Gary E. Smith’s prolific achievements and reputation in his career of music education has earned him one of the highest honors of being elected president of the American Bandmasters Association (ABA) in 2018.

First published in 1984, The System–Marching Band Methods is the quintessential marching band instruction textbook intended for music students, drum majors, colorguard, college music majors and band directors. It covers all the methods for building, improving and maintaining an outstanding marching band organization. The book is also co-authored by many leading band directors and specialists in various fields of music education.

Over the years, the book has undergone many editions. This edition has been completely redesigned and includes a substantial amount of new material.

Book Chapters

I. Leadership

  • Leadership Principles
  • Student Leadership
  • The Selection & Development of Student Leaders
  • Group Psychology
  • Interesting Facts About Geese
  • System + Spirit = Success
  • Quotes for Success
  • Suggested Reading

II. Music

  • Style
  • 5 Basic Elements of Good Musicianship
  • Achieving Uniform Balance
  • Internalization: The Key to Precision
  • Editing Existing Arrangements
  • Common Music Problems
  • Music Copyright Laws

III. Marching

  • Drill Terminology
  • Style & Precision
  • Commands & Standing Basics
  • Posture & Styles
  • Transitions
  • Marching While Playing
  • Common Marching Problems

IV. Rehearsals

  • Band Camp
  • Effective Rehearsals with Results
  • Practice Formations
  • Wellness Considerations for Band Camp
  • Stretching Exercises Before Marching
  • Warming Up & Tuning the Winds
  • Teaching & Cleaning Drill

V. Parades

  • Music Selection & Formations

VI. Measurements & Grid Systems

  • Grid Systems
  • Hash Marks Margin-of-Error

VII. Drill Design

  • Show Development Process
  • Design Schedule
  • Developing a Show Concept
  • Selection of Sound & Visual Content
  • Design Skills for Drill Writers
  • Sketching Process
  • Placement of Performers
  • Perspective, Spacing & Staging
  • Concepts of Movement
  • Coordination of Sound & Movement

VIII. Conducting

  • Hand Positions & Posture
  • Preparatory Beat Exercises
  • Beat Patterns
  • Hand Gestures
  • Developing Style
  • Music Terminology
  • Exercises
  • Transposition Charts
  • Tests

IX. The Drum Major

  • Audition Process
  • Keys to Success
  • Showmanship & Salutes
  • Signals

X. Marching Percussion

  • Grip Techniques
  • Battery Instruments
  • The Ensemble
  • Equipment
  • Tuning Drums
  • Technique Exercises

XI. The Colorguard

  • Getting Started
  • Show Design
  • Rehearsal Techniques
  • Common Troubleshooting

XII. Administration

  • Music Library
  • Attendance Records
  • Organizing Trips
  • Rehearsal Planning
  • Publicity & Promotions
  • Property Management
The system marching band

Marching Band Programs Using It

The System–Marching Band Methods is used by numerous prestigious universities, colleges, high schools and summer camps/clinics across the country. It provides the foundation for establishing best practices on developing a system for building a memorable marching band program.