The Bands of America Drum Major Institute is off to a triumphant start! After a long day of registration, opening session, and different group breakouts, the Drum Majors attended a session at Pruis Hall dedicated to the art of saluting. All 609 of the students filled Pruis Hall to the brim, and each one of them were beaming with enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn. The session was led by DMI Faculty member Taylor Watts, who taught the background and steps to mastering a Drum Major salute.
Saluting by definition is a gesture of respect made to arriving or departing persons of prestige, traditionally done in the American and European Militaries. In Marching Bands, the Drum Major salute is used to acknowledge the audience and judges that they are ready to perform!
To perfect and master, the Drum Major salute, there are a few steps to take:
Posture: You must stand tall. To do this, you build your posture from the bottom up, with your feet at a 90-degree angle, with toes apart. Make sure your knees are over your ankles, your hips are over your knees, your shoulders are over your hips, and your chest is slightly out and up, with your chin slightly up.
Right Arm: Once your posture is all set, begin to form your right forearm and bicep/tricep into a 45-degree angle. Note that you never salute with your left arm, as it is considered to be extremely disrespectful. Your forearm and bicep/tricep should be in line with your body alignment, so that it’s not too far forward or backward. Make sure your wrist is straight, and your hand is flat, with your thumb flush against your hand. Your palm should not be in plain sight, and lastly your middle finger touches and hovers at the end of your eyebrow, or at the end of your hat and sunglasses if you happen to be wearing either one.
Left Arm: There are multiple ways and styles to form your left arm. Rules that apply universally are as follows; form a 90-degree angle between your forearm and bicep/tricep. Your forearm and bicep/tricep are in line with your body alignment, so that it’s not too far forward or backward. Your first two fingers press into your hip bone or wherever creates the 90-degree angle for you. Finally, your wrist is straight and your hand is in a fist with your thumb over your fingers.
Presenting Arms: This is always at least a two beat action. There are two different ways to do this:
a.) The Traditional Way: Beat 1 your right hand punches out and on Beat 2 your hand then goes into the salute position.
b.) The DMI Way: Beat 4 the right hand goes over the heart in a “C” position. Beat 1 the right hand punches straight out, and then on Beat 2 your hand goes into the salute position.
Ordering Arms: Like Presenting Arms, Ordering Arms is also at least a two beat action. On Beat 1 your right fist is in front of your forehead as if you are catching a fly. On Beat 2 your hand returns to the attention position.
Lastly, you must consider a few things when making your salute such as: angles, circular contrary motion, different heights or levels, ripples, changing stance, looking in the direction of your motion, and contrasting speed of motion. It’s encouraged to be creative, but remember to keep your salute simple, tasteful, and no more than eight counts of motion!
The students then practiced the entire salute sequence a few times, which was fascinating to witness as 609 students saluted in unison. Other DMI Faculty members came out in different groups to show off their salutes, some of which followed protocol, while others didn’t. Taylor had them watch out for techniques and steps they had just learned by applying it to what the faculty was performing for them. Bluecoats Drum Major Samuel Crawford also made a video appearance, giving the students some tips.
Finally, the session wrapped up when the Drum Majors saluted to DMI Division Coordinator Bobby Lambert. Bobby stood in front of the entire division, taken aback with pure joy by what he witnessed. Something truly undeniable about this session was how the students overtook the room with such energy. This session undoubtedly will give them the tools to bring back to their bands, but it will also teach them the tradition and respect that comes with a salute.