“Practice Makes Perfect” … or Does It?

Is practice the only thing it takes to make a guard perfect? There comes a time when “practicing” must shift to “rehearsing.” Even though these two words are often interrelated, they are vastly different. Each has its own place and distinct value in our activity.


Practicing is most effective during the summer months as training for new and old members alike. It allows a performer to gain perfection of a skill or specific trait. Practicing allows for the making of mistakes in which the goal is to learn from and endeavor not to repeat. The best part of practicing is that it can be done anywhere—the more, the better! In addition, practicing allows performers to focus on singular efforts within choreography in an attempt toward perfection.


Rehearsing, however, is a different animal than its counterpart of practicing. Rehearing is all-encompassing, includes the entire team and all aspects (the whole) of the choreography. There is nothing that is singular or individual about rehearsing. Keep in mind that constant and quality practicing leads to superior rehearsing, but a rehearsal is not the final outcome of practice.

In a rehearsal, one ensures all the important things are achieved as if in a performance. The performer makes certain all details are ready and coordinated to make a positive impact on the audience. Lastly, rehearsing can’t happen in one runthrough; it is a constant series of performances, in rehearsals, over time.

Making the Shift

Generally speaking, guards should begin to make the shift from practicing to rehearsing prior to the first competitive event. It may seem like a huge effort at first, but over time it will become easier as your body understands and achieves the demands of performance. Ultimately, practicing does make perfect, but rehearsing breeds success!

About the Author

Chris Casteel has been involved in the color guard activity for more than 20 years. She is currently an adjudicator for Drum Corps International, Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association and the Winter Guard Association of Southern California (WGASC). She travels to many other circuits throughout the United States as a guest adjudicator. For the past several years, she has held the position of education coordinator for the WGASC. She has a master’s degree in education and currently teaches middle school language arts.

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