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Band Competition Survival Guide for Parents

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.

Pit Crew/Props

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.

Uniform Crew

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.

First Aid

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!

Team Spirit

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!

Marching Band Competitions

When our son joined the high school band, I had visions of Friday night lights and a rousing drum beat calling to the crowd at our high school football games. I imagined the tattoo accompanying the cheerleaders and the military precision of a halftime show. I didn’t envision countless hours of summer practice and daily practices once school resumed. Not having a background in music, I didn’t understand why all the fuss.

Now with a year under my belt as an official “band mom,” I get it. His band isn’t JUST a spirit band- it’s a competitive band (and a darn good one, too!). Just as the football team practices and prepares for a shot at the playoffs, the band trains for its big dance at the Bands of America regional competition. Our high school participates in the southeast regional, but there are marching band competitions across the country. This fall, 22 Bands of America (BOA) Championships will be held throughout the U.S.

What is Bands of America?

Bands of America is a Music for All program with more than one million alumni. It was created in 1976 as “Marching Bands of America” and renamed in 1984. In 2006, it merged with the Music for All Foundation to become the program we know today. Music for All’s mission is “to create, provide, and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all.” Bands of America plays a huge part in reaching this lofty goal!

What are the Bands of America Events?

BOA offers several participation levels for bands of different sizes. All are exceptional venues for amazing performances and are evaluated by experts.

Regional Championships

Regional Championships are complete, one day championships with educational events. As many as 32 bands can compete, with 10 advancing to the evening finals.

Super Regional Championships

Super Regional Championships are two-day, amped up events that allow up to 84 bands to compete (52 on Friday and 32 on Saturday). Two panels judge the preliminaries followed by a 14-band final competition on Saturday evening.

Grand National Championship

The BOA Grand National Championships is a three-day, preliminary, semi-finals and finals event held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It is touted as the nation’s most exciting marching band event open to all high school bands on a first-come, first-served basis.

Where and When are Bands of America Events Held?

There are 22 marching band competitions from September 21st through November 9th across the country, so chances are good there’s a BOA event near you. States include:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia

How Much Does it Cost to Participate in Bands of America?

The short answer is, it depends on which competition you choose and if you want to include extras. Regional championships have an early season base price of $700 and a regular season price of $875. Super Regional Championships have a base price of $875. The Grand National Championships base price is $975. Sunday clinics may be available for an additional cost of $275.

Why Should Our Band Apply for Bands of America?

Bands of America Championships are nationally recognized as premier high school marching band competitions and listed on the 2019-2020 National Association of Secondary School Principals as an approved program for students. They are stunning displays of skill and pageantry. Beyond all of this, they are the playoffs for which our kids have trained so hard. Find the BOA event that makes sense for your band and showcase your students’ incredible talent on a national stage!