A favorite hobby of high school and college bands, as well as most drum corps. Involving, theoretically, a veritable army of musicians all marching in step, as well as colorguard who are there to whack the pit twirl flags and march better than the musicians, thus drawing attention away from any missteps. Pit, of course, do not have to march, as xylophones and timpani are difficult to lug about.

Marching commands, used in drill-downs and while not doing show, or memorized marching, consist of an announcement and a start marker, usually, but not always, "HUT!" Example: "Squad atten-HUT!" "To the left flank, HUT!" Commands given by an experienced drum major will be preceded by four clapped beats to set the tempo of the command. Each stressed syllable in the call is a beat, and on the beat(s) directly after the marker, the command is performed.

All commands except "At ease" require vocal response, unless it is silent drill. The responses are in the form of numbers: "ONE! TWO!" or simply "ONE!", depending upon whether the command takes one or two beats to perform. The response should be given on the beat(s) immediately following the start marker.


    Call: "Squad atten-HUT!"
    Response: "ONE!"
Attention position requires feet to be flat and parallel, back straight, hands in loose fists at one's sides, stomach in, chest out, shoulders back and squared, and eyes above the horizon. No movement is permitted. Feet should not be together, as that position does not have enough stability, but roughly six inches apart. If instruments are present, they go as parallel to the spine as possible (noting that sousaphones are difficult to parallel with ANYTHING). All percussion marches with sticks, even in drill-downs; at Attention, sticks and/or mallets are clasped in both hands diagonally from left shoulder to right hip.

Parade Rest
    Call: "Parade REST!"
    Response: "ONE!"
Parade rest is a more relaxed posture than attention. Slight movement is permitted, but no talking. At the Parade Rest call, given from the Attention position, one steps sideways with the left foot, placing feet at shoulder width. Hands go clasped in the small of the back. Percussion places sticks horizontal to ground at hip level. Instruments are in "rest" position.
At Ease
    Call: "At ease" "Stand easy"
    Response: None (except a possible sigh of relief)
Talking and freedom of movement abound. Drums get dropped, as does most low brass. However, one must keep one's place and be wary for the call back to Attention.

Standing Commands

These are always called from a position of Attention.

Haces or Hacings
    Call: "Left HACE!" Right HACE!" "About HACE!"
    Response: "ONE! TWO!"
Haces are stationary turns, used to change the direction the squad is facing. A right/left hace consists of a pivot ("ONE!") and step ("TWO!"). An about hace is a toed step, then pivot. To perform a 90 degree hace, twist the foot on the side soon to be faced in that direction from the heel, raising the other up onto the ball of the foot, and on the second beat bring that foot back to Attention. For a 180 degree turn, bring the ball of the right foot about six inches to the left of the ball of the left, crossing right leg behind left, and on the second beat pivot on the balls of the feet. Haces should never twist the body gradually, so everything from the knees up should remain in alignment. Care should be taken by bass drums in close lines.

These can be called from Attention, while marking time, or while marching.

Horns Up     Call: "Horns UP!"
    Response: None
Consists of bringing the instrument from Parade Rest or Attention position to about an inch away from the mouth (or drumhead, or keys). This can be signaled in all sorts of ways, such as a drumroll, or a specific whistle pattern, and is generally assumed when the drum major's hands go up.

Horns Down
    Call: "Horns DOWN!"
    Response: None
The instrument goes from attack mode to a position appropriate to the current state, be it Attention or Parade Rest.

    Call: "Dress right DRESS!" "Dress left DRESS!" "Dress center DRESS!"
    Response: None
This is a two-beat shindig. The first beat is a Horns Up, and the second is a turn of the head 45 degrees towards the direction indicated. One should always know when he/she is center, or left, or right of center. The person in the row being dressed to remains facing forward. Immediately after this, the players should subtly dress to the left/right/center, or adjust their alignment so that they line up with the designated row.

Marching Commands

Note that care must be taken in all movement situations to keep the lines dressed. Use peripheral vision. Never dress the the person behind you, unless you have 360 degree vision.

Mark Time
    Call: "Mark time HUT!"
    Response: Varies, usually none
Marking time is marching in one position, necessary when practicing marching commands in a relatively small space as well as keeping the beat while keeping position in a set. On the first beat after the start marker, lift the left foot. On the second beat, plant it down and start marching in place. This is somewhere beween a position and a march. Percussion should not lift their knees nearly as high as other instruments or they'll bash their harnesses; keeping toes on the ground is often sufficient. This can be called while marching or while halted.

Flankings or Flanks
    Call: "Left flank, HUT!" "Right Flank, HUT!" "Rear, HUT!"
    Response: "ONE! TWO!"
Flanks are marching turns. Rights and Lefts consist of ("ONE!") taking a step in the desired direction with the same foot and ("TWO!") bringing the other foot to join it, and continuing to mark time. The "HUT!" for a left flank is called on the left foot downbeat, and the right foot for the right flank. A rear flank gets a step forward and a pivot on the balls of both feet. This is the only way to turn sharply in a parade situation.

    Call: "Squad HALT!"
    Response: "ONE! TWO!"
Halts will be called on the left foot, so the first beat is planting the right foot wherever it would be if the march or mark time was continuing and the second is planting the left right next to it. Attention is the result.

Forward March
    Call: "Forward MARCH!"
    Response: None
Start, go, move. First beat on left foot, eyes kept above horizon, walking straight. This is the most basic of basic, excepting Attention. Beat is kept in the heels. Body above waist should be motionless. March can be speeded up or slowed down by changing step size. Normal steps are 8-to-5, or eight steps to five yards.

Backwards March
    Call: "Backwards MARCH!"
    Response: None
Rise up onto toes and march backwards. Beat is in the toes. Again, body above waist is motionless. 8-to-5 takes more practice here. It is considered permissable to poke someone in the back with a stick or instrument if they are marching too fast in rehearsal, but not performance.

Traverse March
    Call: "Traverse LEFT!" "Traverse RIGHT!"
    Response: None
This requires keeping the torso pointed towards the front, while the legs point right or left and march that way. A 90 degree twisting at the waist accomplishes this. This not only looks neat, it keeps the more directional instruments facing the audience. Percussion in harness cannot twist like this, and must march sideways, left foot crossing behind right.

Special Commands

Silent Drill
    Call: "Silent Drill!" "Cancelling Silent Drill!"
    Response: Silence
No vocal response for any commands. Generally standing orders during parade.

By the Numbers
    Call: "By the Numbers!" "Cancelling By the Numbers!"
    Response: None
By the numbers is a way to divvy up the commands between beats. When a command is issued in By the Numbers, the drum major will call out the command, and then the beats: "ONE! TWO!" Until the beats are called, no movement should take place, and unless Silent Drill is on at the same time, the squad should echo back the beats while performing them. By the Numbers goes on hold during marking time and marching, as delays between beats are common. However, it is not cancelled, and many a player has been caught out in a drill-down like this.

Looking back, this is way too long and should have been a lot of little nodes. But it's done now.

March"ing (?), a. & n.

,fr. March, v.

Marching money Mil., the additional pay of officer or soldier when his regiment is marching. -- In marching order Mil., equipped for a march. -- Marching regiment. Mil. (a) A regiment in active service. (b) In England, a regiment liable to be ordered into other quarters, at home or abroad; a regiment of the line.


© Webster 1913.

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