Marching word wall, Sept. 22

This is the fourth part in a multi-part series defining key terms about marching bands. Although marching band participants know exactly what most of the terms mean, many fans, including their parents, are baffled by the discussion sometimes.

This word wall will be posted on our main marching band page, here, for public information, and we’ll add two or three words a day. However, it’s also part of a contest. If you can improve on any of the definitions on the word wall, click on the word and submit a redefinition as a comment to the blog post.

If we think your definition is better than the one given—and it probably will be—we’ll update the definition on the word wall and give you credit. If you’re an Illinois marching band student who enters a winning redefinition, you may also win a prize, to be determined at the end of the marching season.

Eight and eights

A marching exercise, designed to teach precision, in which marchers mark time (q.v.) for eight beats and then march forward for eight beats. The exercise is repeated over and over, and it is said that if you can do 10 eight and eights in a row while holding a glass of water as you would an instrument and still drink the water when it’s over, your body control during corps-style marching is pretty good. A video of the Santa Clara Vanguard, doing exercises at a summer camp in Utah in July, with eight and eights at the end, can be seen on YouTube, here.

Mark time

Marching in place, without moving any distance forward, backward, or sideways. You lift your legs as if you’re marching, but you put your feet back down in the same place each time. Some bands have different versions of marking time: (1) Low mark time uses a step in which the heels are raised as high as possible while keeping the toe on the ground at all times. In this case, the beat is struck in the heel, which hits the ground every beat. (2) High mark time uses a step in which the leg is raised so that the thigh is parallel to the ground and the foot is at the level of the opposite knee. The toe is usually pointed toward the ground. But whichever step type is used, there should never be any movement above the waist.

Six and six

A format for the salute given by drum majors in a parade in which the salute begins six steps before the DM reaches the reviewing stand and is held for six steps after passing in front of the reviewing stand. The Drum Majors of Southern California define this as the ideal salute for use by a drum major in a parade.

We welcome suggestions for new words for the word wall to help people understand marching band at a more appreciative level. To prevent spam, we can only accept suggestions for new words or redefinitions of existing words as a comment to blog posts. If your definition’s good, we’ll replace the word wall definition with yours and enter your name in a contest that may involve the awarding of prizes at the end of the marching season.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more biographical information, see the About page.