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What is a field show?

Marching bands are well known for their parade performances playing catchy pop tunes on warm summer days. We’re best known in Calgary for our appearance in the annual Calgary Stampede Parade. However, a majority of our spring and summer rehearsals are actually spent learning and rehearsing our field shows. 

What is a field show? I like to compare it to a theatrical performance, but instead of on stage with actors, a field show is performed on a field (usually a football field) with musicians and our colourguard. 

Field shows will take a concept or a theme to tell a story with music and movement. In 2012, the Calgary Round Up Band performed their show, Video Games LIVE which told the story of a young boy who gets pulled into the video game world and finds himself on a hero’s quest moving through obstacles and antagonists to get to the end of the game. In this show, the band played music from well known video games: Super Mario, Mortal Kombat, Halo etc., that helped convey what the protagonist was going through.

You can see the field show here:

This is the Calgary Round Up Band’s 2019 field show, Beginnings

This is the Calgary Stetson Show Band’s 2019 field show, The Machine

Now that you’ve seen an example of a field show, you may be wondering how a production like this comes together. Each section will rehearse independently to memorize and solidify the music and movement. From there, each member of the band will get a piece of paper that looks something like this:

The field that we perform and rehearse on is a grid and each individual in the band gets their own spot on the field. No two people ever have the same spot. At a glance, this little piece of paper seems complex and confusing but it tells you all you need to know: where your spot is and how many counts it takes to get there. Each person is a piece of a puzzle and as we rehearse, the puzzle slowly comes together to create a beautiful image, a field show. 

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