As we get directions from the band directors each week, we will update Pit-Pack volunteers as needed to provide more accurate details as we move through the season – this page may have updates too. These notes are based on prior Marching Season tasks.
- Escort Students to Restrooms – All band students, including Front Ensemble and/or Loading Crew are required to be escorted to the restrooms.
NOTE: Not all Loading Crew students are members of the Front Ensemble. And, not all Front Ensemble students are members of the Loading Crew. So these notes may sometimes refer to them as separate groups, even though they mostly overlap.
- Trailer Load/Unload – There are student logistics leaders but we are transitioning to having Pit-Pack parent volunteers doing as much of the loading and unloading as possible. The main thing is to ensure that the load/unload environment stays safe. The Front Ensemble will help to line up the instruments in the right order so they can be loaded up the ramp. Also, in some stadiums, there are slopes on sidewalks where the carts are placed. A bag of wheel chocks is kept in the trailer to use for blocking the wheels and Pit-Pack usually handles this task.
- The loading sequence and placement of the equipment within the truck is based on prior experience and is under the direction of the logistics student leader and/or percussion director. Loading may adjust depending on circumstances but generally the keyboards and timpani are loaded in the bottom first, then the ramp is assembled to load the top, typically starting with the speaker carts and other items followed by the instrument carts.
- Large Podium – The large podium is usually the last off (and first back on) the trailer. It must be unfolded and the wheels must be attached. The wheels are stored in a green box usually stored in front of the wheel well at the rear of trailer. The wheel assemblies and legs are numbered to match the podium legs. Once the podium wheels are attached, the podium can be stood upright and the two end rails and the one side rail at the top can be attached. At home games, the large podium will only be used during the performance. A smaller podium will be setup in the stands for use during the game.
NOTE: When moving the large podium be careful of bumps that may stop a front wheel from moving – even though there are brackets that keep the podium open once assembled, these can be bent and the podium could collapse if the podium is stopped suddenly (e.g. on a curb). This is best avoided by having someone steer and push the front of the podium from underneath.
When used during the game (e.g. away games), the podium should be moved onto the field, centered in front of the band section. Just get it close and then directors/drum majors can position it exactly. Use the yellow wheel chocks to prevent the podium from moving once in place.
During the performance, the podium should be centered on the 50 yard line, on the home side, with the open-side facing the field. At the home field (Gupton Stadium), the front of the podium should be on the boundary between the concrete and the grass. This may require moving some of the benches/tables used by the football team to place the podium where it needs to be. Please remember to replace anything that was moved. At away games with a track, the podium will generally be placed with the front on the boundary between the track and the grass.
After the performance, move the podium back to its original position in front of the band section, or for home games, move it to the truck for disassembly and storage.
- Small Podiums – There are two smaller podiums that are used during the performance. These podiums are ~ 6 foot tall, and are to be centered on the 30 yard line (home side) at ~ 15 feet off the side-line. At most stadiums, this will be where the front of the podium is placed on the yellow line, with the ladder extending to the rear (away from the field) at approximately the outside white line.
- Rear Podium – There is a shorter podium that may be used in the stands at home games. It will need to be moved to the stands from the truck. So far this season no rear podium is being used on the field but if and when that happens this is the procedure: When the band moves from the stand to the end-zone for warm-up, this podium should follow the band to the warm-up area. During the performance, it should be centered on the far side 40 yard line (to the right of center, as you are facing the home stands from the visitor side). The front should be placed on the edge of the playing field with the ladder coming down toward the stands (away from the field). The rear podium will need to be placed after the band marches onto the field (they enter from the back/visitor side).
- Note: For each podium, there is a small, weighted cylinder (painted gray). The Drum Majors place their shakos (hats for non-band people) on these to keep the wind from blowing them off during the performance. These cylinders should be placed in the front corner (field side) of the podium (left side).
- Speaker Carts – There are two speaker carts. #1 is placed on the left end of the front ensemble (as viewed from the stands), #2 is placed on the right side. These carts should be placed at approximately the 37 yard line, in line with the front row of instruments, angled slightly inward, towards the press box. The Pit-Pack just needs to get it close. The Front Ensemble will ensure correct final placement.
- Black Sound Box – This box contains all of the electronics (amplifiers, etc.) for the front ensemble. There is a student assigned to move this box, but it may take at least one additional adult to move it quickly on/off the field during an event.
- Generator – As of last year, we have a generator to power our electronics (it is very quiet … you have to not hear it to believe it). The generator is mounted on a cart along with an extension on a spool. This cart has to be moved into place near 40 yard line, as close to the stands but as far from the large podium as possible. The cord will need to be unrolled and passed through the front-line to the sound box. Then the generator should be started and the extension cord must be plugged into the generator. After the performance, the process is reversed. In some cases power will be available within the stadium and the generator will not be required.
- Timpani (aka kettle drums). The timpani are moved on/off the field using a cart. This cart moves out first and is positioned behind the back row for initial setup. The Pit-Pack will assist the student in moving the timpani from the cart into position. Please note. Care must be taken in how the timpani are handled. Touching the tuning setting must be avoided and they must never be lifted by the rim, only by the vertical frames. Incorrect lifting can cause the timpani to become improperly tuned, or more seriously, they can be damaged. Once the timpani are off the cart, one Pit-Pack volunteer should move the cart to the sideline while the remaining Pit-Pack volunteers assist the student in placing the timpani in the proper location. Timpani are arranged with the largest to the Timpanist’s left ranging to the smallest on his/her right. After the performance, the volunteers will move the cart quickly back behind the timpani, help the student load them on the cart, and move them back to the warm-up area.
- Chimes – A band student is usually assigned to move the chimes. However, this instrument is somewhat top-heavy, and in some locations, hills or uneven field surfaces can cause the chime to fall. A volunteer is assigned primarily to assist in keeping the chimes balanced while the student is moving them.
- Crotales (aka Antique cymbals). This is the instrument with the copper discs arranged in a similar layout to a keyboard. It sits on a long, black table with wheels. There is usually no student assigned to move this instrument. When getting ready to move, simply follow the instrument in front of you and place the crotales cart right next to the instrument that you followed. The students will ensure the correct final placement for the show.
- Bass Drums – There are two bass drums, one at each end. They are not heavy, but on a hill, if you aren’t careful, they can swing out away from you when you least expect it. When you are assigned to a bass drum, simply line up with the rest of the instruments and follow the group out, keeping your relative placement. The students will get them into the correct position.
- Gongs – There are two gongs, one at each end. Like the bass drums, they are not that difficult to move. Just follow the crowd, keeping the relative placement, the students will make sure that the final placement is correct.
- “The Rack” – There are two racks, one at each end. These are used to provide discipline to unruly band students and volunteers – just kidding! There is one student assigned to move each rack, but a volunteer is usually need to help keep the rack moving straight while moving on/off the field. As with the other instruments, simply assist the student in getting it close to where it needs to be. They will take care of final placement.
- Concert Horns – “Wait a minute … this is not a Pit instrument …” – In previous shows, there have been some marching students that will swap out their instrument for one of the concert French Horns. If needed this season, the Pit-Pack task is to retrieve the horns from the warm-up area (usually in the end-zone) after the warm-up is complete and move them into the proper location while the rest of the Front Ensemble is getting setup. These horns are to be placed close to the field in a location determined by the directors. The cases and horns are marked with the yard line. They should be placed with the mouthpiece perpendicular to the sideline and the bell away from center-field.
- Float – Depending on how many people we have show up, we may have more volunteers than we have tasks to assign. Or, if this is your first time, you may not feel comfortable with taking a specific task. This is where the float task comes in. You can simply shadow someone, helping them out as needed, or simply tag along and see what it is all about. One other thing that the “float” task involves is simply watching for any mishaps, dropped items, etc. that might occur during the move and picking the item up, or helping out as needed. Another item for the floating task is to ensure that the football benches and tables are moved out of the way during a performance setup and restored to their proper position after the performance.
- Truck Maintenance – The Pit-Pack is responsible for keeping the truck clean and the equipment in good working order.
- Special Assistant – We occasionally have special assistants; children who accompany their parents during Pit-Pack duties. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that their parents are doing their job correctly. Occasionally, one of the directors or drum majors may ask them for assistance in directing the band or helping out with warm-ups. Sometimes, one of the adult volunteers may need extra assistance in filling water jugs. These special assistants are ideal for that task.
- Important Note: Other than when they are helping out a director or drum major, these assistants should remain with their parents or other adult volunteer. This is to ensure their safety, and to ensure that the band is able to remain focused on their job of performing at the event. Note also that Special Assistants may not be allowed on the field at competitions.