Skip to content

Who Leads a Marching Band?

Marching bands are normally formed by a large group of players, which originates the need for leadership that organizes such a number of elements. Some marching bands can have between 200 and 400 members and sometimes can have as many as 600 people. Having a hierarchy of leadership is extremely important for any band since they contain multiple members. So, who leads a marching band?

There are many positions in a marching band but only the directors and band directors (or the the drum majors in the absence of the first ones) are the leading figures. Different bands might have different titles for these individual leaders. Regardless of the name, each leader performs a certain function.

Who Is the Leader of a Marching Band?

The Band Director

A marching band director leading the band
The marching band director of Michigan, leading the band.
Source: Michigan Marching Band

The leader of a marching band is known as the band director. This individual is the main person over the whole entire band department. They are typically tenured individuals that have spent many years at a university, college, or high school. Band directors are given the authority to control the band. They can make decisions about scholarships, the program’s regulations, rules, and requirements, and they also decide the direction that the band will go.

Band directors can also be known as conductors.

The band director has the ultimate authority over everything that happens within from the music that is being played, the formations, and the overall way in which the band will function. They also handle the business aspects of the band as well. There are other positions beneath the band director. These individuals are also essential to how a band function.

What Are Other Leadership Positions in a Marching Band?

There is also a hierarchy of leadership under the band director. The assistant director has the same duties and the director. However, these individuals do not have the final authority on how the band functions. Still, they will replace a band director if they can longer function within their position.

The Role of Drum Majors

Drum Major performing
Drum Major performing

Drum majors are next in line within a band’s structure. Leading the percussion section of the marching band, they serve a crucial role and are the liaison between the band director and the band members. The band major’s role is to deal directly with the band members and to carry out the direction of the band director.

They are important for keeping order in a band and they are the ears and eyes of the band director. If you pay close attention, they are seen on the field leading the band members. They also let the director know what is happening within the band at the grassroots level.

Assistant Drum Major

An assistant drum major assists the drum major within a band. They have the same functions as the band major accept, they do not directly answer to the director or assistant director. Assistant drum majors are given some of the routine tasks of the drum major to perform every day.

Band Secretaries

Band secretaries handle the marketing, publicity, and other outward factors of a band. In other words, they are responsible for scheduling events, acquiring meeting locations, and they’re responsible for how a band is being perceived by the general public. They too handle some of the business aspects of band leadership. Directors, assistant directors, and band majors generally work close with band secretaries to ensure their band is being properly represented. Band secretaries handle the marketing and business end of a band. They generally will not deal directly with the music or members.

Section Leaders

Section leaders are important because they are responsible for keeping their individual sections in line. Sections such as percussion, wind brass (or brass wind), strings, and woodwinds.

Section leaders carry out the orders of the drum major and they manage their members.

Equipment managers

Equipment managers are responsible for maintaining the equipment and keeping it in good condition. They have to report any problems or issues with instruments. Their job is extremely important because the instruments form the background of the band. Uniform managers are also important.

They are in an equal position with the equipment manager. Uniform managers must ensure that band members have clean and well-maintained uniforms. This is important because the band plays a huge part in an organization’s public image.

Leaders of a Marching Band