Introduction: How to March Like a Cyclone

The Iowa State University Cyclone Football “Varsity” Marching Band or ISUCF”V”MB is the premier marching band for Iowa State University in the Big XII conference. To maintain this high quality marching there is a challenging audition that occurs every August at band camp. If you want to march for the ISUCF”V”MB, here are some important guidelines that will prepare you for your audition.

Step 1: Position of Relaxation Pt. 1

The position of relaxation is often referred to as the position of attention in most bands. This position offers optimum air flow, body posture, movement and can become quite comfortable. To begin, put your feet together and place your hands high above your head. This is a picture of the position of relaxation.

Step 2: Position of Relaxation Pt. 2

After your hands have been placed high above your head, slowly fold down into a marionette position (think of a doll with strings slumped over). Your knees should be together, your hands should be dangling loosely and your neck should be loose as well. Zero tension will in your body at this moment.

Step 3: Position of Relaxation Pt. 3

Slowly stand up vertebrae by vertebrae until your back is completely vertical. Remember, your hands and head should still be facing downwards. Slowly push your shoulders apart. This pushing movement opens up your lungs so they can reach maximum capacity on inhale. You will be able to play much louder.

Step 4: Position of Relaxation Pt. 4

After your shoulders are spread, slowly breathe in and lift your head at the same time. While breathing in, you will feel air on your soft pallet in your mouth. The soft pallet is in the far back side of your throat. The lifting of your head and breathing in should both stop once you feel that cool air on your soft pallet.

Step 5: Position of Relaxation Pt. 6

Next, pretend that you are hugging a tree, the fattest tree you can imagine. Your arms will create a barrel shape in front of you. Slowly bring your hands down to your sides while keeping that same curvature of your arms. Lastly, lean forward onto the balls of your feet. Your heels should not be touching the ground. Don’t lean so far forward as to fall over. Be conscious of your bodies desire to stiffen up. If you feel tense, you are doing it wrong. Be loose and relaxed, it could take a couple runs through these first few steps to get a feel for what is happening.

Step 6: Glide Step Pt. 1

Now that you know the position of relaxation you should learn how to do a glide step. The glide step is used on part of the pre-game show and at most halftime shows; it is critical to have glide step proficiency if you want to be in the Cyclone marching band. A glide step is a type of low step. You begin on your left foot. Your left foot will go off the ground and your heel will nearly touch the ground until your foot reaches its intended position. While doing so, your toe needs to be in the air.

Step 7: Glide Step Pt. 2

Freeze. If you recall, from the position of relaxation, you should have started off with your heels elevated from the ground. At the end of your first step, your left heel will be on the ground, your left toes will be up in the air and the ball of your right foot will be on the ground. Is it hard to balance there? Try not to be walking on a balance beam, allow for more of a skiers stance. If you are trying out for the ISUCF”V”MB, you will be rated on the fluidity of this motion. If done properly, you will be able to stop on any step and rock back and forth between your feet as though your two feet were each part of a teeter totter. With the first step down, roll onto your left foot and then repeat the previous step but with the right foot.

Step 8: High Step Pt. 1

Lastly, and in most alumni and members eyes, most importantly, is the high step. The high step is used in every pregame show. To do a proper high step, come to the position of relaxation and raise your left knee into the air. Your thigh will be parallel to the ground and your shin will make a right angle with your thigh.

Step 9: High Step Pt. 2

Remember to keep your toe pointed straight downward. Balance is key, so become familiar with standing on one foot. When bringing your knee back down, make sure the ball of your foot touches the ground first. The right foot is the same procedure.  Doing high step is very easy when dissected at a slow pace. The ISUCF”V”MB does half time at 138 beats per minute. That means that you must be able to lift your leg, point your toe down, and properly land your foot two times per second. Doing some cardio will help a great deal towards having a proper high step.

Step 10: Good Luck!

Learn the position of relaxation, glide step and high step and you will be well on your way to making it into the ISUCF”V”MB. Now all you have to do is be able to play your horn as well, good luck!

A special thanks to Christ Davidson photographer extraordinaire for taking the intro picture.