What is a “Show Band”? It is one of those terms that linger on through history always loosely defined by someone pretending to know exactly what they are talking about. What constitutes a show band if all bands perform shows? Google defines it as a band that plays cover versions of popular songs… (like every band ever assembled) or a band, especially a jazz band, that performs with “theatrical extravagance”. Hmm.. So basically if your performance is entertaining an audience you are a show band? Some often associate the term show band or show style to College or University Marching Bands who march the traditional style of march (knee lift or high step) and perform dance routines. As a music educator, this is the scenario in which I’ve encountered the term. But not all bands that high step and dance are labeled “show bands” or “show style”. So what makes a band a show band?
Is this a show band:
Or is this a Show band:
Maybe this a show band:
What is interesting is that, depending on who you are talking to, two of the bands on the above videos are categorized as “Big 10 style” or Traditional Style and one is labeled “Show Style” or “Show Band”. It was hard for me to distinguish the differences between the bands in the videos. Besides the fact that two bands consisted of majority caucasian members and one band consisted of majority black members there seems to be no other categorial differences.
In a recent interview, a prominent band director stated… “I despise the term “Show Band” of which so many of our fellow music colleagues have coined us. It is called “traditional” or “Big Ten” style, and it deserves the same respect that corps style marching gets.” So is this about respect between two opposing styles? Is the term “Show Band” likened to a slur in the band world used to describe “lesser than” or “for entertainment only” bands? I’d like to know your opinion on it. I for one think the term is ridiculous and holds no purpose. All marching bands do “shows” and we all strive to be entertaining so I guess we are all “show bands”. We need to get rid of the terminology that divides us and use the one word that brought us together in the first place: BAND.