Have you ever been to a school football game? If so, you were probably treated to a show at halftime. Many fans look forward to seeing a unique halftime act that combines music with movement. What are we talking about? The marching band, of course!

A marching band puts music into motion. Marching band members play a wide variety of instruments. However, they’re much different from groups that play music sitting down. Instead, marching band members play music as they march—or even dance!

Choreographers plan the movements of band members. The band members march around the field, creating various images through their moving positions. It’s like a moving piece of art! Marching bands also often include other performers. There are often color guard groups. They carry and twirl flags or other items. They also dance to tell a story that goes along with the music.

What instruments will you hear at a marching band show? There will be brass, woodwinds, and percussion. You’ll hear snare and bass drums booming the beat. Other band members will march along, playing flutes, saxophones, and clarinets. You’ll hear trumpets, trombones, and even tubas blasting the tune.

Have you ever WONDERed how long marching bands have been around? They can be traced back to traveling musicians who played at festivals thousands of years ago. The first true marching bands, though, were military bands.

Long ago, armies didn’t have trucks or planes. To move long distances, they had to march on foot. Early military groups used bands to help soldiers march together. Soldiers could move quickly and smoothly by marching to drums. They also used drums and horns to organize movements during battle.

Today, soldiers have other ways to get around. But the tradition continues in marching bands. Most marching bands play for entertainment and ceremonial functions. You’ll find them at sporting events and parades. Bands also compete against each other in field shows. 

Marching bands come in many sizes. Some have just a few dozen members. Others have hundreds! The Allen Eagle Escadrille is a high school marching band from Texas. It claims to be the world’s largest marching band at over 800 members!

Would you like to join a marching band one day? You can start by learning to read music. Then, learn more about different instruments. If there’s one that interests you more than others, start learning to play it. For many people, playing music is a great form of self-expression.

Even if you don’t join a marching band, watching them play can be quite a treat. The next time you see one, look closely. Their movement across the field is often very complicated and takes a lot of practice. They work hard to put on some of the best shows around.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

Wonder What's Next?

Get some decoding practice by reading tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day!