Staying Healthy

With marching season still a few months away, now’s a great time to assess past accomplishments and plan for future successes. Since marching is an outdoor activity, weather conditions from the hot summer months to the cold temperatures in late fall affect body performance, and rapid changes often happen during rehearsals or competitions. Prevention is the best approach to staying healthy, so follow these tips for a great marching season, both on and off the field!

Energy is Essential

For energy throughout the day, remember the importance of good rest, regular meals and lots of water. When schedules are busy, it’s easy to overlook mealtimes in favor of snacks, so keep fruit, nuts or protein bars handy. As an athletic activity, marching is a physical workout. The body sweats to prevent overheating, so replace fluids constantly by carrying a sports bottle of water or Gatorade on the field.

Release Stress Regularly

Long rehearsals contribute to body tension. Take deep breaths during fast technical passages in complex marching drill. During breaks, stretch arms and hands to release muscle tension.

Posture and Alignment

Good posture is essential for a healthy body, so check body alignment in a mirror to avoid a curving spine, slumping shoulders or tilting the head forward. Avoid raising the shoulders while marching because this posture builds tension and contributes to fatigue in long rehearsals.

Mechanical Maintenance

Woodwind instruments are complex machines, with intricate moving parts: a head cork to regulate intonation and seal the headjoint; padded keys that are susceptible to temperature and humidity changes; and corks throughout the instrument to prevent noise, buffer keys and maintain key height for intonation. With outdoor weather conditions affecting instruments, mechanical maintenance is essential for great technique and healthy bodies because when keys leak or the head cork needs to be replaced, body tension results.

Good luck for a successful, healthy marching season this year!

About the Author

Mary Karen Clardy, professor of flute at the University of North Texas in Denton, appears as a soloist, chamber artist and teacher throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and South America. A renowned author, Mary has published more than 10 books from European American Music, Leduc, Schott and Universal Edition. Her students are consistent prizewinners in international competitions and occupy prominent orchestral and faculty positions throughout the world. Visit