Marching word wall, Sept. 27

This is the sixth 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 every few days. 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.


A parade marching maneuver in which the entire band turns right or left at an intersection of two streets. Bands have several options, ranging from the pinwheel or swing-gate turn to the minstrel turn to the more complex Texas turn. According to the Missouri Music Educators Association, whatever turn is used, it’s important to maintain straight lines, which means marchers have to know how to guide. For example, in a swing-gate turn, guiding is based on the outside person, who travels the most distance. In a minstrel turn, guiding is by rank (across), by file (front-to-back), and by diagonal. “Straight lines, good posture, and good carriage will make any turn look better,” writes the MMEA.

Connecting force

Marching band. A video has been produced in cooperation with the Lake Brantley High School band in Altamonte Springs, Fla., saying that at a time in our school history when budget cuts are common and testing reigns supreme, there’s an even greater need for music education. Marching band, it is argued, allows students to participate in a larger enterprise with hyper-connected individuals who share a common goal and encourage the healthy development in each other of skills they can transfer to many other areas. “Band has been more than a class or a club; it’s been a family I can just go to,” one student says. Music, especially at the advanced stages of an excellent high school band program, gives students tools for solving problem in life even after high school or college. “In music, you don’t have time to freak out about anything, so it really teaches you to just let what’s going to happen happen, trust what you’ve done, and just go on from there,” one music educator says.

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.

1 Comment on "Marching word wall, Sept. 27"

  1. If you guide to the inside person on a turn you will leave the outside people to fend for themselves. ALWAYS guide to the outside of a swing-gate turn, keeping in mind that the inside person is the pivot. The outside person sets the pace (a normal sized step) with each person who is closer to the pivot person taking graduated sized steps. Leave the “crack the whip” move for ice-skating. 🙂

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