Researching Your Band – Drill Design Pt. 2

Scott Kurtzweil

If working with a new marching ensemble, the first step in putting together a successful field show is to research the program as much as you can. For me, this information gathering is done through three main methods.
I.                    Director / Staff Meetings –
Designing a show that fits well within the curricular goals of the director(s) as well as community expectations is one of the keys to a successful fall. Meeting with the director and other marching staff (including wind and percussion arrangers as well as the marching and color guard staffs) prior to any specific design work helps ensure that these goals are met and that the entire design team has a voice in the shows construction.
Other important information I can gather from these initial meetings includes:
·        A thumbnail sketch of program history and traditions.
·        A general feel for the strengths and focus of the various caption designers.
·        A sense of the financial and logistic support provided by the boosters and/or school administration.
II.                 Information Sheets –
Used in conjunction with the staff meetings and interviews, I have the band director or area caption heads fill in a section information sheet (see sample below). Throughout the design process, I continue to refer back to this sheet to ensure I write to the strengths of the band.
Section Size
Movement Score
Special Information
3 Dancers
III.               Viewing Video –
The final step in the process of information gathering for me is to view video. I like to be able to view shows from the previous three years.
The information I can gather from videos includes:
·        A tangible sampling of the ensemble’s performance strengths and weaknesses. (The three year sample also shows me in which direction the ensemble may be trending with regard to these strengths and weaknesses).
·        An excellent resource regarding design elements to which the students have been exposed as well as their level of proficiency with each.
·        A solid idea of crowd reactions to design elements. This will help me design within the parameters of what the local community wants and expects from its marching band.
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