As every marching band director knows, trying to perfect your band's drill show can occasionally feel like herding cats. There are so many different moving pieces to think about at once, and all of them have their own minds and the potential to make mistakes. However, it's this very difficulty that makes watching a tight, well-rehearsed drill so exhilarating.
In order to create the sharp, crisp impression that all marching bands strive for, it's important to emphasize "cleaning" the drill, or eliminating small mistakes that make it look less coherent, throughout the learning process. Here are our tips for doing this successfully:
- Split up complicated sets into smaller groups. When a set is particularly complicated, with multiple groups of students moving in different directions at once, it's harder to point out specific problems to rectify. By splitting up the set, you can make sure you're able to give enough attention to each individual student's performance.
- Don't rehearse bad habits. As soon as you become aware that some students aren't starting or ending on the proper spots, you should immediately correct their mistakes. Repeating the same mistake even a few times causes it to become ingrained and more likely to happen again later.
- Be specific in your correction. It might be tempting to just give simple instructions like "stop crowding each other," but these don't actually convey what has to be done in order to make the necessary correction. Instead, give concrete, detailed instructions, like "Make sure your steps are all an equal length so that you don't end up in a bunch at the end."