Gary E. Smith

Author’s Preface

Outstanding marching bands and drum corps are established from a solid foundation of fundamentals. Performance improves in direct proportion with the maturation of the basic principles. Therefore, developing a process of continuous learning and development is imperative for the chosen leaders of any band.

Marching bands and drum corps have been evolving for decades—from providing entertainment at sporting events and parades, to performing at competitions and festivals. The diversity of these organizations makes it challenging to establish a “one size fits all” approach to every situation.

It is not surprising then, that there is no standardization of terminology, teaching methods or drill design techniques that can be universally applied. To compensate, some organizations fill this void by developing their own methods to achieve consistency in their performances.

The System - Marching Band Methods, is the quintessential resource for augmenting an existing marching band program or developing a new one from the ground up. It is my hope that the directors and leaders responsible for teaching or administering any marching organization, value the significance of creating and refining a system to attain their highest level of performance.


Associate Director of Bands and
Director of the Marching Illini, Emeritus
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
President of the American Bandmasters Association (ABA)—2018

Gary Smith received his B.A. degree from Butler University and his M.A. degree from Ball State University. He started his career as Director of Bands at Northside High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1964–68. Following, he became the Director of Bands at Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana, from 1968–72. Next, Gary was hired as Assistant Director of Bands and Marching Band Director from 1972–76 at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana.

From 1976–1998 and again in 2004, Gary was the Associate Director of Bands at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where he conducted the nationally renown Marching Illini, Basketball Band, and Symphonic Band II. He also taught marching band procedures, and band arranging in the School of Music.

In 1988 Gary was elected to be a member of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. In 2015, he was elected to serve as the president in 2018. In addition, he is a member of Phi Beta Mu, Phi Mu Alpha, and Kappa Kappa Psi music honorary fraternities, and participates in the College Band Director’s National Association, National Band Association, and the Florida Music Educators Association.

In 2005, he assisted with the production of the Orange Bowl Halftime. In 2007, Gary served as co-director of the Oklahoma Centennial All State Marching Band, which was featured during the 2007 Rose Bowl Parade opening ceremonies. In 2015, Gary designed and produced the Singapore Youth Honor Marching Band for the finale performance for Singapore’s 50th Anniversary of Independence Youth Celebration.

Gary is the former owner of the Smith Walbridge Clinics, a summer camp for drum majors, colorguard, marching percussion, marching band student leaders, and band directors, where he continues to serve as a clinician. Since 1949, these clinics have attracted thousands of high school and college students from across the United States, and several foreign countries.

Presently, he serves as the producer of the annual Disney Thanksgiving Parade of Bands held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. Since 1987, he has also served as the coordinator of the band festivities for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. In addition, he is the conductor of the Bonita Springs Concert Band in Bonita Springs, FL. Alongside this, he is an adjunct faculty member at the Florida Gulf Coast University, where he teaches marching band methodology.

Over his entire career, Gary has been hired as a consultant, guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States, Singapore, China, Australia, Japan, Canada, Ireland, and France. His self-published textbook, The System–Marching Band Methods, was acquired by the music publishing company GIA Publications, Inc., in 2016.

Contributing Authors

Dr. Corey Spurlin

Associate Director of Bands
Auburn University

—Chapter XII. Drill Design

Dr. David Waybright

Director of Bands
University of Florida

—Chapter XIII. Conducting/Tests

Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser

—Chapter I. Leadership/The Selection
& Development of Student Leaders

Barry L. Houser

Associate Director of Bands
University of Illinois,
President of Smith Walbridge, Inc.

—Chapter IV. The Drum Major

Tom Keck

Director of Bands
Utah Valley University

—Chapter X. Marching Percussion

Mark Greenburg

Managing Director at Tresóna
—Chapter II. Music/Copyright Laws

Chris Borgard

Certified Strength &

Conditioning Specialist
Cal Poly State University

Jim Bailey

D’Addario & Company/

Evans Percussion

—Chapter X. Marching Percussion/
Tuning Drums

Sara K. Clark Maccabee

Colorguard Specialist
—Chapter XI. Colorguard