Marching Band 101: The Instruments

Being part of a marching band is pretty special. When it’s done right, it can be a pretty tightly knit community that’s full of positive support. But first things first, to be in a marching band you need to play an instrument.

If you’re interested in joining a marching band, it’s important to know the different sections so you can pick which one is a good match for you.


These instruments are often called “lip movement” instruments. This section in a marching band is usually comprised of these instruments:

  • French Horn
  • Tuba
  • Trumpet


These instruments are usually responsible for the beat of the band. They often provide a guide for the step or formation that the band is going to take. In a marching band, the usual percussion instruments you can find are:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbals
  • Timpani
  • Xylophone
  • Glockenspiel

While there is some confusion between a xylophone and a glockenspiel, it should be noted that xylophones are usually wooden and glockenspiels are metal.


These instruments are often responsible for the melodious parts the band performance. If you want to be in the woodwind section, you can select one of these instruments:

  • Clarinet
  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • Saxophone

Each of these sections has their own particular appeal and tricks to make them work. It would be important to check your local instrument shops in your area to see what’s available and what calls to you. An instrument isn’t something that you just choose; you need to be able to have an interest in it to begin with. Here is a question you can ask yourself before you choose:

Can I carry this for a long period of time?

Long hours of rehearsals are no joke. Imagine having to carry something heavy like a saxophone for extended periods of time. While there are harnesses that can help you with the weight, your endurance should also be taken into account.

When you’re able to narrow down your choices and be partnered with just the right instrument, the experience can be really amazing.