Colonels Prop Crew

Marching competitions & etiquette

General rules

Most competitions have both a preliminary and final round.  In prelims, we only compete against bands in our own class. There are dedicated judges for Music Performance, Visual Performance, Music Effect and Visual Effect.  With all judges’ scores combined, there are 100 possible points. (Color Guard and Percussion are judged for caption awards, but these are not included in the band’s score.)

A total score of 80 or higher earns a Distinguished Rating. Distinguished Ratings were once an automatic qualifier for State, but they no longer determine eligibility.

The highest scoring bands from prelims advance to Finals. Scores from Finals performances determine each band’s rank for the competition. Second place overall wins the Reserve Grand Champion title, and the overall winner is dubbed the Grand Champion. Scores are posted within a day or two on

Audience etiquette

Thanks to Rick Gardner, Scott Leatherland and Rachel Rentschler, whose editorial inspired these guidelines.

The audience is one of the most important elements of a marching music performance. It would be pretty disappointing to invest months preparing and fine-tuning a show, only to perform it for thousands of empty seats. Luckily, the Marching Colonels enjoy performing before a wide array of spectators at every competition. So it’s vital to us that everyone in our audience is allowed to enjoy the show. When attending a marching band competition, please keep the following in mind.

How to get the most out of competition day

Support every band. No matter who is on the field, clap and cheer when they do a good job. Crowd response inspires students to perform better, and makes for a more enjoyable show for everyone.

Watch the whole show. Pay attention to every element. Usually several things are happening at once. When you watch several performances of the same show, you will probably notice something new and interesting in each performance.

Show up early. Bands in smaller classes often perform fabulous shows. If you’re only there to hear your band, you’ll miss a lot of great performances.

Buy concessions. The prices typically are less than you’d expect to pay at the movie theater, yet concessions revenue often funds a large portion of the host band’s operating costs.

How not to embarrass your band

Pause your conversation during the show. It’s great to catch up with family and friends, but talking during a band’s performance is bad form, plain and simple. Respect your neighbors’ right to enjoy the shows they paid to see/hear. With a little luck, you’ll receive the same courtesy.

Turn off your phone. Or at least set it to vibrate. Talking on the phone during a performance is just as obnoxious as talking face-to-face during a performance. Save that important phone call for the several minutes that pass while one band is leaving the field and the next band is setting up.

Stay put when a band performs. With the exception of a well deserved standing ovation, please stay seated so you won’t block the visuals on the field from the folks behind you. Hold any banners you may have so that they’re not obstructing the view of others. A typical marching band performance lasts less than ten minutes, and there’s plenty of time between bands to get up for food or a bathroom break.

Keep your young children with you. We love our kids, and yours as well. It just wouldn’t be a marching band competition without the little ones. And while they might not want to sit still, we can’t allow horseplay or running around in the stands. It’s not safe, and it makes it hard for other spectators to enjoy the show.

Be nice. Maybe you’re not a fan of a certain uniform, or you find a particular arrangement too pedestrian. Please remember that someone sitting within earshot probably has a friend or family member on the field, and they do not appreciate your criticism, no matter how spot-on you may think it is. For weeks or months prior to competition day, every member of your band invested considerable time and effort. Their families made huge sacrifices to make this show possible. Members of the other bands worked just as hard, so keep the smack-talk to yourself!

Do not boo during the awards ceremony. Sometimes judges fail to recognize our band’s superior performances in every caption. They’re only human. But while you’re free to disagree with their assessments, we ask that you resist the temptation to openly voice your disappointment. Booing doesn’t reflect the attitude of Dixie Heights. It’s not who we are. Please don’t do it.

Rules for judging

Eight judges evaluate each show.  

Two Music Performance Judges evaluate how the band plays and all of the details associated with musicianship. 

Two Visual Performance Judges evaluate the marching, form control, spacing, etc.

One Music Effect Judge evaluates how effective the musicians pull off the show as well as the musical structure of the show.

One Visual Effect Judge evaluates the construction of the show and how effectively the performers execute it.

One Percussion Judge evaluates front ensemble (pit) and drumline marching and music.  (This score does not play into the overall score of the band.)

One Color Guard Judge evaluates all aspects of the guard performance. (This score is not included in the total score either.)

Judges use voice recorders to log their unedited reactions during our performance. Before leaving, we receive their score sheets and voice recordings. This feedback helps staff to make adjustments to the show throughout the season.

Come to the trailer!

Between performances, we welcome new parents, family members and friends to help out and hang out in the lot. The students would love to see you there, and other band parents are eager to meet you.

Please wear Red and Grey, and and be ready to cheer in the stands. These kids have dedicated enormous amounts of time and energy to bring you this moment. Don’t miss it!