Marching Championship Rules & Guidelines

The Marching Championship

Director’s Choice

 Rules and Guidelines

Why The Marching Championship?

The Marching Championship was developed by Director’s Choice to strengthen the principles and foundations of musical excellence in marching band by emphasizing student performance as the core component of evaluation.

Director’s Choice presents The Marching Championship as an innovative alternative for music educators who value execution, instruction, and performance. We believe in creating genuine connections between performer and audience through excellence in musicality and performance, so this contest places more emphasis on the execution of a true marching band performance over the production value of a show.  

We hope you’ll join us at The Marching Championship!

Director’s Choice hosts two types of contests: a Regional contest, typically hosted at a premier high school or university stadium, and a National contest hosted in San Antonio, Texas, at the Alamodome.

  1. Entry Eligibility
  1. All bands composed of students up to and through the twelfth grade are eligible.
  2. Regional and National contests are open for enrollment on a first-come, first-served basis up to the maximum enrollment. There are no qualifying contests to attend.
  3. All classification changes must be made 21 days prior to the first day of the event.
  4. Groups performing with fewer student participants than classification entered will not be allowed to drop classifications after the 21-day window for changes.
  5. If a group performs with more than maximum wind members for the registered classification, they will be raised to the appropriate classification
  6. The deadline for entry is 60 days prior to the event.

  1. Classifications of Performing Groups
  1. Classification will be determined by group size as follows:
  1. The 4 classifications are determined by dividing the number of groups by 4 and then by the number of student performers in each group from fewest to greatest.

Class A

Class AA

Class AAA

Class AAAA

  1. Awards
  1. Prelims
  1. All performing bands will receive a placement award or participation award.
  2. First, Second and Third place will be awarded for each classification.
  3. Caption awards will be given for Outstanding Musical Performance, Outstanding Visual Performance, Outstanding Color Guard/Auxiliary Performance, and Outstanding Percussion
  1. Finals (Finals competition is open classification.  The top ten ranked bands regardless of class will advance.)
  1. The Champion, 1st and 2nd Runnerup will receive Finals placement awards.
  2. Caption awards will be given for Outstanding Musical Performance, Outstanding Visual Performance, Outstanding Color Gaurd/Auxiliary Performance, and Outstanding Percussion Performance.

  1. Adjudication
  1. 5 Judges plus a Field Official
  1. 3 Music Judges
  2. 2 Visual Judges
  3. Field Official (responsible for timing and safety regulations)
  1. 2 Caption Judges (Caption judges carry no weight on ensemble placement unless there is a visual tie for Outstanding Visual Performance)
  1. 1 Percussion Judge (evaluating percussion caption only)
  2. 1 Color Guard/Auxiliary Judge (evaluating color guard/auxiliary caption only)
  1. Performance Areas and Sub Captions
  1. Music (3 of 7 adjudicators)
  1. Performance (200 pts)
  2. Composition (100 pts)
  1. Visual (2 of 7 adjudicators)
  1. Performance (200 pts)
  2. Composition (100 pts)
  1. Color guard/Auxiliary (1 of 7 adjudicators)
  1. Performance (200 pts)
  2. Composition (100 pts)
  1. Percussion (1 of 7 adjudicators)
  1. Performance (200 pts)
  2. Composition (100 pts)

  1. Scoring, Rankings, and Penalties
  1. Scoring System – Achievement is the end product of what the performers are given and how well they execute those responsibilities.
  1. Each performance area is assessed and weighted at 66.6%  performance and 33.3% composition.
  2. The system uses the following scale:
  1. Rarely
  2. Developing
  3. Sometimes
  4. Frequently
  5. Consistently
  1. Raw scores will be converted to ordinals to determine each adjudicator’s rank
  2. Prior to the conversion to ordinals, any penalties will be divided by 5 and deducted from the 3 Music and 2 Visual caption judges’ scores.
  3. The sum of the ordinals will then be calculated to determine class and rank. The ensemble with the lowest sum of ordinals will be rewarded with the highest rank.
  4. In the event of a tie in class rank,  “judges preference” will be used to break the tie.

  1. Example Scoring Sheets



Color Gaurd


  1. Warnings and Penalties – All reported infractions or behavior problems reported to any contest officials will be reviewed by the Contest Director and Chief Judge. The Chief Judge will then decide if there should be a warning or penalty assessed. If penalties are assessed they are assessed to the Judge’s raw scores prior to the conversion to ordinals.  If a penalty causes a tie the band not receiving the penalty will win the tie break.
  1. Warm-up or practice the week before at the contest performance venue or in an undesignated area at the performance venue (DQ)
  2. Field Pass Violation (0.25 per violation)
  3. Overtime field exit (0.1 per every 5 sec)
  4. Delay of Contest (0.5 per minute) (not including acts of God or transportation issues)
  5. Adults contributing to performance (0.5 per violation)
  6. Failure to comply with venue-specific directives including bus parking and truck parking/unloading areas (0.25 -1 point up to DQ)
  7. Violation of Equipment, Props, or Prohibited Items (points 0.25-0.5 per violation)
  8. Behavior or actions that violate any policies, or directives from the contest admin or the venue. (.25-1 per violation)
  9. Behavior or actions that place student’s safety at risk (.25-1 per violation)


  1. Copyright Laws
  1. While United States Copyright Law is up to legal interpretation, Director’s Choice recommends directors become familiar with their responsibilities regarding US Copyright.
  2. The Law –
  3. It is the responsibility of each participating ensemble’s director or sponsor to comply with the copyright law regarding performance and/or use of arrangements of copyrighted music, visual images, and other materials, as well as the use of copyrighted audio or spoken text, and the display of copyrighted words and images.  
  1. Admission Tickets
  1. Tickets may be purchased at the gate on the day of the event.
  2. Ticket pricing varies depending on venue.
  3. Each band will receive up to 31 credentials that will provide field and general admission access.
  4. 10 extra credentials can be purchased if request is received 21 days prior to event

  1. Rules (Performance Expectations)
  1. Expectations

  1. Electronics
  1. Pre-recorded music may be used during the 4-minute field entry.
  2. Electronic equipment may be used under the following provisions:
  1. All electronically produced music, including narration and sound effects, shall be performed live and in real-time by student performers.
  2. Pre-recorded music, instrumental or vocal, and/or narration may not be used.
  1. Amplification: Amplification of instruments or voice may be used with the following restrictions:
  1.  All equipment must be operated by students.
  2. AC power cords and AC supplied amplification units must be located outside the sidelines and end zone lines.
  3. A power generator or DC power source may be placed on the field, provided there is a protective barrier between the power unit and the turf, and all cords are contained safely within close proximity to the equipment that is being supplied with power.
  4. Wind instruments may be amplified only for solo and/or small ensemble features.  For amplification purposes, small ensembles shall not exceed 10 musicians.
  1. Our host venues may have specific policies.  We will provide any changes that would differ from the policies above.

  1. Adults
  1. Directors with name badges are allowed to conduct from outside the performance area.
  2. Directors with name badges may conduct in the performance area behind the back sideline
  3. Adults with field passes may assist in set up and help tear down
  4. Adults should be clear of the performance area after the 4-minute field entrance until the end of the show.
  5. An adult may enter the field, without penalty, if there is a major equipment failure or for the safety of a student.
  6. Adults are permitted to communicate outside the performance area to a student but cannot control or manipulate any equipment used in the performance.
  1. The Performance Area
  1. The field or performance area is 15 feet forward of the front sideline extending past the back sideline to the back wall or stands and to each end zone line.
  2. Hash marks are different from stadium to stadium.
  3. Performance Fields at all events will have marks including cross hash marks at 60’ from each sideline (collegiate/Texas high school) and/or hash marks at 70’9” from each sideline (professional).
  4. Performers should NOT enter spectator areas during the performance.
  5. The tops of the numbers are 27 feet from the sideline on NCAA and TX HS, and 42 feet in NFL stadiums.
  6. Prior to the event, Director’s Choice will provide venue specific information regarding field markings.
  7. Groups needing marks not listed above can call ahead to see if they can be made available.
  1. Timing
  1. Arrival is recommended at least 2 hours prior to performance time.
  2. A representative of each band must check-in at the designated check-in area upon arrival to:
  1. pick up hot-off-the-press (HOP) packet and pertinent information.
  2. pick up director/staff badges, field passes, VIP passes and bus passes.
  3. pre-draw to help determine the finals performance order.
  1. Truck Lot staging arrival will begin at 10 minutes prior to lot entry. This will allow time for a brief security check.
  2. Staging for wind/battery warm-up will begin 10 minutes prior to warm-up.
  3. Warm-up is 45 minutes, including entry and exit of the warm-up area.
  4. Procession to the ready area is 10 minutes.
  5. Each band should arrive at the pre-performance ready area(s) 10 minutes prior to performance time.
  6. Each band will be given 4 minutes to enter the field and began setup and electronic checks.  The announcement of the band will begin at 4 minutes and 15 seconds or 45 seconds to performance time
  7. Each band should perform a minimum of 5 minutes and should not exceed 9 minutes.  Performance time will begin at the 4-minute mark and stop at the end of live music.
  8. The band and the sum of all its parts should be clear of the performance area at the 11-minute mark.
  9. Penalties will be added for under time/overtime Performance – 0.1 points per 5 seconds or fraction thereof.
  10. PENALTY for delay of the contest – 0.5 points per minute or fraction thereof.

  1. Equipment and Safety
  1. All direct current electronics, props may be placed anywhere in the performance area.
  2. Alternating current electronics are not allowed in the performance area (at least 15 feet in front of the sideline).
  3. Performers may not enter the spectator area.
  1. Props limitations
  1. Props cannot exceed 12 foot in height.
  2. Props should use pneumatic wheels of sufficient weight rating.
  3. Props like streamers, fabric, inflatables can be up to 25 feet in height.
  4. Props like streamers, fabric, inflatables can only be supported by hard materials less than 12 feet in height.
  5. Performers may not stand or perform where their feet are more than 6 feet above the field unless safety railings or safety harnesses are in use.
  6. Drum Majors may stand more than 6 feet above the field if they are using a podium outfitted with safety railings.
  7. Small vehicles are allowed to pull equipment onto the field but must have measures taken to prevent damage to the performance area.
  8. Small vehicles should not be used during the performance as a prop or for any other means.
  1. Prohibited Items (partial list)
  1. Pyro
  2. Confetti/Glitter
  3. Fog/Smoke
  4. Balloons
  5. Powder
  6. Liquids

  1. Registration and Participation Procedures
  1. Registration Procedures (How to Enter)
  1. Go to
  2. Complete form and pay registration/deposit fee, or request to hold registration position for 30 days pending issuance of Purchase Order
  1. Things we need from Group
  1. Application (digital)
  2. Group info
  1. Group Information due 90 days prior to the event
  1. Band’s Bio
  2. Group Picture
  3. Program (show) Title
  4. Any program artwork to be submitted for the program
  5. Participation Numbers
  1. Number of performing students
  2. Director’s info for staff badges (maximum of 6)
  3. Field Passes (maximum of 25)
  4. Number of Buses (fees may apply depending on venue)
  5. Number of Trucks (fees may apply depending on venue)
  6. Number of VIPs (reserved for school administration; max 3 per ensemble)
  1. Copyright responsibility signature form

  1. Performance Day Procedures
  1. Pre-Performance It is recommended that each band arrive 2 hours before performance time.  
  1. Check-In
  1. The director or representative of each band will need to check-in at a predetermined location.
  2. The director or representative will then draw for finals order
  3. The director or representative will pick up credentials needed for prelim competition
  4. The director or representative will be given any last-minute updates regarding any day-of changes to procedures or performance timing.

Director’s Choice will always strive to keep the schedule intact, however, circumstances beyond our control may cause deviation.

  1. Warm-up
  1. There will be three warm areas at each site labeled A, B, and C
  2. There will be a separate warm-up area for front ensembles also labeled A, B and C
  3. Each band’s 40-minute warm-up will be scheduled 1 hour and 5 minutes before performance time.  
  4. Each band must be clear of the warm-up area 25 minutes prior to performance time. This may be adjusted towards performance time if venue logistics will allow.
  5. There will be an official warm-up attendant that can assist with warm-up timing.  Please let them know how you would like the time updates.
  1. Each band will have 11 minutes to reach the ready position
  2. Entrance
  1. The field manager will alert the director and/or drum majors at 1-minute warning
  2. 5 minutes prior to performance time the field manager will grant permission to enter the field.  During these 4 minutes the band is allowed to setup, warmup, and is the only time prerecorded materials can be used.
  3. After 3 minutes and 15 seconds or 45 seconds prior to performance time, the pre-show announcement will begin.

“Joining us from [School City & State]… please welcome the [School] Marching Band!”

The title of show and programed music will be announced

“Director’s Choice welcomes drum majors,XXXX and the [School] Marching Band,” performing {title of show)

  1. Show Timing
  1. Official show timing will start at the first note or first movement after the announcement.  
  2. If no sound or visual movement starts within 30 seconds of the conclusion of the pre-show announcement, time will start automatically.  
  3. Bands are required to perform at least 5 minutes and not more than 8 minutes.
  4. The last note of the performance will end the time.
  5. If there is post-show music it must conclude by the 8-minute time limit.
  6. The post-show announcement will start immediately following the last note.

The [School Name] Marching Band!

The [School Name] Marching Band is under the direction of [Band Director(s) Name(s)] with

assistance from [Assistant Band Director(s) Name(s)]

  1. Bands may exit to a cadence or drum taps
  2. Each band is given 2 minutes to exit and clear field of all equipment
  1. Post-Performance
  1. At the conclusion of Prelim’s performance, each band will clear the field and proceed to the photograph area. (some shows will not have group photos available)
  2. At the conclusion of Finals performances, each band will clear the field and proceed to the buses and/or equipment trucks – NO PHOTO. The last few bands to perform in Finals will stow their equipment in an allocated area and immediately lineup for the retreat.
  1. Pictures
  1. Photography will be provided by a contracted company, who has exclusive contractual rights.
  2. No other photographers with will be permitted on the field
  3. Parents assisting with the moving of equipment do NOT have photography clearance
  1. Preliminary Awards Ceremony
  1. There will be a drum major retreat at the conclusion of the Prelims for each conference.
  2. Each band will be recognized in performance order.
  3. Preliminary and Class Awards will be presented at this time
  1. Finalist Director’s Meeting
  1. Promptly following the announcement of the 10 finalist bands the director of each band must attend a meeting to receive performance order and field passes for finals competition.
  2. Each director is encouraged to bring their drum major to the finals meeting as Retreat logistics will be presented at this time.
  1. Retreat
  1. At the conclusion of the performance by the last band in each conference Finals there will be an on-field full band retreat of all finalist bands for awards and celebration of achievement. Placement of finalist bands during retreat will be announced in reverse order of finish.
  2. All bands are expected to participate.
  3. Detailed information will be distributed during the finalist band director’ meeting at the end of Prelims announcement