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Hi,

I searched but I couldn't find anything really informative. I'm sure I missed something though. For the past 3 years, I've marched alto and tenor and played baritone for Symphonic and Jazz band. But this year we're getting 2 new baritones and my director wants me to march one of the old ones. I enjoy playing baritone much more than alto and tenor so I said I'd do it. Today while I was practicing, I tried holding it in the "locked in" position (left elbow out, horn perfectly vertical and perpendicular to the ground). Being a pretty small guy, this isn't easy for me to do. I remember seeing other bands with marching baritones and they held it to the side, like one would normally do when standing and playing. Is this really the only way to march with a bari? Would a harness help with that?

Thanks
 

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A Harness would deffiantly help you out some. My expierence with harnesses as a Tenor player is that it gets the weight off you Neck, and onto your shoulders. Which is a very nice comfort. You simply have to march how the director wants you to march. You could ask him if you could march with the horn to the side, but if he says no. Then their is only one thing to tell you.
HIT THE GYM.
 

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IMO, the worst part of marching with a sax is if the make you play the horn completely vertically, exact center of the body, with the neck in line with the bell. That's not natural and causes bad habits. Too many directors are ignorant or just don't give a crap and emphasize the visual effect and uniformity over practicality.

I had problems marching with alto because of this and often didn't actually play much during the halftime show because I didn't want to ingrain any bad habits. Obviously, the problem get bigger as the horn gets larger. Luckily, my college marching band didn't use baris. Not that I would have been marching bari, but I feel sorry for those who would have to, especially if they were forced to position the sax similar to what I had to do for alto.

IMO, it's not a good idea to have baris in marching band.

That said, if your uniform allows you to wear a harness underneath the jacket (ie. buttons down the front where you can stick the clip through) then I would definitely do that. If your uni doesn't allow that then ask your director if he'll allow you to wear a harness over the jacket. Marching band often sacrifices musicality/comfort for the sake of the visual. He might get anal about it and say no but it's worth a shot.
 

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At the university I am at, the Marching Band Direstor will not allow a Baritone Saxophone on the field. I have marched with a Baritone Sax. My advise to you is not to strain yourself at all. If you are in high school, keep the good posture and playing position. If you do not and try to do something your body or the horn will not allow you to do, you run a very real risk of hurting yourself. If your band director is the one forcing you to modify your posture or playing position solely for the appearance and visual aspect it will give and not because of something that is not proper, then do yourself a favor and return to the alto or tenor.

Baritone Saxophones are regal instruments. They fill out nicely and fit well in a big band, wind ensemble, symphonic band, rock band, et c. However, I believe they offer nothing musically to a Marching Band where the force of the drum/percussion line and brass sections overpower everything. If you add a Baritone Saxophone, you might as well add a Bassoon and Contraclarinet.

None of the competitive marching band directors I know ever use a baritone saxophone. I live in the land of the Phantom Regiment and Cadets. I see and hear a few shows a year and have yet to see a Baritone Saxophone in any of the bands.
 

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The saxes are there more for the color and flash that the horns make than they are for the sound. Ditto the clarinets - an instrument that is totally wasted sound-wise in a marching band.

I don't know how I managed to do it, but I avoided all "marching" music save only one brief spell when doing the musical Barnum. Everyone else in that pit orchestra took to the bit of staging that we did like a champ, but I had to learn how to do it from the ground up.

As for other, odd instruments used in marching bands, bassoons were quite common in the several hundred regimental bands employed by Napoleon Ier back in the early 1800's. To paraphrase the old saying, "Six hundred Frenchmen can't be wrong."

In that period, the horn was suspended from the center of the waistcoat (an under-jacket beneath the main uniform jacket) by a ribbon that attached to the ring mounted at the top of the boot joint. The instruments at that time (French system horns slightly smaller than the French horn in use today) were played more in a vertical position as well, at least if period painting are to be believed.

(The button in the waistcoat method was ridiculed by some back in the 1960's, but a historian turned up a period uniform that had been worn by a bandsman (the colors are reversed for the bandsmen, the same as with our Marine Band, which wears the red with blue reversed uniforms from the standard Marine Corps dress blues with red trim) who had been a bassoon player and, plain as day, the appropriate button hole was worn out from the movement of the ribbon.)

I've tried the same setup, and other than the hazard presented by that sharp edged reed at the end of the long crook, there are major problems with balance and intonation. But, it can be done.
 

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SOTSDO said:
I don't know how I managed to do it, but I avoided all "marching" music...
I know how I avoided the issue. I played bass drum in marching band through high school and college. There was no way I would subject my tenor to the thrashing that a horn gets on the field and in the stands.
 

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Ditto the clarinets - an instrument that is totally wasted sound-wise in a marching band.
Not sure if this is relevant, SOTSDO, because you may be referring strictly to a live action marching band, but I was told that Sousa's band was 30% clarinets.
 

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I recomend simply NOT marching bari. You'll probably hurt yourself somehow.

When I do marching band, I play trumpet
 

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I fell while marching with a bari. I was OK.

The bari wasn't.
 

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Martin Williams said:
I recomend simply NOT marching bari. You'll probably hurt yourself somehow.

When I do marching band, I play trumpet
I was going to do pit percussion my last year until they decided not to have it. They wanted more bodies on the field I guess.
 

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I marched a Flying Terd ....I mean....Shooting Star .....Mexiconn when I marched tenor, there was no way I was getting my Buescher soaked, kicked, god knows what elsed.....=P My friend marched Bari though, a harness type strap helps tremendously, and you can kind of get away with not using the full spread in your marching stance because you'll have your right arm so far down the horn...=)

- Pat
 

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I was in fact referring to a marching band, rather than a "concert" band which is what Sousa was associated with, Meredith Willson's lyrics to the contrary.

I can play the baritone "out front", and do so when performing some mindless rock and funk stuff (like the back line to our arrangement of Twist and Shout). However, it is hard on the wrists to keep this up for very long.

And, I have to point out that, hidden in the bowels of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in downtown Indianapolis, there is a photo of a sax quintet belonging to the Rainbow Division's band of music. In that august group, apparently even the bass sax player had to hoof it while honking.

I've had to hump light machine guns on the occasional dismounted ambush when in RVN, and I've worked as a hod carrier as a young man, so walking about with weights awkwardly held is not at all strange to me. However, I'd draw the line at marching with a bass saxophone...
 

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I play an old hunk of junk vito alto for marching. I would NEVER take my bari out there :O
 

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deftones said:
I tried holding it in the "locked in" position (left elbow out, horn perfectly vertical and perpendicular to the ground).
I marched my bari this way during cadence but when it came time to actually put some air through it the horn was hanging at my side.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks guys
I'm going to the shop tomorrow to find a harness. It shouldn't be a problem, I can just have it under the jacket, we leave the jackets open(our uniforms are tuxes). One of the biggest concerns is playing in the stands. I'll probably end up standing most of the time because there's no way I'm letting the horn touch the concrete.
 

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I played bari in marching band last season(it was hell). I fortunately didn't have to keep it in the "locked" position(section leader wanted me to though). And I must tell u it did damage. I was however at a disadvantage to begin with because of my size(5' 10" and 315 pounds). I could not perform at our final performance because my back was trashed. Thins year I play alto(don't like it as much)and it's alto easier on my back. I used a regular neotech strap on the field along with all other situations. I have a neotech superharness but don't use it. this might however be good for you since you're a small gut(i'm not lol). well good luck


BARI PLAYA
 

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Bari Playa said:
I played bari in marching band last season(it was hell). I fortunately didn't have to keep it in the "locked" position(section leader wanted me to though). And I must tell u it did damage. I was however at a disadvantage to begin with because of my size(5' 10" and 315 pounds). I could not perform at our final performance because my back was trashed. Thins year I play alto(don't like it as much)and it's alto easier on my back. I used a regular neotech strap on the field along with all other situations. I have a neotech superharness but don't use it. this might however be good for you since you're a small gut(i'm not lol). well good luck


BARI PLAYA

Haha man, I know how you feel. I marched alto my 3 years of highschool so far, and I'm marching alto again this last coming up year. I'm 6'3'' and about 315 lbs too, but marching my sophomore year I was around 390 (did some serious dieting/exercise), and now I'm back down to 315ish. Well, the fact of the matter is, I would never march bari because of the back thing...that's a big deal with just a neck strap. Alto is great for just that reason :D. And I'm section leader and have been since last year and always make my section look top notch, but let me tell you, if there's a bari player, I would allow him to play by the side.

Me or my friend sebastion would be the only bari marchers anyways, so it's okay ^_^. Good luck with the marching, the back, and losing a few pounds...we could both use it ;].
 

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I marched the bari a bit last year, I wouldn't even go near that thing in Marching band without a harness. I mean, I'm about 6'1", and I'm not exactly muscle bound. It gets tiring after a while, thank goodness it snowed a lot before the St Patricks Day parade in NYC, our band director said we didn't have to go. I switched back to tenor in MB, even though I'm not much of a B flat man. I think biggest problem I had was holding it at attention, it rested on my right hand thumb a lot. Also the bell got in the way of my left hand during the rest position since it comes up so high on bari. As mentioned before, now I know why they don't use marching baris in colleges and universities.
 

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i've marched bari for 3 years now and this is what i tell all the newbies...... .........your sax is supported in 3 places....neckstrap hook, left hand , and the right hand......the neckstrap hook is your pivot point....the right hand holds most of the weight...and the left hand stabalizes the horn and keeps it in position........ ..... .... .... ... ......the rest is just getting used to it...........**also..**.....you should try adjusting the strap/harness to a shorter position while marching, than when playing in a concert setting......this should bring the horn closer to you and make the "rigid position" a little more comfortable
 

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first year marching I played clarinet
second year I played alto sax
third year tenor sax

the fourth year I got smart - and grabbed one of the schools baritone horns!


After my tenor got rained on one too many times I had had enough...

Saxes just can't project like brass on the field anyhow..

AND they handle the abuse much better-
 
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