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Marching bands

Scout (or scout and guide) bands were originally known as drum and bugle marching bands, but as the bugle could only play five notes it limited the music that could be played. Woodwind instruments were added and the brass range widened to allow a full range of music to be played on the march. Scout bands are district or group-based.

There are now over 100 scout bands around the country, practicing one night per week. Many are members of band associations that cater for their differing style (traditional military style, progressive or the showband style based on American drum corps). Each association holds band competitions around the country throughout the season.

A scout band festival is held every two years, where 20-plus scout marching bands compete against each other, based on their own style.

Many marching bands now perform as concert bands. There are also concert bands who generally do not march (except perhaps for St George's Day parades etc).

Bands are greatly appreciated by the local community and civic authorities as they provide much needed musical support at galas, fetes and civic occasions such as Remembrance Sunday. Banding is an expensive operation with the high cost of instruments and uniforms maintenance. It is generally necessary to ask for a donation to cover ever-rising costs.

Two national events which scout bands have always been honoured to participate in over the years have been the Royal Tournament at Earls Court, which sadly does not now take place, and the annual St George's day parade at Windsor Castle, where a scout band has the privilege of playing in the castle quadrangle alongside a guards' band in front of scouts who have achieved their Queen's scout award.

Some band members have found their scout band a good grounding for entry into a military band. There are scout bandsmen in most of the Royal Marine and army bands.

How to run/provide marching bands

There are 2 ways of running Marching bands in Scouting. These are:

  1. Scout-led activity - running marching bands yourself or using someone else in Scouting

  2. Externally-led activity - running marching bands using an external provider

Factsheets on marching bands

The following activity factsheets are relevant to this activity:

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Charity Numbers 306101 (England and Wales) and SC038437 (Scotland).
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