The Official Marching Band Dictionary David Southwick

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Note: Parts - but not all - of this may only be funny to LHS Marching Band Geeks (It's not for wimps; Bar None!).

Ύ TIME A way to keep the band continuously out of step.
AIR The driving force behind brass instruments, but generally lacks in woodwinds, therefore causing squeaks.
AIR-BAND A form of enforced hyper-ventilation (a violation of the 8th Amendment's cruel & unusual punishment law).
ALTO SAXOPHONE A musical instrument that either plays very loud or not at all between squeaks.
ARC A shape with between one and five corners and one open side.
ASSISTANT DRUM MAJOR Takes over for drum major when not available.
ASTROTURF A substance which is credited to be the only reason Leigh ever made second place in the 1996 season.
ATTENTION Standing still while sticking out your butt. Can only talk in whispers so that no captains or other leaders hear you.
AUXILIARY See color-guard.
BAIL That which one (often Mike Susoev) does on a wet field. Generally, the person who bails (the bailer) winds up on the ground (the bailee).
BAND CAMP* A time of gathering between most band geeks (including color guard) for six days during August where they learn how to hunt raccoons and sneak out of cabins in search of real food (such as the Pepsi machine, which brings together the biggest collection of 1's and quarters you've ever seen!)
BAND GEEK Someone who is very enthusiastic and involved in band. Willing to give up all free time.
BAND JACKET 1. Status symbol.
2. Proclamation of true geekdom.
BAND PARENTS The only parents that a band geek sees between August and December. The only reason the band is held together.
BAND PARTY A gathering of Band Geeks where they can wear their Band Jackets, play cards and capture-the-flag, and complain about the latest rehearsal and upcoming competitions.
BARI-SAXOPHONE An instrument for woodwind saxophone players who want to play like a tuba.
BARITONE A device for doubling with trombones except using the right notes. Also used for playing during silence.
BASS CLARINET A concert instrument that, when used properly, is still not heard.
BASSOON An unusual hybrid between a bass clarinet and oboe which remains unused in marching.
BATHROOM OF DOOM An object designed to really get to know the people (and their characteristic smells) in the back of the bus.
BELL-DINGING A physical symbol of a mistake made in the last move. Usually followed by 'shups.
BELL-FRONT INSTRUMENT Always brass, these are directional instruments designed to play extremely loud.
BI-SECTIONAL The term given to one who plays different instruments for different ensembles.
BONFIRE A device for celebrating the use of a dot book, drill, and music (including, but not limited to, Pomp and Circumstance).
BRAIN FART A mistake involving an escape of gaseous substances from the head usually in conjunction with missing a set.
BRASS Metallic looking and sounding devices designed to over-blow and blast.
BRASS TREE A tree located near the marching field where brass members go after they utter the all-important meaning-of-life phrase: "I gotta go..."
BRING ON THE MEN A terrible musical selection for the band in their 1995 season, but great career training for the color-guard.
BROOM The object used by most band members to "sweep."
BUS 1. A good way to get to know someone (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, if you know what I mean), however the most painful way in the world to watch a movie. Also known for the Bathroom of Doom.
2. The only way to see a pigeon at 65 MPH.
CADENCE A way of making the crowd forget the parade march the band just played that impresses people. Good time for band section visuals.
CAMP STAFF Student leaders of band camp. They organize the week and act as counselors in the cabins.
CAPTAIN Leader of a section who tries to keep their section out of complete chaos in order to make themselves look good.
CAPTURE-THE-FLAG A way of summoning the local police (including helicopter).
CARDS 52 rectangular devices of equal size and width which each have respective numbers, symbols, and colors on them which keep band geeks continually entertained.
CD'S Thin circular devices with a 5.25" diameter and a hole in the middle that are manufactured by companies such as Microsoft, Apple, and America Online to be used for marking one's place on the field when learning new sets.
CHAIR, The A device used for good luck at competitions and to increase the vibe amongst geeks.
CHEAP HIGH A form of rhythmic hyper-ventilation done for fun.
CHERRY COKE A liquid substance which is almost as important to Band Geeks as valve oil and sombreros, although it is drunk in larger quantities than valve oil.
CIRCLE A closed shape with definite corners and edges.
CLARINET A device which, when used properly, will cause the user's shoulders to point towards the end-zone.
COLLAR Something thy hair shalt never toucheth.
COLOR-GUARD People who swing flags and toss rifles to distract the audience's attention away from the band. Makes the band seem better. Get extra credit if they hit (accidentally, of course) a band member, yet denied if they hit a field judge.
COMPANY FRONT A zigzag line within a certain area of the field, such as a hash: ~~~~~~
COMPETITION A general gathering of band geeks to show that each ones band is better than the others.
CONCERT† Extremely dangerous form of torture for both students and audience. Fatal if used in duration exceeding one hour.
CONCERTO A musical piece that is written for the express reason of singling out one single player from the band to humiliate himself alone in a performance. This technique has successfully been mastered by Mr. Warren Baim.
CONDUCTING The Drum Major's method of amusing the band to points of laughter at times.
CONDUCTOR The person in the front who waves his arms and dances wildly to the music. Constantly marks time during halts.
CONTRA A tuba that is snapped onto and off of the player's shoulder. Designed to build up arm muscles and decrease brain activity. Name was chosen for being sexier than "Sousaphone."
CONTRA BASS CLARINET A large, metallic, clarinet-like instrument that is designed to play in the range of a tuba, but is often mistaken for the kitchen sink.
CRESCENDO TURN** An obsolete action, which means: It sucked.
DCI Drum corps championship series. Extremely rough comparison: If Leigh is a green Pinto, DCI is a Lambourghini.
DEATH MARCH The direct result of a Christmas parade being marched slowly to a fast song.
DIRECTOR The person who claims to be in charge when everything is going well and claims denial when things go wrong.
DISKETTES Devices made to be thrown in a similar style to that of a Frisbee across the marching field prior to rehearsals. This action can also be done with CD's.
DIVINE COMEDY Watching the drum major attempt to keep a correct tempo. Oh yeah, I guess it's also Leigh's 1997 field show, the most successful show in the school's history.
DOLLAR BILL A device for cleaning saxophone pads.
DOOR A spontaneously located area of the field where you go if not willing to participate.
DOT BOOK A small notebook to be kept in pocket that has complex drawings and strange numbers that people say are their spots for each picture. Designed to keep people from learning music.
DOUBLE REED A good way to make a band member's face look like they just ate a lemon.
DR. BEAT A form of cruel and unusual punishment (violation of the 8th Amendment) that is bestowed over a loudspeaker when working on already-learned music.
DRILL Pages that show what a form is supposed to look like. Should be burned at year's end.
DRILL-DOWN When band geeks follow long sets of commands from the drum major, just to see who can do it, in an attempt at fun. It is only "fun" when this name is used, however, not during rehearsal.
DRUM CAPTAIN The leader of the percussion section who's main requirement for the job is to not be able to hold a steady tempo.
DRUM CORPS Very similar to marching band, except for a few differences: 1)They are good. 2)No woodwinds. Coincidence?
DRUM-TAP A snare beat loud enough for the judges to hear, and quiet enough so band doesn't hear.
DRUM-LINE The people hitting the drums (or each other) with sticks in time with each other, but either a half beat earlier or later than the band and one beat from the pit.
DRUM MAJOR See conductor.
DRUM Round hollow devices with covering on the top and sometimes the bottom. Loud.
DYNAMICS Either loud or louder (volume).
EARLY To never be. Reasoning: To be early is to be on time, while to be on time is to be late, but to be late is to never be. Following this through, early is to never be. (Thank you to Billy Kakes for this logic.)
ECHO What a band geek should hear after a good cut-off. I'm not sure what it sounds like, though, so I can't explain it.
EXPONENTIAL GROWTH The mathematical reasoning behind the fact that when one flute graduates, two new freshmen take her place.
F.C.P.L. A brass dynamic marking that stands for "Forget Control - Play Loud!"
FIELD 100 yards in length, this is a wide expanse of mud on which bands perform. Contained within the area of this expanse are frequent sprinklers with occasional patches of grass.
FLASH CUBE A small object containing four light bulbs that is activated by littering the ground with paper clips. The object of these devices is to blind all marchers. This is an excellent method for creating free-form moves.
FLUTE An un-tuned device for people who want to be in the band who have weak arms and don't wish to be heard. Great odds for guys, such as Patrick Lydon, though.
FOOD "Fuel" for band geeks. Is an attacker of performance uniforms, but can still be eaten (in secrecy) in this state of being.
FOOTBALL TEAM The main reason the band can't always use the marching field.
FORMER BAND GEEK The name given to a person who was in band, quit, and now returns (usually with food) to rehearsals to watch just for fun.
FORTE The lowest dynamic marking a brass instrument can play at.
FRENCH HORN Only brass instrument that is played with left hand. Involves strings in conjunction with valves and an impossibility to play fast or loud.
FRESHMEN Designed to make up half the size of the band.
FRESHMAN INITIATION° A form of entertainment to all alumni/upper-classmen.
FULL UNIFORM A form of torture consisting of Urkel pants, a heavy wool jacket, a choking ugly hat (with that strikingly beautiful yet flammable plume), and circulation-stopping suspenders.
FUND-RAISERS Opportunities provided throughout the year for the adult staff to yell at band members while making a few extra bucks on the side. Results of these are used to double standard teacher's salary.
GEEKDOM The state of a band member who is willing to give up all free time during season.
GEEKISM Something that is related to marching band which spontaneously happens (such as walking with friends down the hall in step or whistling warm-ups or scales without thinking about it).
GONG A loud, large cymbal-like device. It is the goal of all good percussionists to break or crack this instrument in any way possible.
GRADUATED BAND GEEK Someone who no longer attends the school or is over-age for a drum corps., so he is no longer in the band or corps. Example: Chris Lambert.
GREEN SHIRT An article of clothing that is washed once a year. A key part of the travel uniform and pep band uniform. Melts when it burns.
HALT A time when everyone is theoretically stopped.
HARMONY All voices except the melody and percussion.
HELL Inferno, Saturday rehearsals, and camp food.
HIGH-MARK-TIME An action that only occurs when the marcher is standing on mud (most of the time, at Leigh!) or when one forgets to wear suspenders to a competition.
HORN-POP A method the keep the pit from going completely deaf when brass instruments pass directly behind them by pointing bells toward the sky. Not recommended for flutes or clarinets.
HUEVOS (slang) A pair of devices which are designed to contain energy which is to be released in the form of air through a brass instrument.
INFERNO The name of our 1997 opener, as well as the band's theme song.
INSTRUCTOR Person who tells you when you're screwing up.
INSTRUMENT† A device used for torture.
INTERVAL A space between two band members that is as random as "Gavorkna"'s tempo.
IQ A constant combined number that does not changes as the size of the band does.
JACK STAMP See Jekyll & Hyde.
JEKYLL & HYDE Something best left unremembered.
KEYBOARD The layout of most pit instruments.
LAPS An alternate to 'shups, although not as effective.
LATE See 'shups.
MAC TRUCK An undefined variable for incorrect intervals invented by Rich Alipaz.
MALLET Something which can only be thrown by Richard Talley.
MANLY TAP Something that Rich Talley fails to achieve.
MARCHING BARITONE A version of a baritone created based on enhancements over the successful design of a Marching French Horn.
MARCHING FRENCH HORN An instrument designed to be unable to tune, kill all freshman who attempt to keep the horn up, and make it impossible to snap.
MARCHING SHOES Ugly, comfy, relatively inexpensive footwear.
MARK-TIME A time when people only move their feet (without changing location) to some tempo, usually "to the beat of a different drum."
MELLOPHONE A tunable version of a marching French horn (is there such a thing?) used by drum corps and many schools. Based on a trumpet design.
MELODY The loudest voice, usually carried by the trumpets or piccolos.
MEMORIZATION An action that is supposed to take place in conjunction with sets and music between band camp and the commencement of the regular year, but does not generally happen, except for the captain, until 'shups are issued or the year is completed.
MEZZO-FORTE The highest dynamic marking of any woodwind excluding the piccolo.
MISTING The meteorological term that the adult staff use for saying, "It's raining, but we don't give a #@$*."
MOUTHPIECE A critical piece to a brass instrument which is meant to be dropped or thrown onto grass, loud stages, and/or sometimes mud if not forgotten. Droppage of this device often results in 'shups. Also an attractant of lawn mowers.
MOVIES The other way to keep busy on the bus, a major contributing factor to amusement at band parties along with capture-the-flag.
MUD A substance that the school wishes to grow and therefore waters the field every night in hopes of increasing (see exponential growth).
MUSIC 1. Papers which contain little black lines and dots with strange symbols that somehow show what the music is to sound like.
2. The succession of these notes that, in theory, should sound good. Unfortunately, we're not all in Theory - we're in Marching Band.
NOTES 1. Little round dots on lines that show the approximate pitch that the instrument player tries to hit.
2. The language of music, similar to "BASIC," "Pascal," or "C" for computers.
NUMBER A, NUMBER B, ETC. A non-linear form of counting invented by T.L.
OBOE A double-reed instrument used for obtaining a clarinet sound in a piccolo range.
ON TIME To never be. See reasoning for early.
ORGANISM When used in conjunction with huevos, leads to the climax of excitement.
OVERLAY A shiny part of the front of the uniform designed to enhance the effects of a flash cube.
PARADE-REST A form of relaxation while standing up. Little talking, but some required to keep band geeks sane.
PEDAL A low vibration tone produced by brass instruments when jaw is loosened. Noise is sometimes mistaken for the conventional brain fart.
PENCIL TEST A test, often failed by freshmen, designed to help bell-front instrument players keep their horns up and even with the ground.
PEP BAND An ensemble that goes to football and basketball games with the sole purpose of embarrassing themselves. Slouching, sitting around, and eating is aloud. Sombreros are expected.
PEP BAND UNIFORM Green shirt, blue jeans, sombrero, and a death wish.
PERCUSSION The group of instruments hit by sticks or mallets that keeps some beat or other.
PERFORMANCE See concert.
PIANO A form of "air-band" playing style.
PICCOLO A high-pitched instrument similar to that of the flute, only you can actually hear that it's out of tune.
PICCOLO TRUMPET An instrument designed to do the same job as a trumpet with some minor enhancements - since it's an octave higher.
PIGEONS A truly unique bird that has only one known natural enemy: The windshield of a bus at 65 MPH.
PIT Percussion instruments that have pitches (like a piano) that play either half a beat earlier or later than the band, opposite of the drum line.
PLANETS Big round spheres that make up the solar system, which became the object that Leigh's 1998 field show was based upon.
PLUME The most dangerous part of the full uniform because of it's flammability: Takes 2 seconds to burn properly.
POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE A painful form of obligation by every band geek during three of their four years in high school. An extremely useful and effective form of torture for underclassmen.
PRACTICE† The constant repetition of a sequence of notes in an unsuccessful attempt to become skilled. Usually drives family members either away from home or insane.
PRACTICE GLOVES A natural method of scientific proof that there are two types of dirt: Dark dirt that is attracted to light objects and light dirt which is attracted to dark objects!
PSEUDO-GEEK Somebody who isn't in band but thinks he is. Attends band parties, competitions, and rehearsals. This is not to be confused with a former band geek, or graduated band geek. See also wannabe band geek.
PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION (P.D.A.) A touchy (literally), debatable subject among band geeks. Something that happens regardless of what rules exist or peer pressure is made on people. Something that happens on the bus, in the stands, during water breaks, before and after rehearsals, during lunch and dinner breaks, on the Band Table, at Band Parties, and just about anywhere else where the rest of the band is forced to watch a couple be disgustingly cutesy together.
PUZZLE A two-dimensional object that is displayed at band camp that takes three days to make, and thirty seconds to forget.
RACCOONS The most popular form of food at band camp. Good with a side of veal, tasting kind of like a mix between chicken and vixen. A worthy opponent to Shawn Morton.
RAIN Nature's way of telling the band to go inside and practice music.
REED 1. A piece of wood that makes a great excuse for not playing well (particularly for brass instruments) if broken or brand new. Usage's: "Sorry, new reed," or "I broke my reed."
2. A device used to efficiently cut one's finger.
3. Emily or Laura.
REHEARSAL† Time used by band geeks to forget anything learned during practice.
RESETTING Definitions vary by sections. Woodwind: Wander aimlessly for 3 minutes and talk quietly. Brass: Run as fast as you can back to your set yelling at the top of your lungs and slipping in the mud then doing pushups. Battery: Wander and swear as you walk slowly back to your set. Colorguard: Prance back to your set and avoid getting hit by stupid, yelling brass players. Pit: Sit there and laugh your @$$ off while you watch this 3 minutes of confusion.
RIFLE 1*. A white-colored piece of wood used by the color guard that is intended for injury of band or color guard members and breakage of nails.
2. An impressive show of arm strength and coordination by the guard. Unfortunately, live ammunition is not granted as well.
ROLL-STEP Method in which a geek should walk if his shoes are round on the bottom. Not bouncing.
SABRE†† A piece of color-guard equipment which the guard prefers over rifles and is also more dangerous. Coincidence?
SECRET PALS Designated person who gives candy, drinks, toys, and wishes of good luck to another member of the band. The cover is "band unity," but it's really an excuse to get good stuff!
SENIOR A source of constant guilt trips.
SFZ-PIANO-CRESCENDO The act of blatting, stopping, then blasting.
SHOW COORDINATOR Person who creates and draws all of the inanimate useless objects that the band attempts to form.
'SHUPS Sometimes called "pushups," these you do when something goes wrong due to you. Usually done in increments or multiples of ten or fifteen. Designed as a method of self-discipline.
SITTING-AROUND An action carried out when sitting on busses on in sands, in which band members rely on perpetual motion to keep from sitting in the same place for more than 30 seconds.
SLOUCHING An action best displayed by the Pep Band and concert bands. Even if it's bad for playing, it's great for the back!
SLOW What only Kyle Shimamoto can do well, but what is usually not supposed to happen.
SNAP Instantly changing a horn's position from attention to 'horns up' or vice-versa. Havoc for someone in front of a snapped instrument.
SOMBREROS 1. A form of status symbolism or intensity; An expression of rank.
2. A required piece of the Pep Band uniform.
3. Accepted dress at Band Parties.
SOUSAPHONE An instrument that adds bass to the band. Can play any note as long as it's a low G.
SPACE-CHORD A chord where each member plays whatever note he feels like. Used so that band members (especially freshmen who aren't used to us) get used to what we sound like.
SPAM An artificial meat substance that almost sounds appetizing after band camp's food.
SPANDEX® God's gift to mankind. A privilege, not a right!
SPARTAN WARM-UPS A completely useless form of warm-up exercises.
SPRINKLER(S) An offensive attacker of the pit and color guard.
SQUEAK The only sign that the woodwind reeds give that they are actually playing.
STAFF Adult leaders who arrange music, write drill, etc., but do not perform in order to avoid embarrassment from their own creations. Not to be confused with camp staff.
STANDING What the brass-line does at band camp. Woodwinds do not accomplish this feat due to their weak legs (in most cases). There are a few exceptions to this weakness, but they don't stand anyway.
STRETCH OUT A term geeks frequently misunderstand as "time to talk".
SUSPENDERS The most effective way to strangle a band geek while still keeping their pants up.
TELEPHONE A communication device that must be answered by Mike Bethune.
TEMPO The correct beat, usually (but not always) carried by the conductor.
TENOR-SAXOPHONE An instrument similar to the bari-saxophone, except it matches the pitch of a trombone or baritone.
TRAVEL UNIFORM Consists of a green shirt, white pants, white shoes, and a pile of potato chips and other junk in your lap. This torturous device (although it is unanimously agreed upon that this is better than the full uniform) is inflicted during bus travel.
TRUMPET An instrument that is designed to make a band sound better. The idea is that if the trumpets play loud enough, you can't hear the rest of the band, so only the trumpets' mistakes are heard, not everyone else's.
TROMBONE A device with the same pitch as a baritone, except that it uses a slide instead of valves, so it's easier to forget the position(s).
TUBA A concert sousaphone.
TUNE What the condition when all instruments are within half a step of each other is called.
VACUUM MAN A band member who has nothing better to do on A-days than wake up and come to school early to vacuum the band room (Joey Weitz). Form of payment: Starbuck's hot chocolate.
VALVE A key object on most brass instruments that sticks only during important performances and solos.
VALVE OIL Exquisitely tasteful with a twist of lemon. A form of currency for brass players. Most important ingredient to a beverage known as "Valve Oil Daiquiri."
VIBE, The†† A frequent occurrence after long exposure to fellow Band Geeks during intense competitions or rehearsals, usually resulting in obsessive compulsive behavior directed towards the band. Know effects are few and are rarely, if ever, reversible. Believed by some to be a sign of mental illness. Scientists are stumped, and frankly, don't care why it occurs.
VISUAL A way of keeping marching band members busy during a show. Extra credit received if used against an on-field judge.
WANNABE BAND GEEK Someone who hangs out with true band geeks.
WATER BREAK An excuse for doing headstands on the field or playing hacky-sack.
WHITE PANTS An article of clothing that is worn to collect mud during Saturday rehearsals when a competition follows the rehearsal.
"WHO'S JACK STAMP?" The most common thing heard during the 1996 marching season.
WOODWINDS 1. A true sign that God has a sense of humor.
2. A biological mistake.
YELLING An expressive way of trying to prove that one is more committed than the next person. This is a self-destructive way of spending any rehearsal, yet we seem to continue in this practice more and more. This is often connected with "the vibe" and being intense.

(C) Copyright 1996-2001 by Ben White (Trumpet) & David Southwick (French Horn). Release 3.
Please visit the Leigh High School Instrumental Music Department Web Site to find out more about the program that inspired the Dictionary!

Special thanks to the following people:
* Written by Trista White
† Written by Nik Maier
° Written by Rachel Maher
** Written by Kevin Ference
†† Assisted by Nina Jacobs
Web Page HTML Assistance, Title Graphic, and Background by Billy Kakes

Permission to save, forward, post, etc. this is granted by creator Ben White as long as the URL of this page is included.

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This page was created on 12/22/96 and revised on 12/28/96, 2/7/97, 2/15/97, 3/13/97, 8/15/97, 2/12/98, 3/30/98, 12/6/98, 10/15/01, and 2/8/4.

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