Music for a Colors Presentation

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What music is played when presenting the colors? That’s the question that has popped up time and again lately. So, let’s answer it.

The photo at top is of a DrillMaster mock funeral graduation ceremony colors presentation. Many first responder uniforms do not include a cover (hat). Quite often after receiving the training, the next step for the law enforcement, fire, or EMS unit is to establish uniform standards.

The Trio section of National Emblem is the standard. Not all of National Emblem. At what cadence? Lets look.

Tempo Matters!

This video was created by the US Navy Band in Washington DC. The tempo, about 80 beats per minute (BPM), is probably slower than you are used to but for ceremonial work, it’s standard. This is an excellent choice for the color guard to enter and depart.

Marching too quickly (120 BPM can be too quick), too slowly (please no slower than 80 BPM), and calling cadence are all to be avoided like the plague. Please see, How to Present the Colors at an Event and How Not to Present the Colors.

Situation Matters!

If your team is at a sports stadium, then you are probably going to march out early without music or fanfare, post, and wait for your cue, most likely a loudspeaker announcement (“Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for our National Anthem”). At an evening dinner or for a meeting, you could use the Trio music to add a bit of luster to the the team’s entrance and departure.

Remember, presenting the colors should be your goal 99% of the time. That means you enter, present, and leave with the colors while an american flag or set of flags is already posted. Posting the colors, where the team enter, presents, posts, and departs without the flags, is rare and only for special situations.

We are Posted, Now What?

On the color guard commander’s cue of giving the command, “Present, ARMS!” the music is played. Other than the sporting-type event mentioned above, the cue should come from the commander: the commands are:

  • Colors, ATTENTION!
  • Port/Right Shoulder/Carry, ARMS!
  • [Optional: Trio is played]
  • [Colors Turn-on] Colors, HALT!
  • (Left FACE!)
  • Present, ARMS!
  • [Music or Pledge]
  • Port, ARMS!
  • (Left, FACE!)
  • Colors Turn, MARCH!
  • [Optional: Trio is played]

The Star Spangled Banner is sung or played OR (not and) the Pledge of Allegiance is recited. Note: service departmental colors DO NOT DIP for the Pledge.

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