This week I started planning my fall calendar and that means making time for one of my favorite activities, marching band. I have been involved in the activity in one way or another every season since 1985! Most see the activity as something for the heat of the summer and the football games of the fall. This is mostly true other than the occasional Christmas parade. I’m guessing many people view marching band as what happens when you go for your hotdog at a football game, what plays behind the commentators for a college game, or the music you hear in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. There are some decent marching band versions of most upbeat Christmas songs for bands to use for parades. These are usually tags to the end of a season and worked in amongst the prep for the Winter concert. During the regular season the bands work continually on their show, centered on some type of theme. I’d never really considered if a band might choose Christmas music for that show theme. Why the heck not? There is so much potential! A typical show usually has a powerful opening song, a ballad, a feature of some type, and a strong closing anthem with tons of variations possible. Just thinking of all the possible musical combinations got my head spinning. Add to that all the varied visual looks that could come from the color guard! You can just imagine my excitement.
When marching bands want to see the top-level of the marching art they regularly turn to Drum Corps International, DCI. DCI is a summer activity that pulls together young musicians to join a corps and spend many months working 10-12 hours a day on a single 10-12 minute performance. These are performers that are the pinnacle of the activity. They compete all across the country throughout the summer months. Last summer one of the corps, the Cadets, had a show titled “12.25”. You guessed it- a Christmas themed show! The arrangements they share with us are strong versions of many of the Christmas classics we all know and love. There are many videos of the Cadets show on YouTube. Check out a full performance or a full run rehearsal. Either way you can see for yourself just how awesome a Christmas marching show can be. Like what you see? You can check out some links about the overall activity at www.dci.org. If you have a marching band fan in your circle of family and friends you might get some good gift ideas there too. Without a doubt marching band is connected in many ways to Christmas, so maybe the question might be better asked “Christmas is for marching band, right?”