FAQs: Marching Band & Color Guard

Home » Ensembles » FAQs: Marching Band & Color Guard
What is the time commitment for participation in Marching Band/Color Guard?

Marching Band and Color Guard meet during regular class periods, as well as twice a week after school and from 9 to 5 on Saturdays, for a total of around 18 hours of practice a week during the fall semester. In addition, participation in Friday night field shows requires 5-6 hours. On competition Saturdays, students rehearse in the morning, travel to the competition site by bus in the afternoon, compete, and then return home at night, for a total of 13-15 hours, depending on distance traveled.

That's a huge commitment. What about homework? Can a student really do all this and still succeed in academics?

ABSOLUTELY. The discipline, time management, and overall striving for excellence developed in Marching Band/Color Guard serve as tremendous assets in academics as well. Marching Band/Color Guard students become very efficient in the fall season, as they simply have less time to waste. Overall, grades remain stable — in fact, the anecdotal evidence from parents is that students actually do better in the fall semester than they do in the spring.

Is there time for music lessons in the fall while enrolled in Marching Band?

Yes, and it is time well spent, as private instrumental lessons can be tremendously beneficial. Students may also arrange for additional practice time in the band room during the daily Tutorial period.

How much and what kind of academic credit do Marching Band/Color Guard students earn?

Performing Arts credit: Both Marching/Concert Band and Color Guard students may earn up to 3 years of Performing Arts credit (in grades 9-11).


P.E. credit: As of 2013-2014, graduation from LGHS requires a total of two years of P.E. credit: one year of Health & Fitness and one year of additional P.E. courses, which may be fulfilled in Marching Band/Color Guard. Students may not earn P.E. credit in Marching Band or Color Guard during their freshman year; instead, freshmen are required to earn that year of P.E. credit by taking Health & Fitness. However, after freshman year, in grades 10-12, Color Guard members may earn up to 3 years, and Marching Band members up to 3 semesters (fall semesters only), of P.E. credit. Thus, a student who remains in Marching Band for at least two fall semesters in their 10th-12th grade years will fulfill the P.E. requirement.


Applied Arts credit: Both Marching/Concert Band and Color Guard students may earn up to 1 year of Applied Arts credit in their 12th grade year.

What happens at Band Camp?

A lot! Band Camp is held on campus for Marching Band and Color Guard students and usually takes place in the two weeks immediately preceding the start of school. The first week generally consists of morning sessions for all personnel, with additional afternoon or evening sessions for various instrumental sections. The second week consists of all-day sessions, includes several overnighters, and concludes with a Field Show Preview performance for parents. Click here for more info: Band Camp

What is Pep Band, and how is it different from Marching Band?

Pep Band is made up of the same personnel as Marching Band, with the exception of front ensemble members (mallet and auxiliary percussion), who, due to the size and bulk of their instruments, generally are unable to participate.


At football games, Pep Band performs in the bleachers/stands rather than on the field. Typically Pep Band arrives at a game in full Marching Band uniform and plays lively music such as the "fight song" in the bleachers until halftime, when the full Marching Band takes to the field to perform the choreographed field show. In the 3rd quarter, band members leave the field and change into Pep Band attire of Music Department polo or T-shirt, band jacket, and jeans, so that they can enjoy snacks without getting their uniforms dirty. They then return to the bleachers in the 4th quarter to play pep music for the rest of the game.


The ensemble also performs in Pep Band attire at campus rallies and other school functions. Only formal Marching Band attire is permitted at field show competitions.

What are Pit Pops?

Pit Pops are Marching Band parents who help students transport the large pieces of frontline "pit" equipment — mallets, auxiliary percussion, and electronics — between the storage areas and the field. Their assistance is also needed at field show competitions, where movement of equipment on and off the field is timed and time violations incur scoring penalties. Pit Pops are easily recognized by their bright orange Music Boosters polo shirts and Pit Pop baseball caps.

Do Marching Band/Color Guard parents sit together at football games?

Yes! You’ll find them on the north side of the band, near the 50 yard line, many wearing orange Music Booster shirts and/or Pit Pop caps — and enjoying baked potatoes and chili purchased to support the Music program! When the band leaves the bleachers in the 4th quarter, parents help roll up and bag the band's chair pads and return them to the band room.

Evening practices are scheduled until 8:00. When should parents expect to pick up their student?

Though the Monday and Wednesday practices generally end on the field or front lawn at 8:00, students are usually not ready for immediate pickup. First they must head to the band room, assisting with equipment return (pit, percussion, flags, etc.) along the way. Depending on a student's level of assistance, sociability, and/or exhaustion, parents may expect to pick them up between 8:01 and 8:20 or so. Cell phones are very useful for working this out.

Do Marching Band students need ear protection?

Earplugs are not required, as our best information is that decibel levels for outdoor performances are generally acceptable. However, depending on where a student is in the drill and what instrument they play, they may want to avail themselves of ear protection. Etymotics ear guards have been recommended by professional musicians, rockers, and former Marching Band students. The basic models are economical, and are as useful at concerts as they are in marching settings. 

What is the procedure for students who need to take medication, particularly during the long practice days, band camp, and competition days?

Students handle their own medications. At this age, they are much more responsible about taking their inhalers or pills than the parent volunteers we assign to remind them. Medication information should be kept up to date on the Medical Information form that parents file as part of the Marching Band paperwork packet. If you need to update it, please contact a Music Boosters co-president: bill@lghsmusic.net or eleanor@lghsmusic.net.

When and where are competitions held, and how do they work?

Click here for schedules, locations, directions, results, and more: Marching Band Competitions

Why do girls need to wear special apparel for competitions?

Since band students change on the bus in a coed situation, all girls in band must wear boxer shorts and sports bras on competition days. Color Guard members change on their own bus and do not need to wear boxers, which would be too bulky under their costumes.

What is the WBA Championship?

As a registered AAAA (Class 4) member of the Western Band Association (WBA), the LGHS Wildcat Marching Band & Guard participates in the WBA's annual championship in Fresno. In 2017, this will take place the weekend of 11/18-11/19.  Marching Band and Color Guard will compete in preliminary class rounds on Saturday 11/18 and, if eligible to advance, will go on to compete in the grand championship on Sunday 11/19. If ineligible to compete in the grand championship, the LGHS students will remain onsite as spectators.  

What happens after football and marching competition season ends?

Marching Band members continue on in Symphonic Band or Wind Ensemble ("concert bands") for the rest of the school year, usually on the same instruments they played in Marching Band but sometimes learning new ones. Freshman percussionists are assigned to the Percussion Techniques class, which is also open to other instrumentalists who wish to learn percussion. Concert bands rehearse in class during the regular school day, and also perform at school and community events and compete at adjudicated music festivals. Due to the reduced time commitment as compared with Marching Band, some members also participate in winter/spring sports, or join LGHS's award-winning Winter Percussion, an afterschool activity offering additional performance and competition opportunities.


Most members of Color Guard remain enrolled in the second semester (then known as Winter Guard). Members continue working on their routine and skills during regular class time as well as in afterschool rehearsals with their coach. They also perform at school and community events.