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The Frequently Asked Questions have 3 major sections:

Is marching band required?

Yes, marching band is required for all students assigned to Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble. It is optional - but highly encouraged! - for students in Concert Band. Plus, Marching Band is considered a varsity sport.

HOWEVER, if you have questions or concerns about how marching band (and band in general) can work with your goals and schedule (classwork, sports, etc.), email Mr. Freeman at

What instrument would I play in the marching band?

Wind players typically play the same instrument in marching band as they do in concert band (with the exception of double reeds). Most large outdoor instruments are provided by the school. Percussionists play on marching drums (the battery) or play mallet instruments on the sidelines (the pit). Percussion assignments are made during our drumline clinics.

I am not in the concert bands program, but I’d like to march - can I?

Yes! We always need a strong visual presence on the field - so having a large and talented color guard is a must. We welcome all students with a passion for music, costumes, and dance to participate in choreographed flag, sabre, and rifle routines as part of our color guard.

Marching Band seems time-intensive. How can I keep up my grades?

Band students are typically very strong academically, but we find that participating in marching band helps you learn to use your time even more efficiently and encourages effective study skills - all of which are critical to your general success in high school and beyond!

In addition, freshmen gain a support network of upperclassmen, who can help ease the transition to high school and provide tips for completing school work during marching season. 

Are parents required to volunteer?

It takes a lot of parent volunteers to run a successful band program - especially during marching season.  On average, it takes 15 volunteer hours per student to do what we do well. Volunteer opportunities are many and varied, so it is easy to find work that matches your skills and interests.

1. What does the band do during a home game?

The Marching Band (MB) and Colorguard (CG) perform a pre-show, play from their section in the stands during the game, perform the competition show at halftime, go to concessions during the 3rd quarter and return to the stands to play during the 4th quarter.

2. Do band members stay for the whole game?


3. Is attendance at home football games mandatory?

YES.  If your student or family has an emergency, illness, or unavoidable conflict, please email and/or text the band director or (color guard coaches) and their section leaders. Remember Marching Band is a team sport with 100% participation, there will be a hole if your student is not there.

4. When do students eat?

Before the report time and during the 3rd quarter.  Water is available for the band throughout the game.

5. Can band members eat in their uniforms?

NO. Band members must remove their uniform jackets, fold them neatly inside out, before eating or drinking anything other than water. Guard must change out of their uniform or wear warmups. This does not apply to the summer uniform.

6. What time does the game start?

Pre-game approximately 6:45 PM, Kick-off 7:00 PM Some games have a unique schedule such as homecoming. Band parents and families often sit in the stands next to the band.

7. Do you need a ticket to get into the game?

YES.  All spectators must purchase a ticket before entering the stadium. The MB members get in for free. Tickets are sold from the ticket booth next to the stadium entrance or online. Tickets are $6 CASH only at the ticket booth.  Plan ahead the ticket booth line gets very long close to kick-off.

8. When is the game over?

Between 9:30 and 10:00 PM.  Plan ahead, the parking lot will be crowded.  It will take students a few minutes to pack-up after the game.

9. What if it rains?

That depends on how hard.  Thunderstorms, the game is delayed or ends. Light rain, the band plays.  It will be the band director's decision.

10. Restrooms?

The restrooms are near the concession stand past the scoreboard.  You cannot get into the school during the game or leave the stadium and return, unless you are wearing a band volunteer lanyard.

11. Does the band need volunteers for home games?

Yes! Please check the weekly newsletter and the band website for the link to the marching band season volunteer Sign-up Genius (SUG) link.

What is a band competition?

IIt is a gathering of high school marching bands performing their halftime shows under strict rules and time limits, hosted at a high school or college. Awards are given. Bands are usually judged on criteria such as musicality, uniformity, visual impact, artistic interpretation, and the difficulty of the music and drill (steps or movement). To make competitions fair, bands are normally split into different classes or divisions. The number of band members determines the class. Here is a link to the Virginia Marching Band Cooperative (VMBC) webpage.

Are competitions mandatory?


Why are they so long?

Each competition is different. Competitions can be an all-day or late into the night event. All band members and volunteers arrive at school early enough, before departure time, to load the buses and the equipment truck. The band must arrive at the competition at least 2 ½ hours before their performance time to allow for unloading the buses and equipment trailers, changing into uniforms, stretching, warming up and walking to the gate of the stadium with all instruments, PIT equipment, and props. Often, after they perform, they watch other bands and wait for the awards ceremony. During this time the percussion equipment and props are loaded into the equipment trailers by the student trailer loading crew (and some parents). After the awards, everyone returns to load the buses to return to FHS. A detailed schedule is created and shared with all band families before each competition.

How does the band travel to the competition?

By bus, school or  coach buses.

How do the band members know which bus to get on?

A bus assignment Sign-Up will be posted before the first competition for students to sign-up for which bus they want to be on. The bus assignments are the same for all competitions.

What if my student wants to change buses?

A bus change must be approved by the band director and the competition coordinator.

What does a band member bring on the bus?

Their complete uniform, hat, gloves, instrument and accessories. Most instruments go under the coach bus. Most items are carried onto a school bus and large instruments are stored in the trailers.  For color guard, competition uniform, show uniform, makeup, accessories and after performance uniform, change of shoes. Depending on the travel time length, snacks, pillow, blankets, cards.   

What are Spirit Boxes?

Spirit Boxes are optional, fun decorated shoe boxes exchanged between section members on some competition day. This is something directed by the Drum Majors and Section Leaders. Your student will receive a list of a fellow student’s likes, such as chips, soda, candy. Items are placed in a box and delivered when they report to the band room before a competition. It is a fun way to have a little surprise and snacks for the bus ride. If you have questions, you or your student should contact their section leader.

Why do students need to wear shorts/sweats and show shirts under their uniforms?

That way they can take off their uniform to eat or travel more comfortably. Plus in cold weather, they have extra layers to keep warm.

Where does The Guard change?

Sometimes in changing areas or in the bathrooms at the stadium or school, but most often before we leave Fairfax HS. If it is cold they will need extra layers under their after-performance uniform.

When does the band eat?

No food and only water, please if the band is wearing any part of their uniform. No eating when wearing their band jackets. Often the band will have a chance to purchase a meal or snacks from concessions during the competition. So students should bring some cash. Sometimes we ask the students to bring a meal to eat on the bus or pre-packaged meals are purchased. Water is always available when the band arrives at the event and during warm-up. What food options are available are always listed in the detailed schedule.

Can parents and families attend?

YES!  We need our cheering section!  Arrive early and enjoy other bands before FHS performs.

Is there an entrance fee?

YES. Every competition is different, fees are between $10 to $25 per person. Plus extra for a program.

What if my student will be late to the competition, such as SAT testing?

You or your student must email and speak with the band director and make arrangements for arrival time and a meeting place. Please email the Competition Coordinator with the details.

What if my student is sick or has an unavoidable conflict?

You or your student must email and if possible, speak with the band director as soon as possible. He will approve an excused absence. Please email the Competition Coordinator with the details.

If I’m a chaperone, do I have to ride the bus?


If I'm a Pit or Prop/DMS volunteer can I ride on the bus?

YES, most of the time.

If I’m a volunteer for the Pit or Prop crew/DMS and I’m not a chaperone do I have to ride on the bus?

NO. You do need to arrive close to when the band arrives at the event to help move equipment to warm up and then to the performance. Or some parent volunteers come closer to the performance time just to help pull the equipment on and off the field. Also, many volunteers stay until the truck is loaded for its return to FHS.

If I’m a volunteer, do I need to pay the entrance fee?

It depends on the competition and how many free passes we are given. If you are a Pit or Prop volunteer, no, you will get a pass to be on the field.

What if we want our student to drive home with us and not on the bus?

If your student is not returning to Fairfax HS on the bus, notify the band director and the student and parent must speak with their bus chaperone before leaving.

After the competition, how do we know when they will be arriving at FHS?

We ask the students to text or call their parents about half an hour before we will arrive at FHS. Plus, the approximate arrival time will be posted on Facebook.

Can my student walk home after a competition?

NO. A responsible adult must pick up all students, only parents can walk home with a student.

How do I reach my student in an emergency?

Try your student's cell phone. If you don’t reach your student then call the Competition Coordinator, their information is always listed on the schedule.  

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