It is common for most schools to have a marching band to exhibit school spirit and provide an outlet for students wishing to pursue music as an extracurricular activity. The different types of marching band shows include parades, marching competitions and half-time shows during football games at universities and high schools. Different types of marching bands, from military to show bands, vary in their marching band performances. While most marching bands allow members some freedom of movement during performances, there are others that have strict rules for marching and music playing.
Marching band shows do not necessarily consist of high school or college members, as there are many shows that allow organizations of community members who can play an instrument and have a desire to march. With a show band, each member must memorize a certain number of musical pieces to play during a marching show. Through practice and rehearsal, the band performers will be able to memorize their movements on the field or show arena to accomplish a certain degree of alignment with other band members. Band members often make different shapes on the field through their movements and alignment, which are seen clearly when viewed from the stands above.
Military marching bands, and the shows they perform in, have stricter rules than show bands, requiring their members to have a more rigid stride and behavior when marching. All military marching band shows require members to march in a straight line at all times, compared to show bands which allow more flexibility in the shapes they form on the field. These types of marching bands are featured in military parades for their ability to march straight forward and carry a steady tune. Although not as popular, military style marching band shows continue in a small number of schools and organizations.
Most marching bands perform in annual parades and half-time shows during football games, as well as in marching tournaments where the bands compete for ratings based on musical performance and marching abilities and skills. With parades, practices are kept to a minimum, as most bands keep in a straight line across a path without a large variety of movement. With competitions, marching bands often rehearse for hours every day to memorize set marks each member has to hit, and to help integrate the memorized music with the marching. Marching competitions often result in more freedom of musical and movement choice, making them less mundane than parades.