Do Marching Bands Have Flutes?

By Woodwind | Flute Advice

Mar 18
Do Marching Bands Have Flutes

You want to play the flute, but you also want to participate in marching band. Do marching bands have flutes? Or will you need to learn a different instrument?

Well, you’re in luck! Most if not all high school marching bands have a woodwind section, which includes flutes. Marching band is such a fun experience. There’s band camp, practices before and/or after school, halftime performances, community functions, and competitions. Bond and grow with your flute section and learn to work together as a band to perform a great show.

Interested in playing flute in college? You will need to check with the band program. Most college marching bands have flutes, but not all. For example, Ohio State University marching band does not – they only use brass and percussion instruments. It is possible to switch to a different instrument for marching band, but you will have to decide what would be the best fit for you.

Marching Band Flutes

Many students have a second flute for marching band. This could be purchased, rented, or some school bands have instruments that can be used for marching band season.

Practicing and performing outside can lead to potential problems for your instrument. Weather is a factor – you may have to play in the rain. Because you are marching around in formations, you may bump into other people or other instruments. Accidents happen and falling or dropping a flute can damage the instrument. This is why it is recommended to have a separate flute other than the one you use for concert band.

Student flutes are a great choice for a marching band flute. They are generally cheaper than more advanced versions, so damages are not as big of a deal. If you start with a student flute when learning to play and eventually upgrade to an intermediate, hang onto your student flute for marching band season. Having two flutes is advantageous if one does get damaged. While it’s being fixed, you still have a flute to practice with. Click here for recommendations for student flutes. One of the most inexpensive student flutes that I have been able to find is the Glory Closed Hole C Flute.

Another possible option is a plastic flute, such as the Nuvo flute. You will need to check with the band instructor to see if plastic instruments are allowed. The advantage of the Nuvo flute is that it is waterproof and more durable. The Nuvo Student Flute is just like a standard student flute except for the material. It has the same keys and fingering. If your instructor allows plastic instruments, you may want to ask about color requirements. The Nuvo flute comes in multiple different colors but you may only be allowed to have a neutral colored flute. Click here to read more about Nuvo Flutes.

To prolong your flute’s life, make sure you wipe it after each use. Most flutes come with a cleaning rod and cloth. If not, they are an inexpensive purchase. If you have to play your flute in the rain, wipe it dry once you’re inside. Your flute should be wiped on the inside and the outside.

Marching Band Accessories for Flute

Marching band is a combination of playing music and marching. When you perform, you will have the music memorized, but while you’re practicing you need to be able to read the music as you march. There are a few different marching band flute music holder or flute lyre options.

The first is the DEG Flutist Friend Marching Lyre, a flip folder that attaches to your forearm. This type of music holder is all one unit and has everything you need. The arm straps are adjustable to fit any size flute player. The flip folder has multiple pages to slip your music into. The plastic covers will protect the sheet music from precipitation or moisture.

I recommend this type of flute marching band music holder. It will not damage your flute and it stays in place relatively well.

The second type of flute lyre attaches to your wrist. The problem with this option is stability. In order to keep the music from rotating or flopping around, you have to tighten the strap which can hurt your wrist. The base that holds a flip folder is sometimes not strong enough to hold it upright too.

A flip folder is not included with this flute lyre.

The third type of flute lyre attaches to the flute itself. The issue with this option is that it can damage your instrument, perhaps not to the point it can’t be played, but aesthetically speaking, it can scratch it. They can also slide on your flute, requiring your to tighten the clamp, which could also cause some damage. Some users have complained about the weight, which hurts your posture as well.

If you purchase this flute lyre, you will also need to purchase a flip folder.

Depending on where you live, the marching band season can consist of pretty cold days. Make sure you wear layers and pay attention to the weather. I recommend getting some fingerless gloves. This way your hands can stay warm but you won’t risk dropping your instrument. They don’t need to be fancy or anything, either. Here are some inexpensive fingerless gloves.

Marching band is a fun and rewarding experience. You can play your flute, perform awesome music, and make great friends!

If there’s anything else flutists need to know about playing in marching band, let us know in the comments below!

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(1) comment

Jay Ren September 30, 2017

I think it’s a really good idea to have a separate flute for outdoor performances like you mentioned. My niece is starting to play the flute and I bet she could benefit from having a spare and some neat accessories specifically for marching band. I’ll have to see what she needs and maybe I can get her a marching flute for her birthday!

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