MARCHING BAND CONTEST ETIQUETTE
There are many types of spectators at a band show and they have many different reasons for coming to the show. However, they all have one thing in common and that is that they should be allowed to enjoy the experience. A Marching Band competition is not quite a concert, and it's not quite a sporting event. There are some elements of each which are encouraged, while others are discouraged. Many parents (especially those new to the activity) are unsure as to when it is appropriate to cheer or applaud. Below are some tips to help you become contributors to a performance, without being a distraction.

  • If you've never attended a marching band competition, you'll be surprised and amazed at how quiet and attentive most people are during performances. This is very different from football games where the halftime performance is just background noise for peoples' conversations. For this reason alone, you should try to get to as many competitions as possible. 
  • The best marching band fans are those who cheer for every band. Sure, you're going to cheer loudest for your band, but every band is out there to entertain or move the audience in some way. They all deserve your applause, and every band should get a standing ovation at the end. 
  • Here are some basic Dos and Don'ts:
  • Do get to the show early to get a good seat. Sit as high and centered in the bleachers as possible, so you can get the full effect. 
  • Don't have one or two over-zealous parents try to save a whole section of bleachers for just our fans. Seating is generally first-come, first-served.
  • Do wear your school colors proudly!
  • Don't wave pompons or pennants, or hold up big banners or signs! This only serves to distract the performers and obstruct the view of other audience members.
  • Do share and converse with those around you (even those from other schools) between bands.
  • Don't talk during ANY band's performance! And, don't try to get up or down the bleachers during performances. This is essentially a concert. There are people around you that want to hear every note and see every effect. Save your comments for between bands, and pick one band to miss as you get a hot dog or use the restroom.
  • Do find the positives in each band's performance, and applaud their efforts.
  • Don't make negative comments.  If you must point out flaws, wait until the drive home!
  • Don't just zero in on your own teenager for the entire show. You'll miss a lot!
  • Do applaud often. It's not like a concert, where you wait until the end to applaud. It's appropriate to applaud for stirring musical moments, cool visual effects, soloists, or anything else that strikes your fancy! Even the occasional "Yeah!" or "Woo!" is great, where appropriate.
  • Do concentrate on what is going well in each band's performance.
  • Don't react vocally with an "Oh!" when something goes wrong. Especially in the early shows, rifles will be dropped, kids will slip and fall, etc. You're not making them feel better about it by reacting negatively.
  • Do applaud each band's placement at the awards ceremony (whether you liked their show or not). Like has nothing to do with a score. Judges are trained to evaluate skills and production value without consideration to personal taste.
  • Don't boo or otherwise comment negatively on anyone's placement. Don't cheer or otherwise react when another band places lower than expected. Wait until your band is actually announced, and then cheer your head off! Don't get up to leave until all awards have been announced (even if you are unhappy with the results).
  • Do trust that the adjudicators are professionals who are doing the best they can, to judge what is ultimately a very subjective activity. On any given Saturday, with any given judging panel, anything can happen.
  • Don't for a moment think that anything is "rigged" or that there are "hometown favorites". Bands that seem to "win all the time" do so for a reason: they're really good, and they're really consistent.