Spring is here… I think?
I’m finding that it’s awfully hard to tell in Northwestern PA! I woke up to a powdered sugar coating of snow on the ground this morning. My grandmother always said it has to snow on the daffodils three times before spring is here to stay. Apparently, mother nature didn’t get that message because I think it has snowed on the daffodils at least 10 times by now.
Despite the frigid temperatures and frozen white stuff that we can’t seem to get rid of, we know that the time change for Daylight Savings Time, crocuses popping their heads up through the snow, and Spring or Easter Break all point toward one thing on the mind of most band directors this time of year… “What marching show are we going to do next fall?”
I don’t know about you, but for me, this was one of the hardest, most gut-wrenching decisions I had to make each and every year. I HATED it! So many questions would run though my brain. Would the kids like it? Would they hate it and decide to quit? Would the football audience like it? Would the judges like it? Will it be competitive enough? Will it educate the kids? Will it challenge them musically? Is it a bit too much to tackle with next year’s potential group? Will my staff and boosters get behind my vision? There would be so many restless nights as my brain tried to tackle all the things one must consider when picking a show.
STOP THE INSANITY!!!
Picking a show should NOT be that emotionally and physically draining! Relax… Breathe…
Here are some suggestions that may help you get over those restless nights and save the emotional drain of picking a marching show for next season.
Don’t try and do it alone.
Easier said than done, right? Let’s face it – we band directors tend to have some control issues. However, collaboration can really bring about some great ideas. Get together with your staff members, your arranger, and your drill designer. Everyone can play a role. Brainstorm together.
Don’t have much of a creative team? Are you and the guard instructor the only two staff members? No worries! You probably have a booster parent that is artistic and does your sets or artwork for you. I’m sure you’ve got a few reliable senior band members (maybe even your drum major or section leaders). Kids are great sources for ideas – you just may need to weed through them a bit. Bring in your fellow music teachers – elementary or secondary choral. Sit down at a spring band festival with your fellow band directors and bounce some ideas off of them.
Find a way to get some other brains into the mix! Guaranteed, you will have a better time finding the perfect show idea for your band and have more fun doing it!
Be true to yourself!
Pick something that you are going to like as well as the kids and your audience. Let’s face it, we don’t want to be stuck rehearsing a show day in and day out lamenting our choice of music. Our motivation wanes and the kids will pick up on it for sure. Instead, find something that you can live with for a number of months and that will inspire you to push the kids at rehearsal instead of just going through the motions. We all know those years where everyone and their brother is doing the latest and greatest music from the summer’s big blockbuster animated feature and we just want to scream if we hear the main song on the field or sung by our students on the band bus one more time! Don’t be afraid to take that fad music and “let it go” for a couple of years… or forever.
Find inspiration in the “every day.”
I’ve seen some amazing shows come out of ideas that are so very simple and a part of everyone’s daily life. Some examples include rush hour traffic, spiders, military themes, colors, metals, etc… There doesn’t have to be a big huge story line that people have to follow. Follow the K.I.S.S. method of design. Keep It Simple, Stupid! If you have to write a show synopsis for people to understand what you are doing, you may be overthinking things just a bit.
Don’t be afraid to go to the websites of marching band show designers and companies and see what they have to offer. This will help you in one of two ways. First, you may find a show that you fall in love with and decide to just purchase for your group. Great! There are tons of amazing designers out there willing to help you come up with great shows for you to purchase for your band.
Second, it will help you brainstorm for ideas of your own. DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND ME! Don’t go out and copy someone else’s ideas and make them your own! I would NEVER encourage that kind of unethical behavior. Looking at show themes and listening to music, however, can get the creative juices flowing for you to come up with YOUR OWN ideas. Remember, even the great artistic masters were inspired from great masters before them!
Do you have other ideas that helps take the work out of picking a marching show theme? Join the discussion! Please don’t be afraid to comment to this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m looking forward to hearing from you all about how you overcome the “show-picking blues!”
Good luck this upcoming season!
Ten-Hut Productions LLC