How hard is it to get into a college marching band?
When students want to enjoy the thrills of college, learn from rigorous studies, but also have a thriving social life, joining the college marching band at any school is a great group to join for inclusion and fun. For those looking to join a college marching band, what should be expected, and how hard will it be to get in? After doing extensive research, here are the best ways to prepare for and hopefully get into any college marching band!
College marching bands are typically difficult to get into. The difficulty depends on the number of other applicants and the band’s prestige. The better the marching band, the harder it is to get in. To get in, most bands require applicants to play an audition piece and demonstrate marching ability.
What are the hardest parts about auditioning for and getting into most college marching bands? What can be expected if one is to get accepted into a college-level band? Let’s go over what to be aware of and prepare for when shopping around for and auditioning for college marching bands!
Smart Steps to Take Before Joining the Band
First things first is to conduct smart, sensible research! Each college is very different depending on where in the world or in the United States it is. Some colleges, unfortunately, don’t even have a marching band to join!
On the positive side, most colleges do have marching bands to entertain students with on-campus parades, game music during football or basketball games, and fully choreographed marching band numbers during halftime shows for sports seasons.
Clearly, each marching band is very unique, so consult college websites and call up music departments to learn if the college has a professional marching band in the first place, what instrument positions they are looking to fill, and what their auditioning material consists of.
College Level Auditioning
Anyone who has participated in high school marching band, or even high school concert band, usually knows that college-level playing is different and more intense than high school level. However, as mentioned before, each college is very different, so the marching band audition will vary depending on where one attends college.
The Big 10 Marching Bands are some of the most famous, prestigious bands in the country and will thus have the hardest show music to play and the toughest drill to march. On the other hand, smaller or lesser-known colleges will correspondingly have more laid-back auditions usually!
No matter the level of the college band, it is important to be well-prepared before an audition. (Source) Make sure to find the musical pieces expected to be played beforehand by finding them online or by contacting the band director in person, by phone call, or through email. Next, go into the audition with an open mind. Be humble and open to any feedback that may be given during or after the audition, and show that improving and learning are a priority.
Finally, practice having a good, positive attitude and try to display this during the auditioning process. A musician and marcher need to be a team player and hopefully not a musical diva, so prove this to the judges!
This will all show great dedication and seriousness to the band leaders and go a long way in proving one is eager and ready to work hard in the band. Any marching band is a team sport, so practice and work hard, have fun, take deep breaths, and take the audition one step at a time!
Keep in mind, some colleges will have multiple levels of auditions. This means that some auditions will be split into two days, one day for performing and playing college-level musical pieces, and another day for showing mastery of marching drill moves satisfactorily. Every college is different, but be ready for any combination of this type of auditioning of skills for the process.
Some college bands will not even require an audition, some opting for students to send in music demos in place of traditional auditions. If this is the case, follow all directions for what kind of demonstration videos to send in, and do your best to perform the highest level of sheet music possible. (Source)
After the window of time, for the auditioning or demo send-in has closed, students will likely be notified soon by the director or band leaders on if they have been selected for a specific marching band position.
Levels of Difficulty and What to Expect
If a college marching band is smaller or less serious, its level of difficulty will probably not come close to the level of other colleges. This also applies to the level of difficulty for their auditioning process too!
If a college is one of the top 10 marching band colleges, both the process of getting into the band and staying in the band could be grueling and exhausting endeavors. This is because memorizing tough music is mentally difficult, complicated marching is exhausting to execute and practice over and over, and marching band practice can take up a lot of time from other college activities, classes, and studying.
This is why it’s helpful to participate in high school marching band before jumping into college-level band, to get a taste of how easy or hard marching band is for the student personally. If someone is good at time management and multi-tasking, they will probably enjoy the fun, education, and challenge that college-level marching band imparts.
Most bands have mandatory hours of practice multiple days per week, expect practicing of music parts outside of marching practice and will want all students to play all music correctly.
Learning about College Bands Online
This article is a great overview of the experience to be expected in marching band. In order to prepare the best and to get a sense of what it’s like to be in the band, however, make sure to refer to online discussion boards on Reddit and personal YouTube videos from students of the marching band itself if possible to learn even more about the marching band in question.
The below video is a great example of more details for college marching, and how high school and college marching bands can be different!