top of page


drum major salutes during band review competition
students led by drum major in marching band review competition


Band Review Tutorial


Band reviews are some of the greatest opportunities in our student musicians’ lives. This is the chance to perform what the students have worked so hard on, receive critical feedback from the judges, and receive a lot of applause and encouragement from audiences. These are the kinds of experiences that define a young person’s memories of high school most profoundly. They are also tremendous opportunities for you as a parent to see your student working and interacting with a wide variety of other students as well as see what parents from other schools do for their groups. There is no other activity quite as immersive as being a parent volunteer at band review events.


For new band families, band reviews can be overwhelming. This tutorial will help you understand what such an event entails from a parent’s perspective.

Each band review has two primary events—parade and field show. At a few shows, there are also concert and jazz events. Del Mar participates in parade, field, and concert (where available on our schedule).


Parade is pretty self-explanatory. The parade competition includes warm up and staging times before the band steps off into the actual competition. The parade route has zones designated for percussion competition, silence, and the competitive performance. Parent volunteers often follow their band on the sidelines, usually with water, lint brushes and the first aid kit, taking care not to interfere with any judges.


A field show is equivalent to an athletic game. The field show is a themed “football half-time” show. The marching band is supported by pit percussion with color guard and field props adding visual effects. Each field show competitor has 15 minutes to enter the field, perform their show, and exit the field or the band is penalized for exceeding their time. Parent volunteers help with the pit percussion and props during the band’s entrance and exit. Since we only have five “regular games” per season, each field show is extremely important.

A Typical Band Review Day

A week before a review, all participants and their families receive a detailed schedule through email. If you or your student does not have email, hard copies are available in the band room. The schedule will be as accurate as possible. The schedules are very detailed – down to the minute! From the detailed schedule, students and parent volunteers will know meeting times, meal or snack times, prep (hair, make up, uniform) times, rehearsal, or free times. If we are going to be delayed in returning, the director will send a message using the BAND app to all subscribers. 


Parent volunteers create a “base camp” to support the students at the host school. They bring equipment for preparing meals or assembling snacks or to help remind the students to keep their uniform neat. Prior to the day of the event, parent volunteers organize amongst themselves and Mr. Burkhead what food will be served and what needs to be purchased from the booster funds.

Feste Del Mar

Feste Del Mar is our home show. Bands come from all over the state to our corner of the world, and we roll out the red carpet! As hosts, students and parents work throughout the day on a very precise schedule assisting our guest bands as well as preparing for our own performances. The usual order is as follows: concert, parade, and after the first awards ceremony, field show. As a parent volunteer, you may be called upon to help with various aspects, including parking, security, ticket and program sales, signage, student food sales, food for judges, directing student volunteers, and/or readying Del Mar students for their performances. There are many jobs available, and many hands make light work! Not to mention it is a downright exciting place to be!


A lot of preparation goes into hosting Feste Del Mar. Since we have hosted this band review for nearly two decades, there are a lot of parents who have been involved and “know the ropes”. Planning takes place months in advance where committee heads do general planning and additional volunteers help out as needed. Parent and student volunteers on the day of the event are scheduled so even if someone has only an hour or two, they can contribute. Volunteer needs are at the highest on the day of the event. Before participating bands arrive, last minute set up is done. After the bands leave, volunteers are needed to help the kids take down or put things away. It is a long day, but, a very fulfilling one!


Other Reviews

The other band reviews can be between two and three hours away and typically flow as follows:


Early Morning—Band and color guard arrive at Del Mar and board the bus in front of the school. Make sure your student has his or her instrument if it is not already on the trailer, black socks, and any other items needed for being off site all day. After a quick head count, we head out. If you are running late for any reason, call the director immediately. If the bus has to leave in order to stay on schedule, a parent driving separately may be able to wait a few more minutes. Some parent volunteers may ride on the bus if there is room.


Later Morning—Band and color guard arrive and set up camp. Parent volunteers set up the uniform items so students can dress after warmup.

During Warmup—Parent volunteers set up preplanned care and feeding. Often that means healthy snacks and water. If we will be providing a full meal, prep takes place during this time.


Parade—This event is usually early morning. After returning from the parade performance, the students change into their casual uniforms (polo shirt and black pants or shorts), hang their marching uniforms neatly on the rack, and put their instruments in cases. Only then may they line up for snacks and/or a meal.


Post-Parade Awards—The band goes into warmup mode again. Sometimes we do a partial dress in uniform before this, sometimes not—it depends on the particular band review.


Final Warmup—This happens about an hour before the field performance. Parent volunteers are often needed to assist with moving pit percussion and field props. Most band reviews will provide a limited number of wristbands for helpers, which are distributed first to student “roadies” who are not part of the band, then to parent volunteers. If there are not enough wristbands, remaining parent volunteers will need to purchase a ticket from the host if at all possible. 


Entering the Field—This is timed very precisely, moving with purpose. Ideally, everyone learns in advance where the equipment is to be placed. After placing your assigned equipment, move to the space in front of the viewing stands for the performance.


During the Performance—Watch and applaud. Take video and pictures. Enjoy!


End of Performance—As soon as the drum major gives the final salute, the support team grabs the equipment and moves with purpose off the field. The exit direction varies at each site, so be aware of the directions coming from the staff.


Post-Performance—Band and color guard return to camp and change completely from their marching uniforms to their casual uniforms for the remainder of the day. Uniform supervisors set the drum major, color-guard captain, and percussion captain uniforms aside for the awards ceremony later.  After students and parent volunteers load the instruments, uniforms, and any other equipment onto the trailer, the students receive their wristbands for re-entry to the stadium to watch the other bands. All students are expected to watch the other groups, being supportive and respectful. Although parent volunteers are not required to sit with the students, it is encouraged to ensure that students are always on their best behavior.


Departure—After the awards ceremony, all students immediately proceed to the bus for departure.


Back at School—Upon arrival at Del Mar, everyone helps unload the trailer and put away all the equipment, uniforms, and props. Everyone stays to help. Therefore, parents arriving to pick up students are strongly encouraged to pitch in, because no one can leave until everything has been stored and the director releases them. During this time, the director compiles and posts the scores from the day. In general, parents can pick up students approximately 30 minutes after our expected return time provided everything has been secured.


Concert Band Exception—When we are also participating in concert competition, the schedule adjustments include:

  • If a student is participating in the concert band performance only, he or she may be picked up by a parent or legal guardian after the uniforms and equipment have been securely stowed. 

  • Note: When the band and color guard are at a venue other than Del Mar, Mr. Burkhead releases a concert band student to a parent or legal guardian only. Please set this up in advance and bring appropriate identification if necessary.


Band reviews are experiences like no other. Here is what alumni and parents have to say:


  • Dani Goodall-Barlow, flautist and drum major, Class of 2010Band reviews were some of my favorite aspects of marching band. Honestly, it wasn’t even about competing for a trophy. It was seeing all the incredible bigger bands perform, meeting other musicians from other schools, the excitement for your own band participating, and having a killer salute for accepting a trophy. My favorite memory is doing all our school cheers in the bleachers, laughing and having a blast. Looking back, it was safe, clean fun. Having my mom be a part of it made it special, too. It was fun to have her involved helping serve food and spot clean uniforms. She was a huge reason my year of being drum major was a smooth success.” 


  • Julie Goodall, former DMHSPAA President and alumni “band mom,” a.k.a., “Mama G”: "Having played in high school band myself, I already knew the value of participating in field shows and parades! And band friends are like family. In fact, I married one of them! But my first experience with band reviews was with my daughter, Dani, at Del Mar. It is the one of the most fulfilling, exhilarating experiences in my years of volunteering. What an honor to serve shoulder to shoulder with other dedicated parents all working hard to help our children be the best they could be! And what an honor to serve those kids! These are defining moments in their lives, and watching them “work” is nothing short of amazing. I shed many a tear watching my daughter do what she loved, not to mention watching her lead. I know time is a scarce commodity, but it is also precious, and watching your child grow in a program that fosters friendship, leadership, responsibility, accountability and excellence is such a privilege! Just say yes! You won’t regret it, and Mr. B needs you!


  • Julie Morgan-Hoopes, former DMHSPAA President and alumni “band mom”: “My experience with the Del Mar High marching band and color guard was excellent! My son, Bailey, played percussion in marching and concert band, and served as drum captain three years. While participating in band reviews, he learned so much about being a part of a team, leadership, respect, and accountability that he instills into his own percussion students today. Bill Burkhead created an environment where all were welcome, and made it very clear that each member of his band and guard were treated equally, and that no one member was more important than the other. Even after our son had graduated, Bill still was an integral part of our family during a very difficult time. It would seem that Bill is always leader of his band for both present and alumni members.

bottom of page