I know that bands in the south spend at least half the school year at marching band practice. My boyfriend was in such a southern band and even went to marching band camp over the summer. Most schools in California are "Concert Bands" and spend most of the year practicing for performances. The one exception for bands is the town parade which most bands participate in.
Every spring, bands in my hometown would practice for the "Rose Parade". It was a typical small town parade with lots of floats, clubs, and organizations walking or driving down the street. The bands were probably a highlight since one school would come with a color guard, a drum major, a band, and sometimes a majorette to entertain the crowd. The floats and the bands were judged and every year the same High School would win first prize. Our band had never won anything and one year our band director decided we would go all out that year and chase the gold.
First, he thought we would get extra points for choosing a non traditional marching band piece to play. He settled on a rendition of Tico Tico thinking the Latin music would be a refresher from all the Cohen the judges would be hearing. Acquiring the musical score for Tico Tico was no easy feat as Japan had the copyright and due to their strict copyright laws, it was not available overseas. He actually had a friend of his buy it in Japan and let him photocopy it for us to play.
Next he worked on our image by finding these old snazzy band jackets left from another time in the back storage of the band room thinking it would win favor with the judges. Finally, he threatened to disown us if we took anything but first prize.... I kid, I kid, but I knew his heart was into us actually placing this year.
The award ceremony came and lo and behold... nothing. Of course, Elsie Allen High School Band gets first place for the billionth time in a row. My band teacher pinned it on the judges actually balking at our song selection and docking even more points for being out of step/line and whatnot. I'm sure he was really disappointed, but most of us knew that we could never compete with Elsie Allen.
Ironically the academically worst school in the city and highly contributing to the gangster population of Santa Rosa, Elsie Allen always took the best prizes during the Rose parade. This was because it was the only band in the city that actually was a genuine marching band. They participated in many parades throughout the area year round and probably spent a significant time on the football field as well. Their uniforms of bright blue and white all around accompanying their marching tall hats were no match for our old fashioned band jackets. I was sure that their band director would switch them if they ever dared to step out of line. They were the kind of band who would dance around while marching *and* playing throughout the parade. While we spent less than a month doing marching band practice, they did it year round. They were unstoppable.
The following years, we went back to traditional marching band music and the two week long practices walking around the track during band class. Though we did get to keep our snazzy jackets as part of our official marching band uniforms to be used that one time of the year for many years to come.
Includes picture of me in the garden by the roses with my alto sax in our new marching band uniform: white, red, and gold jacket with black pants