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Color guard - a how to

Mr McMusic captainJul '08
Doc McFluhry asked me to post some hints and suggestions regarding color guard staging, etc. I realize I’m not the best drill writer here but I do know my color guard as I’ve been involved with it for more than half my life. (God, I’m old). So, here goes . . .

One of my personal pet peeves is to go to a marching contest and see that the director and/or drill writer has relegated the guard to the back field and left them there to spin their fingers off without ever having the chance to really get involved in the show.

My personal philosophy is that the guard can and should be used to enhance the visual aspects of a show. Use your guard to highlight impact sets by allowing them to cover sections of the field that look bare and unused. If you are doing a “wide open” drill rather than one with close, tight intervals, you can use your guard to “fill in” that space of the drill. Remember than unlike the drum line and the brass sections, the guard doesn’t necessarily have to be kept together at all times. In fact, it’s much more effective if they aren’t.

With regard to spacing/intervals for your color guard, you should remember that they are using poles that are usually 6 feet in length (at least) and sometimes longer. Therefore, you want at least 4 steps between each guard member. If you are going to have them in a tight formation as a transitional point between sets, then use your “A” key to bring the flags in and down so it doesn’t appear that any flag work is taking place or you could have the flags at “right shoulder” which means the flags are in a straight up and down position, but don’t move the flags from that position until you have spread the intervals back out. This will help with the realism factor.

Next, what some people see as a “collision” (the dreaded ‘c’ word) with guard is 99% incorrect. Sometimes for the sake of a set or drill transition, you have no choice but to tell a guard member that their next position on the field is “over there” and “get there the fastest way you can”. This means you will often have guard members running through horn and percussion lines to get to their next set. In my opinion, this is perfectly acceptable because you have no other options but to take 3 or 4 sets to get them around another section to get to their position and that is a waste of sets/time.

Now, I know this was really lengthy but I hope it helps. If you have any other questions about color guard that I didn’t answer, leave a post here or leave me a comment on my profile and I’ll offer you my best advice/help.

And remember to always be sweet around here. ;)
EricNewmanEd Jul '08
Thanks, that actually helped a lot. I don't know much about guard, so this information will definitely be used in my shows in the future.
Jordan Taylor captainJul '08
That was meant for me, wasn't it?


Either way... thanks for this. It will be a benefit to many of us here on MML!
Gems Jul '08
This is gonna be helpful, thanks McMusic, you're always a good help.
Mr McMusic captainJul '08
No, Jordan. LOL! It wasn't for you. Doc asked me to put this up. Your comment came later. LOL! BTW, Jordan, it was really a good show!
DocMcFluhry Jul '08
Yeah, guys it was for me, but i thought you'd all want it as well. I'm nowhere near proficient in the guard area, so I thought i'd ask the one person i know who is.
Jordan Taylor captainJul '08
Thanks... I really appreciate it. That's the longest I've ever worked on a show... I just really need to work on my inclusion of guard and percussion. You can tell I'm a hornline person... lol. But really, thanks for your input... I'll make sure to keep that in mind next time!

I agree... you definately asked the right person! He knows his stuff! =)
Sam Doss Jul '08
wow, thank you so much Mr McMusic! maybe now I won't have to pretend to know what I'm doing when I write shows with the guard... lol...
Danderson Jul '08
Very very nice
Yoyoyo Jul '08
This might sound minor but also what some people look over in guard flag visuals is when they randomly pick up flags out of no where

in example: guard member has their flag up then puts it down hands free then moves 40 yards then flag up out of no where. Now I know sometimes flag placements are made before the start of the show but since we only have one flag color I guess that means we only have one flag right? Now they could be pulling the flag by hand but I believe when the designer decides to put the guards hand free he/she's letting them dance.
Just something to look over in realism factors.
Mr McMusic captainJul '08
Very good point.
Sam Doss Jul '08
I usually give people the benefit of the doubt on that issue, because idk what they were visualizing the guard doing when they wrote the show... I guess I just don't want to give somebody a bad score just because they couldn't adequately express a good idea... but that's just me...
DocMcFluhry Jul '08
I usually let it slide as well, it's just a game. I'm not expecting them to have every detail down, and I'm guilty of it as well, so..
Mr McMusic captainJul '08
I do as well. It was a point well made, but like Sam said, I don't know what was in their thinking process as they wrote their show.

Also, I'm glad this thread has been of some help to you all. Your comments have been very nice. Thanks.
JJJJ Jul '08
if realism is the name of the game.. I was wondering if on the next beta version if other guard affects could be added... (sabre/rifle) and flag tosses?
Milo Cushman Aug '08
Also, consider changing the person to person spacing, many a boring show keeps the guard at a 6 or 8 for the whole number, not realizing that with the silks they can easily finish off a "picture" at a 12 or even 16 spacing and "accordion" the members to a few different spacings through the show.
VinnyE Aug '08
In some cases- a guard member with no flag may just represent that they've got the flag stripped (silk held tight against the pole) and the pole hidden behind their arm/body. This is really open to interpretation. With the limited selection of flag moves we can do right now, you have to assume that the designer is implying that there is more flag work than actually seen. It's tough, but it's what we have to work with- good use of work should at least attempt to give the viewer the impression that something is going on between the sets- but since that's so subjective we have to be a little forgiving if the guard work looks a little sparse until Joe gets to a point where he can give us a better variety of tools.
Bryan Longe Sep '08
I'm only mentioning this because it seems to be absent in most people's shows, because honestly i think the guard doing the same stuff the entire show is boring even if it looks "cool". So ... one way to really heighten the guard's visual impact is to do opposite flag work ... i.e. your guard is in 2 lines and you have one line spin to the left and the other to the right, it seems really simply (because it is!) but its really an effective visual, espcially in halted sets. If you're doing a competition where there's a category for guard I'm pretty sure your score will be higher than if you do just plain old flag work.
bando09swimmer Sep '08
thanks for that. it helps a lot. and i deffinitely agree with the "c" word. most CG drill are scatter or get there some how lol

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