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Marching Band FAQ

Can parents go to the competitions and other competition tidbits.

Yes, parents can go and are encouraged! Here are the Survival Tips.

What is the Marching Band?

The Mountain View High School Spartan Marching Band consists of students from grades 9 through 12. All students are welcome, even those with little to no music background. The Marching Band performs field show competitions in the fall, at the Homecoming Parade at MVHS, and at the Festival of Lights Parade in downtown Los Altos.


What if I play an instrument that doesn’t march? Or I haven’t played an instrument before?

Most of the marching band students play a band instrument (winds and percussion) and are interested in marching band performance. However, we can find a place in the marching band for anyone who wishes to join! Those students who play an instrument not used in marching band (e.g. oboe) or who are new to playing should talk to the music directors. And, some musicians prefer to march a different instrument than their concert instrument--talk to the music directors.


What makes marching band different?

The ensemble presents a musical show incorporating not just music but also movement on the field and physical interpretation of the music. As members of the ensemble, students will have the satisfaction of commitment, teamwork, and perfecting and performing the show at a high standard of excellence while improving instrumental skills. Marching Band can count as P.E. credit, but does not replace freshman P.E.


Marching band begins with Band Camp before school starts. Band camp attendance is essential for the success of the band, as we learn the show and the music, make friends, and establish the teamwork that will carry us through the season. We march, we play music, we have a great time performing and making friends.

What is Color Guard? What is Winter Guard?

Color Guard represent the music visually, using body movements and dance costumes, and props such as flags, sabers, and rifles.


As members of the marching band, Color Guard members are required to attend all mandatory Marching Band functions and class sessions. Color Guard “season” lasts from August until November with many Saturdays committed to rehearsal and performance.


Winter Guard begins in December, and has rehearsals and performances until April. Like color guard Winter Guard interprets music through body movements and visual performance. However, Winter Guard performs to recorded music, and is the sole performing ensemble on the field.


Is there an audition required to join the marching band?

All musicians are welcome to join marching band. A placement audition is held for the percussion section and color guard.


Do you have to know how to march to be in the band?

NO! Marching experience is not required for anyone interested in becoming a member of the band. We hold New Marcher workshops each August, and will train you on marching technique at band camp.

​What is Band Camp?

Band Camp is the time when all the members, old and new, of the band and color guard get together to learn how to march, play, and perform the music for the upcoming season’s field show and parade.


At camp, students meet new friends, learn marching and playing fundamentals, start learning the field show and parade routine, and have a concentrated time for music, with no outside distractions. The students form friendships with each other, at all grade levels, making them feel welcome before summer ends and high school starts.


For many, band becomes a second family, where there is a support system in place to help students deal with the stresses of high school life. Younger students receive help and wisdom from older members. Older members receive the opportunity to mentor a younger student, offering guidance and support.

How long is the marching season?

The class lasts the entire fall semester, but the marching season starts with Band Camp in August and typically lasts until Festival of Lights Parade in November. Our last field show competition typically occurs mid-November.


Will Marching Band fit in an aggressive academic schedule?

Yes! We have students who are planning to enter all fields in college. The class schedule at Mountain View High School is made to allow these students to take a full schedule of classes (including A.P.) and play in one of the bands during all four years.


Will band and time commitment adversely affect my grades?

Whether you are in activities or not, at Mountain View High School, good grades are dependent upon having a good work ethic and good time management skills. If you are conscientious and organized, band, or any other activity will not adversely affect your grades. If you are not conscientious and organized, grades will be a problem at Mountain View HS, even with no additional activities! The bands' schedules have been carefully developed to work with the school's academic demands. In fact, many of the school's top scholars are in band.

How much of the student’s time does marching band take?

Class meets after school on Monday and Thursday and all day on Saturdays. See the rehearsal calendar for specifics. In addition, section leaders may call rehearsals where their sections work on improving their music performance or drill or other issues.


Although marching band is a time-consuming activity, students can also balance music with other academic subjects by budgeting their time. The most successful students have been the ones who developed the ability to prioritize and plan ahead, so that they can finish all of their necessary schoolwork and contribute uniquely to the band and guard.

What about schedule conflicts?

In order to meet the commitment to the ensemble and learn their part in the performance, students are expected to review the rehearsal calendar and plan to be at all rehearsals. Where there are unavoidable schedule conflicts, proactively talk to the music directors well in advance. Students in the past have been able to manage commitments to marching band and to religious obligations, Chinese school, outside sports teams, Scouts, etc.

What qualities does the student need for marching band and guard?

A positive attitude and willingness to learn, teamwork, and a commitment to the marching band.


What do students need for marching band?

Students should have their own instrument and supplies. Some instruments may be rented from the music department. Marching band uniforms, and specialized equipment (like percussion) are provided by the music department. Marching shoes and gloves can be purchased separately. Students will have the opportunity to try on marching shoes at the uniform fitting in August so that the correct size can be ordered for them. Each family is asked to make a Fair Share contribution towards Instrumental Music operating expenses and towards marching band expenses.


What do students need for Color Guard?

Students will need to provide some personal items and make-up. Color Guard uniforms will be purchased, depending on the field show and parade music selected for the season. Uniform shoes and accessories will also need to be purchased. Each family is asked to make a Fair Share contribution towards Instrumental Music operating expenses and towards marching band expenses.

What is a typical competition day like?

A typical competition day begins in 9 a.m. and ends close to 10 p.m. or later, depending on how far away the show location is. All band members meet at the school for rehearsal and then assist with loading equipment on the truck for the show. Students usually need to pack a lunch. Students travel by bus to competition location. Once at the competition site, the truck and buses are unloaded, students dress in uniforms, and last-minute preparations take place. The band and color guard warms up and then performs the show in competition. Detailed itineraries are sent out several days prior to the competition and include helpful information on packing for the show.


Can parents, friends or alumni attend competitions?

Yes! Parents, families, and friends (such as alumni) are encouraged to attend these events to support and cheer on the students. The IMPA offers many ways to volunteer, so you can help prepare the band for competition and get a behind-the-scenes view.

What do students need to bring to competitions?

Each schedule has a detailed list of what is needed for each competition. Besides their instrument and complete uniform (including black socks, compression shirt, and marching shoes), it is helpful to bring along their band shirt, a change of pants or shorts, a light jacket, other shoes, musical accessories such as reeds or sticks, money for food or souvenirs, and a blanket for when the nights get chilly.


How much does marching band cost?

The band receives no funding from the school or school district to cover transportation to performances, uniforms, entry fees, or instrument repair or purchases. Each family is asked to make a contribution to cover the marching band expenses, including band camp, instrument rental, marching shoes, transportation, etc. In addition, each family is asked to make a Fair Share contribution towards overall Instrumental Music operating expenses. Specific amounts and the breakdown is published by the Music Directors each spring.   

Will the students be required to do fundraising?

Each marching band member is encouraged to contribute to their Fair Share contribution by participating in fundraising campaigns. Each year, there are several fundraising campaigns in which students can participate. Students are not required to do fundraising. Families may choose to simply pay their family’s contribution amount. Any student may participate in the instrumental music programs or any activity, regardless of ability to pay.


Can I be in both Marching Band and other ensembles?

Yes! Many students participate both in marching band and a concert band or orchestra, as well as in Spartan Sound Pep Band. Many also play in jazz band or winter percussion as well.


Do I have to be in a band class to be a member of the marching band? Is that the same for the Spartan Sound Pep Band?

Anyone in marching band must be enrolled in the marching band class. Color Guard students must also enroll in Color Guard. Winter Percussion students and Winter Guard must enroll in their respective classes. Pep Band members do not enroll in a class; they register with the Music Directors.

Can I join Marching Band as a senior?

Most kids join as a freshman, but, we’re glad to have you join whenever you're ready!


Is credit offered for instrumental music classes?

Yes. Some of the classes count towards your arts requirement, and marching band can fulfill your P.E. requirements. However, you still have to take Freshman P.E.!

Who do I contact if I have questions about?

We’d love to answer your questions or connect you to the right person! Contact: the Music Directors or the IMPA President.


How can I help with the music program and music events?

We have many ways to volunteer, from leadership positions to donating cookies. See the volunteer sign-up sheet, or contact the IMPA Volunteer Coordinator.


How large is the marching band?

The band enrollment varies by year. This year we are about 90 students. Our classification is dependent on the size of the band and will determine with whom we compete in field competitions.

Can I participate in Winter Percussion even if I don’t play a percussion instrument?

Perhaps. We welcome beginning percussionists to join the group. We hold auditions in December, and beginning students will be placed in the group based,on capability and space available.

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