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a marching band in white uniforms

Vocal elements in high school marching band and percussion ensemble performances

In the last few years, there’s one specific type of project that I produce a bit more of every year. I’m not even sure exactly what to call it, as vocal elements for high school marching band and percussion ensemble performances feels a bit cumbersome.

So What Is It, Exactly?

The general idea is this: High school marching bands and percussion groups across America produce routines and compete against one another at outdoor and indoor shows throughout the year. These shows are visually stunning, musically elaborate, and, as it turns out, highly effective storytelling devices. These routines are typically based on a theme, such as historical events, periods of American or world history, or popular culture.

A recent trend in many of these performances is the use of vocal cues or dialogue interspersed throughout the routine. These audio elements are generally short pieces of dialogue, but they’re highly relevant to the context of the performance and allow for clever transitions within the musical score. For instance, a few years ago, a marching band from Georgia produced a show in which the focus was the Vietnam War. In particular, it told the story of a local boy who joined the Army after graduating from school. Through music, choreography, and vocal elements, the marching band told the boy’s story of going through basic training, being deployed, experiencing combat, and his eventual return home. My role in that show was to voice some of the characters referenced in “letters” the boy wrote to friends and family throughout that period. I voiced the boy’s father, a drill sergeant, and the boy as an older man years later. As the son of a Vietnam veteran, this project was especially meaningful to me.

Other voice acting roles I’ve done for high school marching band and percussion group performances include:

  • A 17th century sailor, writing in his journal after a shipwreck
  • Vincent Price
  • Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison
  • Harry Houdini
  • President Barack Obama
  • Retro newsreel announcers
  • A creepy hypnotist
  • Sir David Attenborough
  • Various historical figures
  • Soundalikes representing various actors
  • Various narrator styles

Because the usage of these voice overs is non-commercial and non-broadcast in nature – and because clients are typically public school marching bands – I’m very mindful of keeping my rates in reasonable territory for the budgets in question. If you’re producing a high school marching band, percussion ensemble, or theater performance, and need specific vocal elements to elevate your show, please contact me to discuss options and pricing.

If you would like testimonials and references from band directors, I would be happy to send some your way.