Most schools have a marching band to show school spirit and give students who want to pursue music as an extracurricular activity a place to do so. Parades, marching competitions, and half-time shows during football games at universities and high schools are examples of different types of marching band shows. The marching band performances of various types of marching bands, ranging from military to show bands, differ. While most marching bands allow members to move around freely during performances, others have strict marching and music-playing rules.
Marching band shows do not have to be made up of high school or college students; many shows allow community members who can play an instrument and want to march to participate. Each member of a show band must memorize a certain number of musical pieces in order to perform during a marching show. The band members will be able to memorize their movements on the field or in the show arena through practice and rehearsal in order to achieve a certain degree of alignment with the other band members. When viewed from above, band members frequently create different shapes on the field as a result of their movements and alignment.
Military marching bands, as well as the shows in which they perform, follow stricter rules than show bands, requiring members to march with a more rigid stride and behavior. Unlike show bands, which have more flexibility in the shapes they form on the field, all military marching band shows require members to march in a straight line at all times. These marching bands are used in military parades because of their ability to march straight ahead while keeping a steady beat. Military-style marching band shows are still performed in a small number of schools and organizations, despite their declining popularity.
Most marching bands take part in annual parades and half-time shows at football games, as well as competing in marching tournaments for ratings based on musical performance and marching abilities and skills. When it comes to parades, practice is kept to a bare minimum because most bands march in a straight line across a path with little variation in movement. Marching bands often rehearse for hours every day before competitions to memorize set marks that each member must hit, as well as to help integrate the memorized music with the marching. Marching competitions often allow for more musical and movement variety than parades, making them less mundane.