For new band parents and students, here’s a view of what happens at Field Show Competitions from a parent’s perspective. Hopefully you can get some insight on how important these competitions are and why it’s imperative that students attend the competitions ready for the drill – a missing student would create a hole in the routine and could result in reduced scores for the entire Band and Colorguard which has worked so hard for these competitions.

The football half-time shows are important dress rehearsal opportunities for the Field Show Tournaments and Competitions, which are sponsored by various High School Band organizations. In recent years the Edison Pageantry Corps has primarily competed in events sponsored by the Southern California Judging Association, or SCJA (

Bands are judged by a panel of experts – and the difficulty of the music and the show are taken into consideration. There are required movements. Everything is very regimented since these tournaments and Marching Band originated out of the military tradition. There is little to no flexibility or consideration of circumstances for violations of protocol.

How the day transpires…

Students report to Edison to leave for the Competition.

When the Band and Color Guard get to the Field Show location the truck is unloaded and students gather their uniform pieces, instruments and Color Guard equipment. Band and Color Guard proceed to their designated warm-up areas which are usually in separate locations.

The Roadies will assist percussion in getting their equipment to their designated warm up area and take to the competition entrance. About 15-30 minutes before performance, the Band and Color Guard come together and get into position. Once they are called, they enter the field. They have a limited amount of time to get onto the field. The Roadies drive the cart and equipment onto the field and get everything in position. The Band is given a 4 minute warning. There will be deductions for any time taken over that. The Roadies must leave the area before that time expires. The Drum Major gets into position and the announcer asks if the Band and Color Guard are ready. The Drum Major salutes the judges to acknowledge readiness and the competition begins.

The field show must fit within certain time and musical parameters. The judges watch very closely to see if the band is synchronized, in step and for the spacing that occurs. They judge the quality of the music performance as well. Another judge or two are dedicated to judging the Color Guard or other Auxiliary.

Competition classes depend on the number of performers in the Band and Color Guard. Groups of similar sizes compete against each other, within their class. There are breaks in the competition between class performances. If a particular class has a large number of bands, the class is often divided into groups of 4 to 6 bands.

Competitions are fairly formal in regards to the audience similar to a professional orchestra concert. No one in the audience is allowed to be seated (nor should anyone leave) during a band performance and all audience members should remain quiet during the performance. There are breaks between categories. After a band performs and marches off the field, the kids often change into school colors or band tee shirts and get something to eat and sit in the stands to watch other bands.

Most Competitions and Tournaments give out the all-important awards at one time, although some competitions will have two awards ceremonies depending on how many groups are competing. The Judges’ evaluations are given to the Band Directors prior to the awards ceremony. The Band Directors go over the scores and can only challenge mathematical mistakes–performances have “placed” by percentages of a point – just like the Olympics.

The Award Ceremony is a treat unto itself. The Drum Majors, Percussion Captains, and the Auxiliary Captains form a semi-circle on the field. Sometimes the performers in the stands start a wave, yell or group visual of some kind. This quickly becomes a competition of its own. Some bands are extremely regimented and do none of this, and may simply stand at attention.

Each size class has 3 or more categories of awards: Percussion, Auxiliary (Color Guard) and Visual/instrumental. First thru Third Place are announced – then there is Sweepstakes which is the best of all. All are awarded strictly by the judge’s calculations.

When an award is given, the leadership team steps up to get the trophy and usually does some kind of distinguishing choreographed salute before accepting the award. Sometimes the routines get very complicated. The awarding group also responds with a routine of its own. There’s a lot of saluting going on. After the Award Ceremony is over (and they can take a while!) the leadership approaches the stands where the students are seated and the students cheer for their award and school. Students are dismissed by the assistant band director to return to and board their buses and go home.

Attending the Award ceremony is extremely important – and unless there is a major time lapse between performance and the award ceremony, the Band and Color Guard always stays for the whole thing. Parents are encouraged to come and cheer the band on – this is a competition after all!

Students, staff, chaperones and some volunteers will receive wristbands, which allow entry to the performer’s designated spectator area. All other spectators will be required to purchase their own admission and sit in the general spectator’s area.

The Tournament is hosted by the Band or Band and Color Guard Boosters at that school. They can earn quite a bit of money by charging admission and selling concessions. Most schools have barbecues going and sell home baked items as well as a variety of pre-packaged food. Funnel cakes and Kettle Corn are big crowd pleasers. The choices are different at each competition.

There are programs available for purchase. Usually there are photos of the bands and auxiliary as well as the program order. The times listed in the program are very accurate, but can be subject to change.