Two Types of Marching Bands

Several categories of marching bands exist and fall under the classification of ceremonial and parade bands. These ensembles are designed to entertain, and consist of woodwind, brass and percussion instruments. All marching bands incorporate some form of movement and require the performers to be adept at playing and marching.

Military Marching Bands

Military marching bands were the first type of marching band and generally required that the instrumentalists march in a straight line without the use of sharp turns. These ceremonial bands often performed in parades and were typically used to march alongside soldiers. While most of these bands are no longer in use, there are still colleges that use military bands to preserve their tradition. The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band is one prominent example of a military band that still performs and competes in national contests.

Bugle Bands

Bugle bands are a sub-type of military ceremonial marching bands. Rather than using standard woodwind, percussion and brass instrumentation, these bands use only bugles. This requires a special type of music, as bugle bands are not capable of playing highly complex music. The bugle is limited to playing the notes that are available on the trumpet without pressing valves. These bands are very rare.

Parade Bands

Parade bands are another sub-type of military bands. The instrumentation varies more than with a traditional military band. Many of the parade bands will use bag-pipes and small versions of flutes called fifes. These groups don't march in line with soldiers and are almost exclusively used to play marches in parades. These account for the majority of marching bands seen in parades.

Drum Corps

As the name suggests, drum corps place a heavy emphasis on percussion instruments. They are professional groups that create complex designs in a field to provide entertainment and music for the audience. Drum corps will occasionally play at football games. They compete in national and local contests and usually receive corporate sponsorships to help keep them active. These groups are highly selective and only admit the best performers.

Student Marching Bands

The final type of marching band is the parade high school and college marching band. These marching bands often play half-time shows at football games, march in parades and create advanced formations on football fields. Most high school marching bands will play shows that involve marching into different formations while playing music. They also sit in the stands and perform fight songs and cheers to enhance the football game.


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