Band directors are often viewed as the leaders of marching bands – and rightly so. During trips with the marching band, you are in charge. This means that you inherit the responsibility of taking care of others on the trip, namely the band members. Here is a quick checklist to help you have a successful trip with your marching band:
1. Account for every band member making the trip
While this tip should be the most obvious, it is worth repeating. As the band director, you are in charge of each and every member of your marching band. That said, it is a good idea to know where everyone is at all times. Depending on the trip, you may have to stay overnight at a hotel or other accommodation. If that's the case, make sure you have travel arrangements worked out to and from the venue at which you'll be performing.
2. Plan practice time for your band
As band director, you surely know how important it is to practice leading up to a big performance. If you and your band are going to be putting on a show at an extra-large venue or in front of a larger-than-normal audience, it's probably not a bad idea to get your band members acclimated to a bigger stage. See if you can find the time to schedule practice for your band at the venue itself. The more accustomed your band members are to the larger stage, the fewer nerves they will have when it comes time to perform.
3. Let your band members experience the cities you are traveling through
So much of the appeal behind trips for the marching band is getting to see so many remarkable places on your travels. Don't deprive the band members of that luxury! Plan on organizing events in the cities you are in with your entire band. If you're putting on a show in Cleveland, for example, consider scheduling a trip for the whole band to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If you're performing during halftime at a sporting event, make sure you allow members of the band to watch the first half and the second even after their performance is done! Not only is it a great experience, but you'll also help the team by adding a large number of fans to the stands.
4. Surround yourself with trustworthy chaperones
Although you're the one with the most responsibility on marching band trips, that doesn't mean you have to do everything on your own. Instead, pick out a few teachers or parents to accompany you. Whether you're taking students on a band trip at the junior high or high school level, you're going to be overwhelmed if you're tasked with monitoring the entire band by yourself. Other adults can be incredibly helpful when it comes to policing band members. The more authority figures you have on the trip, the more eyes you will have at your disposal.
5. Use local resources
"Ask the concierge for advice on where to eat."
Don't be afraid to tap into the local resources at your disposal. When it comes to looking for things to do around the local venue or organizing transportation in the area, individuals who live and work in the local area usually know best. If you are staying at a hotel, start by asking the concierge for advice on where to eat, what to see. and how to get along. Most likely, you've been in communication with someone in charge at the venue at which you'll be performing. Pick his or her brain when it comes to fun ways for your band to spend time. Even if you're looking for a pizza joint to take the band, individuals who call that area home will point you in the right direction.
6. Consider a curfew
Depending on your performance and practice schedules, it may be in the best interest of your band to have a curfew. Set a time that members must be in their rooms and hold them to it. You can either call the room or call individual band members to ensure they are where they are supposed to be. It can be helpful to set up a buddy or roommate system. Every band member on the trip should be held accountable by one of his or her peers – not only will behavior improve, but it won't take as much time to track everyone down.
7. Know your band
Since you know most of the members of your marching band already, you probably have a good idea or how much (or little) supervision they will require while on the road. Assess the state of your band and be realistic about expectations. If you have a number of trouble-makers, be sure you set clear ground rules right off the bat. If you need to punish anyone for misbehaving, do it. Setting a standard for good behavior is essential, especially while on the road.