The Oakton High School Marching Band, also known as the Marching Cougars, is made up of about 100 students and is led by 3 drum majors, section leaders and a student band council. The Marching Band focuses on musical performance while marching challenging drills together with a moving drumline, pit percussion, color guard and sometimes, props.
Students are required to participate in the marching band if they are selected for the Concert 1 Band or Symphonic Band ensembles. Marching and instrument practice for the Fall Show begin during the Summer months, involve an optional, (though highly encouraged) 5-night marching band camp in August, local week day practices before school starts and after school practices throughout the Fall Sports school weeks.
The long hours, rigor of challenging music and attention to detail consistently result in fantastic marching shows which are performed at all OHS home football games and week-end marching competitions in the local area. The marching season ends at the end of November at the state marching competition.
The Marching Band compete in several area marching competitions every season and perform the halftime shows and pep music at all home football games and select away games.
Marching season begins in August with the Summer Band Camps where students learn the show for that year and ends with the VBODA State Marching Assessment (States) and the high school football season.
FAQs About Marching Band
Q. Does my student have to be in Marching Band?
A. All students placed in Concert Band I and Symphonic Band must march. All other band students are encouraged to march.
Q. What if I play an instrument that doesn't march?
A. In some cases, one instrument can be substituted for another. For example, piccolo can be substituted for flute and mellophone for French horn. In other cases, you may be asked to try a new instrument. Don't worry, if you want to march, an instrument will be found or you can join the color guard.
Q. How does my student balance marching band and other activities?
A. There is no denying that marching band requires a large commitment of time and energy. Practices last until 5:30PM at least two evenings a week, and there are football games and/or competitions each week as well. With careful planning and efficient use of time, a student can manage marching band plus homework, athletics, Scouts, church, free time, etc. Keep in mind that marching season is only two months long.
Q: How do we sign up for Marching Band?
A. Any student interested in Marching Band should pick up a forms packet from the band room in May, complete the forms, and bring them to Marching Band Registration night in May. New students are given the packet during band class placement assessments (held in late May). These forms also include the necessary medical and emergency forms required to participate in band camp.
Q: Are there fees for Marching Band?
A. Marching Band fees are determined by the costs required to run the Marching Band program. There are scholarship opportunities for any family who may need it.
Q. When are tryouts for Marching Band?
A. Students don't try out for Marching Band -- all band members are welcome! Students will, however, play for the band directors during band camp for placement according to skill level. Drumline has placement auditions in June of the preceding school year, but percussionists who join the program during the summer are encouraged to see the band directors.
Q. Who is required to go to the August band camp? All band members, or just marching band members?
A. Only Marching Band members, including Color Guard, go to the weeks of band camp in August that are held at Oakton.
Q. Does my student need a physical to be part of Marching Band?
A. Yes. All Marching Band members must submit the same physical form required for all sports at Oakton. A current VHSL physical form -- physician-signed and dated after May 1 of the school year -- must be on file in the band room at the start of band camp in August in order to participate in Marching Band. See the How to Join/Forms page for details.
Q. Can my student carry medicines on their person?
A. No. The band must follow Fairfax County School policy in this matter. Students may not carry medicines, even OTC ones, on their person. The only exceptions are inhalers and epinephrine which may be carried with proper authorization. See the How to Join/Forms page for details.
Q. What is "Pre-camp"?
A. Pre-Camp refers generally to the first or second week in August when Marching Band begins rehearsals at Oakton. New marchers are taught how to march and returning marchers get a refresher course.
Q. What is Band Camp?
A. "Band Camp" refers to the week the band spends at Orkney Springs each mid-August.
Q. What is Post-Camp"?
A. These are the weeks after the band returns from Orkney. The band will usually practice daily at Oakton in preparation for the first performance of the season which is typically held in late August or early September.
Q. What are "States"?
A. "States" is short for the State Marching Assessment. Bands compete against a "standard" rather than against each other. There are no 1st, 2nd, 3rd places. Each band receives an independent rating of Superior, Excellent, Good, etc. Receiving a "Superior" rating at the State Marching Assessment is the first step toward receiving Virginia Honor Band status. The marching assessment is run by the Virginia Band and Orchestra Association in October. In the spring, they run a Concert Band Assessment. A superior rating at both assessments earns the distinction of being a Virginia State Honors Band. Oakton High School has achieved this honor 20 times.
Q. What is the dress for Marching Band when they don't wear their uniforms?
A. This varies depending on any number of things - weather, what the band is going to be doing, etc. Sometimes they wear their "show shirts" (a T-shirt they will receive at Orkney) and sometimes they wear street clothes. The students will be informed of what they are to wear before each event.
Q. Are parents able to go to competitions and assessments?
A. Yes! Not only are parents allowed, they are encouraged to come and cheer for the band. The students love to hear cheers and applause from Oakton supporters.
Q. Why don't we know earlier the play times (schedule) for the band competitions?
A. In most cases the order of performances for competitions is not set until only a few days before the competition. As soon as the band directors know what Oakton's schedule will be, the parents are told. Competitions are on Saturdays and it is recommended that your student set aside the entire day to allow for practice, transportation and competition.
Q. Does the band perform at football games? Do students stay for the whole game? When do they need to arrive?
A. The band performs at all home football games and select away games. If the football team advances to the playoffs, the band may travel with them to perform. Band students stay the entire game unless they have prior permission to leave early. The band usually arrives at school an hour or two before game time, however the exact time will be set by the band directors each week.
Q. Is there a pep band for away games?
A. The Cougars send a pep band to some away games that are determined by the director at the start of the season.
Q. Does the band play at basketball games?
Q. Who do I need to notify if I need to drive my student home from an away game or leave early from a competition?
A. The student should notify the band director before the day of the game or competition so that any necessary paperwork MUST be filled out. Click here for the required Fairfax County Public School form.