How to Survive Band Camp ~ 2016

bandcamp16With our band camps just a week away, I’m sure there are a lot of rookie students and parents wondering just how to prepare themselves for band camp. With that in mind we wanted to re-share this article that provides a short list of tips that we complied from several insightful articles that should help our newcomers and veteran band members better prepare for this year’s band camps.

  • Be prepared. Make sure to have water, instrument, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.
  • Early is on time.  Always arrive a few minutes early. Remember that you need time to gather your things and get to the practice area.
  • Try your hardest. Band camp will go a lot smoother if you make a decent effort at marching and playing your instrument.
  • Be optimistic and don’t complain. Complaining or bellyaching is extremely annoying to everyone and ultimately unhelpful.
  • Make friends. Get to know your classmates, your section, whoever is sitting or standing next to you in formation. You have band and music in common already, but do not talk when you’re are setting up formations or going over your music.
  • Learn the show. Now is the time to practice. Practice as you would like to perform- learn your formations, music, rhythms, etc.
  • Take care of yourself. You’ll perform better and feel better if you take care of your body. Marching band is a sport!
    • Stretch. Marching band can be demanding during the summer, stretch as you would in preparation for any other strenuous activity.
    • Wear sunscreen and a hat. That sunburn won’t feel good tomorrow, and it’ll spare you sock tans, glove tans, and drum harness tans (somewhat). Remember to reapply every 2 hours or so.
    • Wear chapstick that protects against the sun. Sunburned lips are not fun to play an instrument with, especially for brass players.
    • Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses will help protect your eyes from UV rays and block annoying glare.
    • Drink plenty of water. This means water and/or Gatorade/Powerade. Soda and juice will dehydrate you. Avoid drinking milk or eating dairy products. The heat will cause it to curdle in your stomach and make you nauseous.
      • Remember to start hydrating in the days leading up to band camp too. This preparation is very important.
    • Eat healthy foods! Don’t just eat a pop-tart for breakfast on your way out the door; marching a lot is a very physical activity, especially if it’s for the entire day. Also remember to eat a healthy lunch. Fried foods aren’t good for you anyway, but if you eat unhealthy fast food, you will regret it later.
    • Wear lightweight clothing and comfortable, athletic shoes. Dress appropriately for the weather and being on your feet for long periods of time.
    • Smell good. No one likes a smelly band person. Deodorant helps, and should be available in case you need a quick refresh.
  • Learn how to wear your uniform and try it on. This way you can avoid disasters before an actual show at a competition. Minutes before your first show is not the time to learn the intricacies of tying your citation cord, discover that your pants are too short or too long, or learn that nobody ever issued you a plume.
  • Care for your instrument.
    • Insert the brass mouthpiece or woodwind part firmly enough that it doesn’t fly out when snapped up and down.
    • Avoid getting a woodwind wet, especially the pads. If your instrument does get wet, use your cleaning cloth to dry it after practice.
    • Oil your valves or slide before practice. It’s much harder from mid-field.
    • Learn the proper way to set your instrument down: not on its keys or delicate valves. If you must set your instrument on the ground, set it with the others from your section, it might help save them from a careless foot.
  • Get some rest. Band camp can be strenuous, and it’s easier if you’re well rested.
  • Be respectful and courteous towards band directors and assistants. Often they are busy or stressed, so be understanding.
  • Remember that everyone is at band camp to learn. If you’re a newcomer, don’t take it personally when an instructor gives advice. Remember, they’re trying to help you look better in performance. If you’re a returning member, help out newcomers and be patient with them. You were a rookie once.
  • Have fun! At first, band camp may feel completely insane. However, nothing can compare to the feeling of marching your field show at halftime with all of your friends. You’re going to make tons of friends.

Tips & Warnings

  • Woodwinds and brass should not play their instrument after eating or drinking sugary stuff (like Gatorade and Powerade). It’s fine to have a snack during breaks, just make sure to wash it down with water.
  • Never handle or play somebody else’s instrument. You will be held accountable if it gets damaged.
  • If you are given a drill sheet/card with your formations on it or music do not lose it.
  • Respect upperclassmen, chances are they’re right and you’re wrong.
  • Many people can overheat during band camp if it’s hot outside. If you start to feel fatigued, dizzy, nausea, you may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Tell a section leader, drum major, or staff member immediately. Get to some shade and get some water if you think this is happening to you.
  • Don’t talk when the band director, staff, drum majors, or section leaders are talking. Not only will this irritate them, but it will distract people around you from what they’re saying, which could be very important. If you need help finding your drill spot, quietly raise your hand and someone will gladly help you. Marching Band is very military-esque. When the director is speaking, you do not. When you need to snap to attention, you snap. Take it seriously, many skills that you learn in this activity can be applied to every day life!

I hope you find this article helpful as you prepare for this year’s band camps. Remember if you have any specific questions about either band camp, you can contact Mr. Carr at: or the Band Boosters at:

More posts will be coming later to define each week’s schedule and provide volunteer sign-up info.


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