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College Marching Band

How To Join College Marching Band


College Marching Band | How To Join College Marching Band

Page updated 3/1/2016


College Marching Band Tips for Students and Parents - Many students who join a marching band in high school choose to continue this path into their college years.  Marching band and playing musical instruments can be a fulfilling piece of your college experience.  Many marching bands play events like halftime shows for college football games, parades, concerts, and special events.  If you have the luck of going to a school with a good football team, your marching band could even travel to college bowl games to perform.  Many times bowl games are located in warmer climates which provides a nice break if you happen to attend a school in a colder area.

The college or music school that you choose could offer a variety of options to join marching band.  Listed below we will help you to find answers to some frequently asked questions regarding joining a marching band during your college years.   This info is general in nature, but feel free to visit our Music College Listings to research more universities that may offer opportunities to join their marching band programs. 

Visit this page if you need to locate marching band music instrument manufacturers.  Good luck on your marching band search. 

Frequently Asked Questions About College and University Marching Bands

Listed below are some frequently asked questions on joining Marching Band in College or at a University:

  • Do I have to be a music major to join a college marching band - Typically the answer here is No, unless you go to a music or performing arts program at a specific school.  Many schools offer non music majors an opportunity to perform in their marching band programs.  Email or call the specific Music University that offers marching band programs so that you can research for more details. 
  • Will I have to participate in band camp for college marching band programs - Many college and universities with marching band programs require a band camp to be attended.   Band Camp for marching band typically occurs in the weeks prior to the fall semester.  Typically schools with a college football program will have a late summer band camp.  Many football games start in late August or early September, so you must be prepared for home games and possibly away games depending on the school in which you apply.  Plus you can tell stories about "This one time at band camp....."
  • Are auditions required for marching band - Typically yes.  You may have to memorize scales, perform sight readings, spin, twirl, or perform drum rudiments.   Auditions may require you to prepare a solo or song arrangement.  Certain instruments may have different audition requirements.  Consult the school website of interest for typical audition requirements for marching band.
  • Typical marching band Instruments Include:
    • Alto Saxophone
    • Baritone
    • Clarinet
    • Flute
    • Piccolo
    • Mellophone
    • Percussion:
      •  Bass
      • Cymbals
      • Snare
      • Tenor
    • Sousaphone
    • Tenor Saxophone
    • Trombone
    • Trumpet
    • Tuba


  • Do colleges provide musical instruments and drums for marching band - Of course this is dependent on the school, but typically the larger instruments may be provided.  So most percussion type instruments, tubas, and sousaphones are provided by many schools.   Consult the website of the school you may be researching for more details. 
  • Are uniforms provided for most college marching bands - Many colleges may provide a uniform others may ask you to pay for them.  Color guard, drum corp, and marching band members could have different uniform types and sizes.  You may also have to pay for your own shoes, lyres, and gloves.   Consult the school of interest for more info. 
  • Do I have to fundraise for college marching band - Most colleges pay for travel, meals, hotel costs, and some equipment and uniforms.  Typically expenses are minimal for participants.  Fundraising for college marching bands typically is not as prevalent as it would be for a high school marching band. 
  • Can I receive academic credit for marching band - Depending on the school you may receive certain credits for you time in marching band. 
  • How much rehearsal time is needed per week - Most college marching bands practice 5 to 7 hours per week.  Typically 3 to 4 days of practice are required dependent on the school.   Typically the time you spend practicing should not interfere with your studies. 
  • What are the typical genres of music played in a marching band - Many marching bands these days play a variety of music including rock, pop, movie themes, ska, jazz, and hip hop.  Check you school of interests website for more details.