Northstar Bands FAQ

Participation in music and athletic programs:


Q. Do I have to be in band to be in Marching Band?

A. As a wind player or percussionist you must also be enrolled in a concert band in order to qualify for Marching Band.  We select color guard members (musicians and non-musicians) based upon tryouts which follow the wind and percussion auditions.


Q. Can I play a sport and be in Marching Band?

A. YES, you may play a sport and still participate in Marching Band.  Currently, we have many members who successfully participate in freshman, junior varsity, and varsity men’s and women’s athletics.



Q. What do we do after Marching Band during second quarter?

A. Upon completion of the Marching Band season, students will have the option to participate in Indoor Drumline, Winter Guard, or Symphonic Winds and Percussion (SWAP) for the remainder of the semester. 



Auditions for Marching Band


Q. How do we get into Marching Band?

A. Each year, typically in January, band members who are not enrolled in Marching Band or who are in the 8th grade are informed about potential openings in the Northstar Marching Band program.  An audition day will be held at Waukesha North High School; this rehearsal is open to anyone interested in joining the Waukesha North Band Program. 



Q. As a percussionist, what instrument(s) do I tryout on?

A. You will receive music for both mallets and snare drum. Full auditions will not be complete until the season has started.



Q. What is the pit or front line?

A. The pit or front line is the mallet and auxiliary percussion instruments.



Q. May I tryout for more than one instrument? I.e. Flute & Saxophone.

A. Yes, we would encourage that.  If you make it on both instruments, you will be given the choice of which one to play.



Q. If I don’t make it on an instrument, can I play a different instrument?

A. Yes.  If you have an interest in playing an alternate instrument, let us know at the tryout.



Q. How do you become a drum major?

A. One can apply to be drum major after their first year in Marching Band.  The interested students complete a questionnaire and proceed through an interview process and conducting audition.  Extensive training opportunities are offered to those selected as drum majors.


Color Guard


Q. What is color guard?

A. Color guard is a very important part of the North Marching Band.  The color guard is comprised of young men and women who perform with flags, rifles, sabres, and other props to add an important visual element to the Marching Band.



Q.How do you tryout for color guard?

A.  All auditions will take place at the same time for all sections of the band. If you have an interest in color guard and a music spot you will have the opportunity to work on both during the audition day. In addition, all other non-band men or women are invited to audition for the color guard.



Q. Is there any cost to be a member of color guard?

A. There are a few additional uniform expenses.  These costs vary year to year due to uniform style changes.  Often, students fund-raise these costs.



Practice schedule


Q. When does Marching Band begin?

A. After the audition process is completed, rehearsal schedules are distributed to students and parents.  It is important that students transfer these rehearsal dates to their personal and family calendars.  Extra instructional staff attends these rehearsals to benefit the students’ training and progress.  The first rehearsal is held on a Saturday, February 22, 2014 (9 AM – 5 PM) with rehearsals held monthly through May. All Calendar information is available, enter School Code: WNHSBand to access the public calendar.  You can also sync your personal calendar with charms by following instructions on the pdf.

Q. How long are rehearsals?

A. Rehearsal length varies depending on the day and time of year.  A summer band camp is scheduled for six consecutive days (July 28 – August 2) 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  In addition, Monday and Thursday evening rehearsals begin following band camp until school begins from 1 PM – 9 PM.  Rehearsals during the school year will be held on Monday and Wednesday nights from 7 PM – 9 PM.  Attendance at these rehearsals is required.  Excellence is the result of desire and sacrifice.  Please give serious thought to this time commitment.

Parade and field competition schedule


Q. How many parades and field shows do we perform?

A.Each year the number of performances varies depending on the “focus” of that particular year, i.e.: a major trip year.  Generally, the Waukesha North Marching Band appears in 6-8 parades, 6-8 field marching competitions, and 3-5 North football half-time performances.



Q.Is there summer marching band?

A. This is dependent on the year.  We try to participate in some type of summer performances to help prepare the group for the fall schedule.  Students and parents are made aware of summer performance commitments as far in advance as possible, generally 4-5 months.



Instruments and music


Q.Are school instruments provided or do we need to rent?

A. We will attempt to provide as many specialized instruments (French horn, tuba, baritone, trombones, tenor saxophone) as possible.  The number and quality of the instruments is limited.  Therefore, if possible students should rent or own their instruments.  These instruments will be issued in excellent playing condition and will be reconditioned once a year.  Any damage to the school instruments, outside of normal wear and tear, will be the responsibility of the student.



Q. When do we receive the marching band music?

A. You will receive the marching band music during the winter/spring rehearsal schedule.



Q. Do we memorize the music?

A. Yes. Students memorize the summer parade music, the fall field show music, and the holiday parade music.





Q. How much does the uniform cost?

A. There is a $40 rental and maintenance cost for the uniforms each season.  To give perspective to the uniform's value, when permanently damaged or lost, Jackets cost $170.00 to replace, Gauntlets cost $42, Bib Pants cost $65 and Shako's cost $43.  



Q. What uniform parts do students provide?

A. Lightweight black socks, black T-shirt, marching shoes (which we order for you average $35-$40), and gloves (which we order for you @ $4 per pair).



Q. When do we receive our uniforms and how are they fitted?

A. At the first or second rehearsal a team of band parents completely measure and size students in band uniforms from current available stock.  We take great care and pride that the uniform is fitted properly to each individual band member.  In a similar manner, color guard uniforms are sized at a separate rehearsal.



Q. Where should the band launder the uniform?

A. Please click on the pdf icon for uniform care and laundering instructions.





Q. What kind of fund-raising do we do?

A. Our fund-raising policy is 1.) fund-raise only if necessary, and 2.) select products and/or projects which the general public perceives as a value.  Students who are raising funds for travel will be assigned an Individual Student Account (ISA) to monitor their progress and long term goals.



Q. How much money do I need to fund-raise?

A. Goals are determined by the performance schedule for the season or year, i.e.: destination of major/minor trip and travel expenses.  This, too, is clearly communicated to students and parents. (Also see #10 regarding transportation costs.)





Q. How do we travel to the field shows and parades?

A. We travel on school buses for “in town” or short distance trips.  Coaches (ex. Wisconsin Coach Lines) are the rule for out-of-state performances and during the summer months.



Q. Do we need chaperones?

A. Yes.  Please contact one of the directors if you are interested.



Q. Who covers the transportation costs/staffing/show design/overnight housing?

A. All of these costs are covered in one overall cost dependent on the yearly plans of the marching band. Each band member is responsible for these fees.  It is these yearly fees that allow the “Northstar” Band program, a high quality marching program, staff and travel opportunities.  Students often fund-raise their transportation stipend.  This also includes an overnight trip’s room and meals.



Parent Perspectives


The following excerpts are reflections from band parents on their feelings of what Marching Band offered their son or daughter:


  • “Puts (our) daughter in with an excellent group of students.”


  • “Our child has gained so much through this program…responsibility, commitment, sociability, pride, success, etc.”


  • “(He) has learned how to take on commitment and follow through.”


  • “Discipline, leadership opportunities.  Pride in accomplishments, group experience (many positive aspects).”


  • “Fun, taught responsibility, cooperation, dependence on groups, trust, self-confidence, pride, commitment…”


  • “It makes the transition to high school so much easier.  Good friends are made and responsibility is learned.”


  • “I just wanted to let you know what a great experience Kristen had with marching band in her first season.  Obviously, the outcome at the end was awesome, but everything that was taught along the way was extremely rewarding and appreciated.  Kristen talked about band A LOT during the season and continues to enjoy moving into concert season.  I am so proud to say that my daughter is part of a very classy organization and look forward to the years ahead.  Thank-you to you and your staff for all of your hard work and dedication to produce great citizens of our community in each of our children!!!”


Student Perspectives:


  • “The Northstar Band has changed my life for the better.  I’ve made a new family and it’s because of that family that I’m happier and more involved with what I’m doing…”


  • “The band program has had a real profound impact on my life.  I never really realized it.  I was talking to my mom and she was just saying that the pursuit of excellence and self-improvement you teach has really stuck with me!  Thank you!”