Drum and bugle corps, marching bands and (marching band) color guards, indoor drum lines and dancers all use metronomes to help with timing when they are training and practicing. Your drill team and color guard and everyone in a military drill-related organization could benefit.
When a music ensemble uses a metronome, when playing their instruments, the metronome is plugged into a loudspeaker and the beats come across loud and clear even over the percussion, brass, and woodwinds playing. For your drill team or color team, practicing regulation drill sequences with metronome is extremely helpful to keep within the competitive steps per minute standard which is different for each service.
I use the Android application, Loud Metronome, on my phone when I teach. Loud Metronome is nice and loud on a Bluetooth speaker. I link my phone, to a Braven external speaker, which is rated in the top five of loudest external speakers. The phone is in my pocket and I hold the speaker right behind the team at ear level.
There are also electronic metronomes like the Dr Beat from BOSS. These can plug into a loud speaker or bull horn for much better volume.
Service tempo ranges:
- Army: 116-124 cadets; 120 Active Duty, Guard, & Reserve (TC 3-21.5)
- MC/N/CG: 112-120 (MCO P5060.2)
- AF: 100-120 (AFMAN 36-2203)
How to use your metronome:
- Set your metronome to the middle of your service tempo range.
- Set the time signature. If you are associated with music, that will be easy for you, if not read on. TO simplify this explanation, set the time signature to 4/4.
- Accented beats: If you want to have each left heel strike the marching surface, put an accent on beats 1 and 3. How this can help: everyone will know that the higher toned beat is only for the left foot and the lower toned beat is the right.
- Straight beats: Do not mark any beat to have an accent.
- Turn up the volume.
- Stick it in a team member’s back pocket at the center of the team.
- Army/AF: Explain to the team that only the heel should strike the marching surface when marching forward at a full or half step.
- MC/N/CG: Explain to the team that only the heel should strike the deck when marching forward at a full step and the toe should strike at half step.
- Always practice with the metronome.
How to call commands with a Metronome
While marching, commands are fairly easy. However, calling Forward, March, while having the metronome going presents a challenge. The team must pause a beat before stepping off. It will be really odd at first, but you will get used to it, trust me. Here is a visual explanation: