For some parents, autumn means back to school, crockpot cooking and Friday night lights. For band parents, it means that band competition season has begun! If you are new to the joys and challenges of performance events (or just need a refresher), this band competition survival guide for parents may come in handy!
Let’s face it- marching bands have a LOT of moving parts. They can always use a helping hand, especially during competitions. If you have some time to spare, consider spending some it with some talented kiddos. Your band director will ultimately determine where help is needed but there are lots of ways to jump in! Below are some suggested volunteer opportunities.
Chaperones are invaluable during a competition. They ride the bus to help maintain order, offer endless supplies of patience to students waiting in endless queues to perform, carry coats for those brisk evening performances and generally help students get through the event from start to finish.
If you have a bit of muscle or a knack for organizing, consider helping with props or pit crew. Equipment trucks need to be loaded and unloaded and field props set up and torn down quickly.
Someone needs to sort those uniforms and keep track of the plumed hats for distribution! It’s also a good idea to have a few people handy with needle and thread (or even duct tape!) for last minute uniform repairs.
Ideally, a medical professional will travel with the band. However, a few caring parents willing to handle basic first aid is always appreciated.
Making sure students are hydrated and well-fed is critical to a successful competition. Days can be long and rigorous. A little food and lots of water go a long way and snack volunteers usually have rock star status among students!
If you are more of supporter from the stands, there are things you should also do to prepare for competition day.
Weather in the fall can be tricky, depending on location. Days in the sun can be hot while nights can get cold quickly. Dress in layers, throw hats and gloves into a backpack and don’t forget the ponchos (I can speak to this personally!) Blankets are a great idea also and…need I say it…. don’t forget your stadium seat!
Most performance venues will have concessions of some sort, so be sure to bring some pocket money for hot chocolate and nachos. Many competitions will also be selling gear like t-shirts, pins, patches, etc. Your band student may not have a chance to shop so be prepared to grab the goods for him/her.
If the competition is held at a host school, that school may use it as an opportunity to fundraise. Prepare for 50/50 tickets, basket raffles and candy grams!
Bands are doing the difficult work of performing but spectators should carry their weight by cheering them on! Consider sitting with others from your school to make your presence known. Carry a banner or signs to show your team spirit. Ring those cowbells when the performance ends so they’ll hear you on the field!
While we want to show support for our kiddos, remember that their competitors are someone’s children, too. Refrain from negative comments in the stands, be considerate of moving only between performances and give a hand to all the performers in recognition of their hard work.
Whether you are a volunteer or spectator, band competition season will find you. It’s a wonderful, wild and exciting time of year! Stay on top of your game with this band competition survival guide for parents and keep your fingers crossed that the kids bring home a winner!