How to Turn Corners in Parades

Admittedly, The Beat Goes On Marching Band is not the first thing that comes to mind when someone says "precision marching". However, there are a few simple things we can do to help look organized and kinda sharp on the parade route. One of them is to turn corners correctly. Our usual problem is that people start the turns too soon and "swing out" to try to keep the files in a straight line, which doesn't work. Here's the way it ought to work.

Here the band is heading "up" the page, preparing to make a right-hand turn. Those spiffy red dots are band members; the gray things that look like sheep or clouds or something are the crowd.

Note that the front rank is still completely horizontal; i.e., nobody has started to turn yet.

The first rank has now started the corner. The person on the inside of the turn acts as a hinge; the rest of the rank acts as a gate.

Note that the second rank is still completely horizontal and has not started the turn yet. This leads to IMPORTANT RULE #1: Do not start to turn until all the members of your rank have actually reached the intersection.

Now we've got two ranks into the turn. Note that the person on the inside of the turn is closer than usual to the rank in front of him/her, while the person on the outside of the turn is much farther away than usual. This is IMPORTANT RULE #2: You can't keep constant front-to-back spacing while you're in the midst of a turn; people on the inside get closer than usual to the rank in front of them, people on the outside get farther away than usual.

Also note that the third rank is still horizontal and has not yet started the turn.

The first rank has completed the turn and is back in its usual formation; ranks two and three are in the turn, rank four is getting ready to start. Note that if you're a person in rank four, you may feel like you're no longer "in line" with the people in the file in front of you. If you incorrectly try to get into a straight line, you'll march too far to your left; i.e., you'll "swing out" into the curve (our usual mistake). This leads to IMPORTANT RULE #3: Don't try to be in a "straight line" with the rest of your file while you're in a turn. Instead, recognize that your file is now curved, and that's an okay thing.
The second rank has completed the turn. Note that the first two ranks are now back in their usual spacing, and are proceeding to the right at their usual speed. If you think about it, you'll realize that the ranks that are "in the turn" can't be moving at that same speed. This leads to IMPORTANT RULE #4: The person on the inside of a turn moves more slowly than usual (smaller steps), the person on the outside of a turn has moves more quickly than usual (bigger steps).

Notice that each rank continues to obey Important Rule #1 by staying straight across the street until it reaches the intersection.

Usually, we guide to the right side of the rank while we're on the march. In a turn, however, each person is moving at a different speed and it's harder than usual to stay in line. The person at the inside of the corner has the least work to do, so we make him/her responsible for keeping everyone else aligned. This leads to IMPORTANT RULE #5: Guide to the inside (pivot) person when in a turn.

Here the last rank is finally beginning the turn. Note that they still swing around just like all the other ranks; i.e., they don't start marching "up the page" to try to make the files straight (i.e., they continue to obey Important Rule #3).
The last rank swings around the last part of the curve. By now the sheep, er, the crowd is cheering wildly. Ladies throw kisses; grown men weep at the magnificence and precision we've shown.
With the turn completed, we're all back in normal spacing and heading to the right. The whistle has blown to call a roll-off of another tune, and the trumpets are complaining bitterly that we're playing too often and they're losing their lips <grin>.
Here's the whole turn in glorious animation!


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