General Answers and Tips for Surviving
Your First Marching Season
Welcome to the Vista High School Regimental Band and Pageantry Corps family! We’re excited to have you. You may be a little confused when you first join, but you’ll get the hang of the routine soon enough. Here are some answers and tips I would have liked to know at the beginning of my freshman year.
What can I expect when I join the Vista High School Regimental Band and Pageantry Corps?
You can expect to:
Have A LOT of fun.
Dedicate a large amount of time and effort to the program.
Make more friends and “family” than you ever thought possible.
Play both challenging and exciting music all year long.
Have a unique experience that you’ll never encounter anywhere else.
Learn about time management, teamwork, and many other skills.
Ask for help from an upper classman and receive it!
What are “dinkles”?
Dinkles are your shiny black marching shoes. Band kids lovingly call them by their brand name (“Dinkle”). You will need to wear them to every rehearsal, every football game, every field tournament, and every marching event that you’re in uniform! They will get dirty and will wear down quickly. Any kind of all-purpose cleaner will shine your shoes nicely, or you can always use some shoe shiner. Don’t forget to clean them before every performance! I also recommend that you buy a second pair after your sophomore (second year) in the program; because you will use them so often, they will wear down quickly.
What is a kid feed?
A group of band parents usually run a kid feed at almost every tournament we attend. The parents provide a meal for members to eat either before or after the tournament (sometimes both before and after). There is always a great selection of food, but if you’re a very picky eater, you may want to bring your own food. Mr. Anderson and your section leader(s) will collect money before the tournament to pay for the expenses of the food. The cost is generally $1 or $2 per person per tournament.
What should I pack for tournaments?
There will always be a short “inspection” list at the bottom of every tournament itinerary that you receive. The essentials are your instrument, a black crew neck shirt (for under the uniform), shorts (for under the uniform), black long (usually knee-length) socks, your dinkles, a changes of clothes (usually a warm set of clothes-it gets cold at night; some people bring blankets as well), a jacket or two, and water. Anyone with long hair should bring all of the hair ties and clips they need to keep their hair up. You may also want to bring your music, dot book, and itinerary just in case you want to check them one last time. You can also bring your iPod, books, homework, or games to keep you busy on the ride. But don’t forget that all of these have to go away after silent bus starts when we exit the freeway!
What’s a dot book?
Each marching member has their own individual number or “dot” on the field, recorded on drill sheets (show dot-to-dot formations of the field show). Every member is required to have their own “dot book” in which they record their positions on the field set by set. Essentially, it helps you remember where you march. Dot books are mini notebooks. You will need to bring them to every rehearsal, so try to buy a sturdier one that won’t fall apart easily. It also helps to hang it on a lanyard; the risk of losing it on the field is higher when you leave it in your pocket, and it’s easier to get out quickly if it’s hanging from your neck.
What should I bring to every rehearsal?
Lots of water (two or three bottles is usually sufficient. You might also want to buy a large reusable water bottle that you can put ice into), your dot book, your music, your instrument, your dinkles, and a white shirt. You will need to remember to bring these to every rehearsal.
How should I mark my music?
The first thing you should do with any of the music you receive (field or concert) is number all of the bars. You’ll want to do this because it may be checked and it will help you get a more precise idea of where you are in the music. Also, during marching season, it is very important that you mark your music with your drill sets. For example, you might write “Hold 8 counts” above the first two four-four measures to remind yourself that you do not move during that set. This will help you mark time according to how the drill actually happens, so you actually practice movement while you’re standing still, too. Don’t forget to mark every set onto all of your music. I recommend highlighting the bars of music that pertain to one set, writing the motion and counts above it, and continuing this, rotating colors. It’s a lot less confusing than just bracketing the sets in pencil.
What works best for keeping what is considered to be long hair under a shako
Always start by putting your hair into a ponytail or a bun. It’s best to put it high on your head, if possible, because it may show under the shako if you have a low ponytail. Then use bobby pins and/or barrettes to clip any loose peices of hair away from your neck and face. Make sure that these clips are strong and will stay in place until the end of your performance. For really stubborn hair, you may need to use some hairspray as well. If you need help, uniform moms are usually willing to assist you. They always come by with combs for a final inspection later. Be consistent with the way you put your hair up; if you aren’t, your shako may not fit the same.
How do you properly hang your uniform on its hanger?
Start first with the bib (pants). Hold them upside down by the creases so that the pant legs are straight. Then hang them over the hanger, and make the two sides as equal as possible in terms of length. Run your hand along the top of where they are hung and make sure there are no uneven bumps of fabric; it should feel flat (this is one thing the uniform quartermasters check). After that, hang your uniform jacket on the same hanger. If it is the Regimental/parade jacket (the jacket with the gold buttons down the front), carefully fold the belt and place it inside the pocket inside the jacket, then button the 1st and 3rd buttons (unless told otherwise by someone in charge of uniforms). If it is the field jacket (the jacket with the gold sash across the front), fasten the black snaps and then attach the end of the sash to the other part of the velcro. If you were wearing marching gloves, put them back into their bag (it should be at the bottom of the uniform bag) and return it to the bottom of the uniform bag. Zip up the zipper of the uniform bag about ¾ of the way unless otherwise told.
What time should I arrive for marching band events?
Early is on time, on time is late, and late is really late. Most people meet at the Band Room fifteen minutes before call time. Plan to leave your house at a time that will ensure you have plenty of time before call time once you get to the Band Room.