, if the hold is on the second beat of the measure, repeat the second count and the music will continue on the third beat.
The position of the baton when conducting a hold should always be as high as possible to assure the maximum visibility for all members of the band.
In figures 104, 106, 109 the first beat is shown to be at the top of the field of beating, the second beat is generally the lowest point in the field and the third and fourth beats moving to the right and up respectively.
CUT OFFS AND RELEASES
With a small band or from an elevated position the drum major might conceivably indicate releases with only the left hand. For practical purposes it seems advisable to use the baton or both hands to indicate the cut-offs.
A cut off following a hold is usually executed by a swift downward motion from the position of the hold to position of READY. A slight pause at the READY position is followed by a preparatory beat and the playing is resumed.
Releases are often indicated in the same manner but frequently move without pause into the next beat or into a preparatory beat.
The drum major is frequently required to conduct the music which starts on beats other than the first beat of a measure. Our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner is a good example of this problem. As shown in the figure below the music starts on the third count of a measure, thus the second beat is a preparatory beat for the entrance on the third count. The purpose of the preparatory beat is to indicate when to start and to allow time for breathing as well as setting the release of the tone. Although the taking of a breath before starting to sing or play is a very natural physical act that one takes for granted, it is still a very important part of the start of any musical performance. Thus the preparatory beat becomes one of the most necessary signals associated with the conducting.
Practice starting the Star Spangled Banner in the following manner:
1. Instruments up
2. Position of READY
3. Count (in tempo) 1-2-3-2-out-up
4. "Out" is the preparatory gesture. Band breathes and sets embouchures.
5. Start of the Star Spangled Banner (3rd beat).
The drum major should strive for consistency in the manner and style in which he executes each part of the above exercise. The band will develop a feeling of security that will produce greater accuracy and precision in their playing.
Regimental Drum Major Association © 2003 - 2006