The Sound of Music

| December 1, 2008 | 1 Comment

As I write this article it is mid November, and the Fall Field show season is quickly approaching its conclusion.  However, as with all things in the color guard world, this is no time for rest & reflection.   In actuality, this is the time when all instructors begin to frantically search for inspiration for their winter guard show(s).  In fact, I believe a good many of you have been on this hunt for inspired revelation since early September.

As artists we tend to extract our creativity from the world that surrounds us.  The premise for a show may be found in something as simple as traffic on the freeway,  nostalgia for the past, the colors in a work of art, or a piece of music.  There are indeed multiple levels of motivation that go into the creative process.  In fact, the development of creativity is so multifaceted that one could write a novel concerning it and still not skim the surface of motivation or inspiration.  Rest assured there is absolutely no novel writing potential in me!  No, I prefer to take the simple approach to this huge topic and tackle it one step at a time.

Step #1:  Music Selection

It is essential that both the instructors and performers understand this vital concept regarding the musical selection of your show:

Your Color Guard is the Visual Orchestration of your Musical Selection.

Thinking Points:

  • Your musical selection will open up lines of communication with the audience.  What message, mood, and concept do you want to communicate?
  • Considering this, it is important to know your audience.  There is a big difference between the musical selection for a pep rally, and that which would support a competitive show.
  • Will the audience understand the music?  Will they be able to grasp the message or intent of your show in just one listen/view?
  • Always consider the need for contrast and development in musical selections.  The same beat, lyrics or orchestration quickly becomes mundane and generally does not offer opportunities to fully develop a show.
  • Think of your music as a journey of varying intensity, tension and release.
  • Search your musical selection to determine the availability of choreographed impact points and visual/audio resolutions.
  • Does the selection have a good ending?  Your final opportunity to make an impression on the audience could be lost if the music simply fades into oblivion.
  • Take your performers beyond pop or current trend music.  Audiences often have a predetermined expectation of such music (via music videos) that your performers may not live up to.
  • Can you count to it?  If you can’t count to it, how will your students be able to connect choreography to musical structure?
  • Will your performers be able to relate to the music?  If they can not relate to it…the chance that they will be able to communicate your show to the audience is slim.
  • Just to be sure, check out the Restricted Music list for the WGI or your local circuit.  Stay away from these selections.
  • Finally, understand the skill limits of your performers.  Do not select music that demands a skill that your performers may not yet possess.

There is no doubt that in the pursuit for your ‘sound of music’, you should seek to explore as many avenues as possible before making that final choice.  Hopefully, I have given you a few things to think about as you embark on this process.   I leave this article with a final quote…..

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”

-Victor Hugo


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Category: Design, Music

About the Author (Author Profile)

Chris Casteel is an adjudicator with the Winter Guard Association of Southern California (WGASC). She was an instructor in the activity for approximately 20 years before moving into adjudication. She teaches Language Arts and Writing at a middle school in San Marcos, CA and is also a mentor teacher for the school. She holds a BA degree in Education, a California Teaching Credential and a Masters degree in education. Thanks to Chris Casteel for sharing her ideas and for WGASC for allowing the republication of her articles on this website for instructors outside of the WGASC circuit.

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