Band Terminology

Field Terminology

  • Adjudicator: Another term for “judge.” The adjudicator’s job is to provide evaluation and feedback for a specific performance at a specific event. In a competition setting, the adjudicator may also be tasked to rank groups and help determine awards based on scores they provide.

  • Battery: Marching Band percussion section that carries drums and marches; is comprised of snare drums, bass drums, and tenors (see Tenors).

  • Brass: Trumpets, Mellophones, Horns, Euphoniums, Baritones, Trombones, Sousaphones and Tubas. (All the shiny instruments that don’t have reeds.)

  • Dots/Dot book: A small notebook utilized by marching bands in order to aid the learning of formations on the field.

  • Drill: The actual choreography of the show. It involves the development of the patterns in which the band will march while playing the show music. The drill is written with each band member represented by a specific dot. If a band member is not available for a show, it creates a hole where the dot is and affects the visual aspect of the performance. Each dot is essential to each performance!

  • Drum Major(s): Student conductor(s) who direct the marching band as it plays.

  • Drumline: The entire percussion section of the Marching Band; includes both the PIT and the Battery.

  • Field Show/Showcase: A marching band competition that takes place on high school football fields. Marching bands perform up to an 11-minute show for the audience and a panel of judges. Bands compete based on size.

  • Guard: A group of students who add color and style to marching band performances with flags and other props. Also known as Auxiliary, the term originally used for the flag/rifle carriers who stood at the front of a marching show. This evolved into modern color guard when dance and decorative flags were added.

  • Marimba: Percussion instrument; a type of xylophone.

  • Metronome: Device which adulates and visually represents the tempo or steady beat. Can be purchased at music stores or added to electronic devices using an app. (Think tick, tick, tick, tick.)

  • Mellophone: Marching French horn.

  • Percussion: Any striking instrument, not just drums.

  • Pit: Marching band percussion section (percussion instrument team) that does not march (plays on the sidelines), comprised of instruments such as tympani, marimbas, gongs, etc.

  • Pit Crew: Parents who help move percussion equipment out to the field for competition. All volunteer parents who assist marching band with the loading, transportation, unloading, and setup of band equipment Pit Instruments, Show Props and more at all marching events

  • Quads: Multi-tenor drums commonly mounted in sets of 4-6 drums

  • Section: Each instrument group or unit of the band. (i.e. Flutes, Trombones, Color guard)

  • Section Leader: Appointed by the band directors to be in charge of his/her section of the band.

  • Sectional: A rehearsal called by the Student Leader of each section. All students in a section are expected to attend all Sectionals.

  • Sousaphone: Another term for the Tuba.

  • Tenors: Set of 5-6 connected drums carried by members of the Battery.

  • Woodwinds: Flutes, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, and Saxophone.


Uniform Terminology

  • Bibs/Bibber: Black overall-type pants. The overall-like garment worn under a jacket in standard marching band uniforms.

  • Gauntlet: The cuff that is placed at the bottom of uniform sleeves.

  • Marching Shoes: Special shoes each marcher wears during shows and competitions. Not to be worn during Concert season.

  • Plume: Feather adornment worn on the Shako with the marching band uniform.

  • Show Shirts: A shirt matching with the theme of the performance. Great souvenir for the year.

  • Marching Band Jacket: Jacket worn over undershirt and Bibs/Bibber

  • Sash (buttoned to jacket): A long strip or loop of cloth over one shoulder or around the waist.

  • Shako: A shako is a tall cap with a visor; sometimes tapered at the top.