The cold winter months can be harsh for anyone but Marching Band and Color Guard programs it’s brutal—the wind’s blowing in your face, snowflakes are landing in your eyes,—but having to march and play an instrument in bad weather can be devastating if you’re not prepared. Like any other athletic activity, marching can potentially turn into a miserable experience in any sort of inclement weather; however, much like any sport or performance art, the show must go on!
Layers, Layers, Layers
Whether rehearsing or performing outdoors, traveling or just unloading equipment on the way to an indoor /outdoor arena, the most important thing to do is to dress reasonably. Ensure that your outfit is dense enough to retain heat and keep you insulated. In an activity where mobility and breathing are essential, however, thick layers of clothing may not be the best course of action.
Instead, choose a lightweight outer layer according to James Preste, marketing director for Cheer Factor Inc.–the Warm-up Apparel Company, which makes custom sublimation warmup outfits and costumes for Marching Band, Winter/Color Guard and Drumline. With their custom offering Cheer Factor also has a complete line of Dance, Gymnastics, Synchro Swim and Figure Skating apparel as well.
“The reason people get cold is that wind blows through the fabric,” Preste says.
Multiple layers underneath a sublimation warm-up as a practice or performance outfit allow for students to adjust their clothing based on changing temperatures over the course of a practice. If they get too warm, they can shed a layer of clothing or two in order to cool off. Similarly, if the weather worsens, additional outer layers can be added to keep students warm and comfortable during practice.
One challenge for marching ensembles outfitting their members is that high-quality weather-resistant material can be very expensive for a collegiate or school programs, particularly when the uniforms has to be bought in bulk for a great number of students.
“Waterproof garments can be very expensive as well, and they don’t have the stretch that marching apparel needs for movement and performance,” Cheer Factor’s Preste explains.
“Layering is the best way to go, we’ve seen. We have performance Cheer Factor SubDi II Sublimation polyester fabric, made to be breathable with 4-way stretch, and moisture management characteristics, so rain will dry quickly.
Cheer Factor’s Preste says that performers specifically should avoid wearing nylon fabric. Though it can keep players warm, nylon has absolutely no stretch, restricting movement, which can, of course, be very problematic in a marching setting, particularly in highly choreographed shows that require movement beyond marching patterns.
“Nylon doesn’t stretch, doesn’t breathe, the fabric crackles with static when rubbed together when marching and garments have to be made slightly oversized, so that performers don’t suffocate in it,” he explains. “It keeps your students somewhat warm, but does not breathe and it has no “fit” style. It just doesn’t work.”
Jose Diaz Jr., the band director of Wagner College on Staten Island, New York, has specific clothing advice as well. He suggests fitted clothing—such as the Nike Pro Hyperwarm line—for your base layer. Made of polyester and spandex, this fitted material will not bunch up under a uniform while keeping the performer warm and comfortable.
“The most important thing is to get fitted material to wear under your uniform,” Diaz says. “You can wear multiple layers, and it does not bunch up.”
Thermal undergarments are incredibly useful in any marching setting, as most of them will easily fit under a practice outfit, marching uniform or anything else the students happen to wear. This is particularly useful in a parade or competition setting, where the outward appearance of the band is incredibly important and can’t be affected by any undergarments.
Cheer Factor’s Preste suggests under garments containing a thin thermal honeycomb-pattern insulation, which he notes to be the most efficient heat retainers. “Layering is a good idea in this case as well,” he adds. “You can have insulated undergarments, but you can also have regular underwear underneath. They’ll keep you the warmest.”
Balancing between optimal performance conditions and protecting students from the cold can be difficult for any program. Staying warm often requires function over form while a large part of doing well at competitions is presentation and appearance. Bulking up to endure rough weather can restrict mobility, affecting a student’s posture and movement. A student suffering from the cold, however, will also suffer in terms of musicality, not to mention their health off the field. The winter months can make marching band a challenging activity for students and for the groups they play in.
“As a marching band in New York City, we need to be prepared for all types of weather,” Diaz says. “The danger of illness when performing in the extreme cold is a very real possibility.”
Mobility and comfort are high on the list of considerations when dressing students up for the winter, but, in Diaz’s eyes, nothing is more important than making sure the students are safe in the cold.
Edited Article - Written by Joel J. King – HALFTIME MAGAZINE
To Contact Cheer Factor Inc-the Warm-up Apparel Co. Phone 651-340-8345 or www.cheerfactor.com
HALFTIME MAGAZINE - www.halftimemag.com Halftime Magazine® is the only lifestyle publication that presents the sights, sounds and spirit of the marching arts in a highly visual format. Our mission involves education, entertainment and inspiration for our readers--marching instructors, students, parents, alumni and fans. This bimonthly magazine showcases marching participants' shared experiences about competitions, school spirit and band traditions with profiles, first-person accounts and thought-provoking feature stories.