Have you ever been to a high school or college football game? If you have, you were probably treated to a show at halftime. In addition to the gridiron action, many people look forward to seeing a unique 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. Rather than sitting in a chair, though, marching band members play their instruments while they march and sometimes even dance.

Choreographers coordinate the movements of band members to create a moving piece of art that's a feast for the eyes. Marching bands also often include other performers, including dancers or color guard groups, who carry or twirl flags or other items and dance to tell a story that goes along with the music.

Most marching bands contain a variety of instruments, including brass, woodwinds and percussion. Some instruments you're likely to see in a marching band include flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and drums.

Marching bands have been around a long, long time. Their origins 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 did not have the sophisticated communications devices that exist today. Early military groups used bands to help organize and direct the movements of troops on the battlefield. Musical instruments helped to coordinate complex military movements and keep soldiers together and in line.

As communications devices developed over time, military bands became unnecessary. The tradition continued, however, in the form of marching bands. Marching bands began to focus instead on entertainment and ceremonial functions.

Today, you'll find marching bands playing at sporting events and parades. Marching bands can have a few dozen to several hundred members. In fact, some bands are huge! The Allen Eagle Escadrille — a high school marching band from Texas — claims to be the world's largest marching band with over 800 members!

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