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This is the full text of the Sound Advice Working Group specific recommendations covering marching bands.
17.1 While this advice is based on experience with military bands, it is equally applicable to all marching bands.
17.2 The singular term 'band' in this context should be understood to refer to a single body of musicians, whether from a unitary ensemble or two or more ensembles combined for a particular event (for example, massed bands performing at a major parade such as the Queen's Birthday Parade).
17.3 The table below represents typical noise levels to which members of marching bands are exposed.
Worst-case figures from a series of measurements taken with two professional bands at the Royal Military School of Music during September 2006.Taking the average exposure over a day all of the above would have been above the action values.
17.4 There are two types of marching band engagement, each of which places different requirements on the band in terms of volume and so requiring a different approach to control measures. The first is a ceremonial parade, in which the band is providing musical support to marching troops; the second is a band display in which the band performs as a discrete 'act' for the entertainment of an audience, either in an arena or street procession.
17.5 Certain instruments (for example, trombones, cornets and percussion) present a greater hazard than others, both to the players and those close to them, and these instruments should be carefully positioned within the marching band. The directional brass instruments should be at the front of the band, reducing the muffling effect of other performers and so requiring less volume from the players concerned to project their sound. Trombones should be in the front rank, placing no other performer directly in line with the bell of the instrument. The maximum possible free space should be left around the bass drum and cymbals to allow for natural dissipation of the sound of these instruments. See figure below for a plan of marching band.
17.7 Measures that will reduce the necessary volume from an individual musician within the band include:
17.8 Where adjustments to the parade format cannot eliminate risk, personal hearing protection should be provided and used.
17.9 When a band is performing solely for the entertainment of an audience, either in an arena display or procession, excessive volume is not a necessity. The dynamic range employed within the performance should be maintained at a level to minimise the risk. It will be necessary to educate both performers and audiences, among whom there is often an expectation of excessive volume during marching displays.
17.10 The person in charge of the band(s) should assess any risk associated with the performance, including additional elements such as cannons and pyrotechnics, and employ appropriate control measures. Where the risk is beyond the immediate control of the band (for example pyrotechnics), personal hearing protection should be provided for all performers.
17.11 Personal hearing protection should be routinely available for both performers of the naturally louder instruments and those positioned close to them.