The Innovative Marching Band

Image result for Drone with camera

When I think of a drone, I think, "That's a cool hobby. The video looks amazing and it would be fun to learn how to fly one." At Central High School, the music department has made it more than a hobby. 

The use of a drone for the Marching Maroons, under the direction of John Currey, started as a solution to a problem. "We could only take video of the marching forms from the sideline, or from a scissor lift," says Stephen Larson, Assistant Marching Band Director. "With the drone, we get a vantage point that makes it easy to see the entire picture."

The process started with Central High Schools administration. "We purchased this for the school because I had seen one used in other venues and at other schools' functions," says Central Principal Joe Williams. "I asked John Woods, Assistant Principal for Facilities and Programs, if he thought there would be a use for it from his point of view.  I also asked our marching band directors if they would use it." After seeing interest from both parties, Williams then purchased the drone, which has been used for athletic practice, performances, and games ever since.

For coaches or teachers interested in possibly using a drone in the future, Mr. Larson also provided a little information on the ease of setting up and using the drone. "The particular model, the Phantom 4, has numerous steps to set up for flying, but they are easy to follow. The company has how-to videos on their website. The controls are also easy to master after a few minutes."

But Larson not only views this as an opportunity to make stunning visuals of the Marching Maroons, but also as a learning opportunity for their students. He shares the footage with the synced audio (provided through a separate device) for students to not only critique and reflect on their sound and movement, but also to look for areas to improve and see their progress from week to week.

For Band Directors that are looking to use a drone in this way, Larson had some advice for accessories as well. "The package our Principal purchased included extra batteries, and a solid storage case for all the equipment." He also recommended a dedicated iPad, multiple micro flash cards for storing videos, a high quality audio recording device, and an extra video camera to use for an audience view angle. 

So if you teach at Central High School and would like to use this drone, it is available to you. If you teach elsewhere, get the conversation started in your school or district. Because having a bird's eye view can help your students gain a whole new perspective.

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