Horn Directions and Balance


Sound is the most important element in marching band.  Playing still counts most on judges sheets, and your home football audience will judge you more on what you play and how you play it than how beautiful your drill is.  Therefore, balancing your marching band is equally as important as balancing your concert band.  You cannot balance your marching band from your podium inside or by walking the sidelines during practice.  It must be done from the stands. 

Horn direction plays a very important role in balancing your band, particularly with directional instruments.  It also plays a visual role depending on the design of your uniforms.  Here is a list of directions I use to get the proper sound and visual I need:

  1. To the front side line

  2. To the back side line

  3. To the drum major's stand

  4. To a point in the stands on the 50 yard line, 15 rows up

  5. To the box

  6. To the 50 yard line

  7. Straight in front of the student - forward march style

I use 1, 3, and 4 most of the time.  You have to decide where you want the instruments in order to achieve the sound you want from the band during each particular drill.

I have judged many contests where balance was the primary problem with the bands.  Many bands have percussion instructors on a full time basis and the level of playing is tremendous.  But, quite often, the battery is not balanced to the pit and neither are balanced to the winds.  Bass Drums in large college stadiums, particularly those with artificial turf tend to sound amplified.  You need to be very careful in those situations.  If you use any kind of amplification on the sidelines, it must be balanced like any other section.  I can't overemphasize the importance of balance within sections and between sections.  Attention to this detail is guaranteed to raise your scores at contests.