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What Are the Different Types of Marching Band Equipment?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 23, 2024
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Marching band equipment goes far beyond the horns and drums commonly associated with the elements of the band. Uniforms, harnesses and lyres are all part of the marching band equipment required to make music. It is common for some marching band equipment to pay homage to the school in the form of banners, flags and horn covers, such as those used on a tuba. Polish for both the brass and silver instruments as well as the musicians' uniforms and shoes are other frequently overlook equipment. Perhaps the most expensive equipment, however, is the bus and trailer required to transport the band and the instruments to and from games, parades and shows.

Before any marching band can take the field and perform, there must be an enormous amount of equipment sifted through and put into place to allow the band to sound and perform at its best. Often, there is a marching band equipment coordinator who monitors and maintains the equipment while the band is traveling to a performance. Uniforms are often complex designs, incorporating several pieces of clothing and accessories into each outfit. The typical marching band hat or headdress is an ornate and elaborate piece of marching band equipment, often complete with feathers and plumes.

Pants and jackets are also important pieces of the marching band equipment that must be maintained in order to present the best image of the school or organization, as well as the marching band. Harnesses to support drums, flags and other equipment are critical components to the marching band and must be carefully maintained to prevent accidental breakage due to improper care and setup. The harness is often the single most important component of marching band equipment on a long parade route or a prolonged marching band show or competition. The harness must fit and remain comfortable enough to allow the player to support the weight of an instrument for the duration of the program.

While many marching bands prefer to memorize the music, thereby giving the band a more professional appearance, many bands rely on a lyre to hold the sheet music for the players. A lyre is a small metal fixture that mounts onto a horn or other instrument to hold the small sheet-music books that the player reads as he marches. For bands that use this piece of marching band equipment, it is crucial that every player has his own lyre. Other marching band equipment such as flags, banners and even the bus that transports the musicians is commonly maintained by volunteer personnel.

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Discussion Comments

By Ivan83 — On Apr 24, 2012

I was in the marching band in high school. I played the tuba. There were times when I needed to have four extra arms to carry all my gear. Between the huge ridiculous costumes and my even more huge, more ridiculous instrument I made an imposing figure walking down my hall. As you might be able to tell, I was not crazy about being in the band.

By jonrss — On Apr 23, 2012

Most large marching bands have a dedicated equipment manager who is responsible for making sure that everything anyone needs gets to the place that it is supposed to go.

As this article does a good job of pointing out, there is a lot of equipment involved with a marching bands. Between the instruments and the costumes it can take up several trailers. On top of this, marching bands are all about planning and precision. Every detail has to be perfect for the effect of the performance to work. In a big marching band it is crucial to have at least one person managing all the equipment.

By backdraft — On Apr 23, 2012

When I think of marching band equipment the first thing I think of are those towering hats that they always seem to be wearing. What is the purpose of those hats? Is it just to catch the eye? It seems like it must be a huge burden to have to march and play when you are suddenly 8 feet tall.

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