USA in the Morning

Mr Mike's Musings

Cool Marching Formations

One of my passions is directing our school marching band. We get to play at the local sports events, parades, fundraisers and competitions. Marching bands are full of spirit and can really get the crowd, and the players going. It’s more than just the music we play though! Marching bands not only play but march in some amazing formations. If you have ever seen a university marching band play at a sports event, then you probably have seen them march to form intricate patters that spell out the school or state name, or an outline of the teams logo.

I’m a bit “two left feet” when it comes to some of these formations but I have a talented group with people who help choreograph these amazing feats. You can get a lot of ideas online along with some great videos that show you these marches as they are done, as well as teach them. Here are some of my favorites.

Ohio State University Marching Band

We’ve been hearing a lot about this group and their amazing marching formations that seem to come to life. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful this group is at what they do so I’ll share this video, which shows some of their work as well as how they manage these works of art.


Michigan State Marching Band

Michigan University’s marching band has been around since 1896 and they have really evolved through the decades. I love this band’s use of PixMob technology integrated into their formations. What is PixMob you ask? It’s the use of wearable wireless LED lights (or devices), which transforms each wearer into a pixel that is part of a larger image or formation. Here is on of their halftime formations at work.


University of Texas’ Longhorn Band

This group has been given the nickname of the “Show Band of the Southwest” and is known for having played at the 1961 inaugural parade for John F. Kennedy, as well as Super Bowl 8. The band itself is huge but that doesn’t stop them from pulling off some of the coolest formations I’ve seen. Here you can see them at the 2014 Marching Band competition


So this is what our own marching band aspires to become and we work hard! When creating a formation you need to keep size in mind. Our group gets together and draws the formation shape they want to use while figuring out if there is enough space to fit every member, or enough members to fill the spaces. There are a few drill design computer programs that can help in figuring things out.

The harder part is the actual practice drill. Our first few attempts when learning a new drill can be quite comical. I mean lets face it, playing an instrument and paying attention to your steps and where you need to be moving all at once is no easy thing. I tend to have my band practice the marching and the music separately at first, then we combine the two and it does make it a bit easier.

I want to share this website called with you as well, because it came in handy for creating drill designs for the band. They have some free tools and formations to download, as well as some things you have to pay for but it really does come in handy.