Circle Drill

The greatest marching drill EVER!

  Photo used without permission...I am above the law!

Photo used without permission...I am above the law!

Circle drill is great because you can adress almost every aspect of marching with it.  The set up is simple, it can accomodate almost any size group, and the tech or caption head can watch and analyze from the center!

The set-up

  • Put a group of marchers (it could be the brass line, or just the trumpets, or the guard, or the whole battery, or the woodwinds and guard, or the whole horn line, or the whole band if there is enough space, etc...you get it) in a circle.  This can be  tricky at first because for this to really work it's important to have a well formed circle.  If you can, paint a circle on the field or if you have a basketball court you can use the center court circle.
  • Have them face in and then dress right and dress left.  This is good also because they will begin to recognize guiding a curved form.  

Starting the drill

  • I always like to start by marking time for 8 clicks and then 16 clicks.  I'll do this 8 and 16 segment 3 to 5 times at a moderate tempo (say 108-120).  This gets the group used to hitting the heel with the click.  This is your chance as the tech to address the carriage and posture while also making sure each member is capable of feeling the time in their feet.  Have them halt at the end of every 8 and 16 click pattern and dress left or right (switch it up).  This gets them used to halting with the click and in the habit of dressing the form at the end of any sequence be it circle drill or running sets on the field. 

Basic drill patterns

During these drills make sure to check the carry, address guiding with the eyes, toe heights, etc.  Also, VARY THE TEMPO!  Don't stay at 120 the whole day, everybody will be bored!!!

  • Backward march 8-halt-"dress"-"ready front"
  • Forward march 8-halt-"dress"-"ready front"
  • Backward march 16-halt-"dress"-"ready front"
  • Forward march 16-halt-"dress"-"ready front"
  • Backward 8-Forward 8-halt-"dress"-"ready front"
  • Backward 16-Forward 16-halt-"dress"-"ready front"

2x's:

  • Backward 8-Forward 8-halt-"dress"-"ready front"
  • Backward 16-Forward 16-halt-"dress"-"ready front"

Lets rotate!

These are designed to get the ensemble used to changing direction during sets.

  • Rotate right 8-halt-"dress"-"ready front"
  • Rotate left 8-halt-"dress"-"ready front
  • Do the previous 2 but with 16 counts

Let's make it even cooler!

  • Backward 8-Rotate right 8-halt-"dress"-"ready front"
  • Forward 8-Rotate left 8-halt-"dress"-"ready front
  • Do the previous 2 but with 16 counts

You get the idea?  You can get real creative with this too!  Challenge the band with instructions, encourage them to help each other out with the counts.  Have them yell the counts and maneuvers as they do them.  Don't just give commands and have them execute the same way every time.  Say "here we go, help each other out and count out loud."  Then the next time do the same drill but, "it's on you!  count in your head and focus.  We are looking for zero mistakes, you got this!"  Stay excited, and positive reinforcement is key.  Push-ups don't hurt either!

Wow, let's get advanced!

Now you can incorporate all kinds of things into the drill.

  • Have them march a back 8, rotate right 8, back 8, rotate left 8, forward 16, rotate left 8 and halt.  BUT have them snap the horn up and down at the beginning of each segment.
  • Add a hip switch during a rotation: back 8, rotate right 16 with a hip switch on 8, forward 8 and halt
  • Add halts in the middle of a drill: back 8, rotate right 8, halt 8, rotate left 8, back 8, halt 4, forward 16, and halt
  • Have the members guide the circle in a direction: move the circle to the right 16 (note: not a rotation, literally moving the circle 16 steps at an 8x5 stride)
  • Move the circle in the middle of a drill: back 8, rotate left 8, guide circle right 16, and halt

Conclusion

Circle drill can be used to check every aspect of marching.  From the carry of the horn to touch and go's to step size, guiding, etc.  Make it a regular part of your marching warm up and watch how much better you group gets!

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."- Henry Ford