What to expect at Competitions


Marching Season is the competitive part of our year. The Band and Guard are equivalent to one huge sports team and it is essential to understand that we need everyone at every performance to be competitive since we compete against the finest bands in Southern California.

Band and Guard competitions are a lot of fun and exciting to participate in. It is also exciting to be a spectator at the events. These competitions promote good sportsmanship and are a great learning tool to help us become better musicians and performers.

During August and September, the band members memorize and perfect their show music and learn their field show drill. The Color Guard learns their drill and choreography. Once all the hard work of learning the show is done, the Highlander Band and Color Guard are ready to start competing at tournaments. Everything the Band and Color Guard work for during marching season culminates at the Saturday tournaments during marching season. Tournament season begins the first week of October and goes through the first Saturday of the Thanksgiving break in November. This means all band and guard members need to keep all the Saturdays in October through the first Saturday of Thanksgiving break open for our competitions. Most of our field tournament performances will occur on Saturday evenings from approximately 5:00 PM to 9:30 PM, but students will also be required to attend morning or early-afternoon rehearsals and show preparation on these days.

Because marching season falls under the umbrella of the performing arts curriculum and PE, the performance is equivalent to a major test in any other high school course and is part of the Marching PE grade for all band and guard members. When a member misses a performance, it will affect everyone in the Helix Highlander Band and Color Guard because our competitive score will be lower if members are missing. If a student does miss a tournament or performance, he/she will lose a letter grade on their report card because there is no way to recreate a performance for that single individual to be given performance credit. Only in very special circumstances can a student obtain “excused” absences for a missed performance. The absence must be cleared through the Directors as soon as an issue is known and must be addressed well in advance of the performance date.

A schedule will be emailed to families and posted on this website with all “call-times” (this means what time you need to report) for every performance. Please make sure your student has been fed a nutritious meal and is well hydrated before arriving for a tournament so they have plenty of energy to put on a great performance.

When students arrive at an off-site performance location, they should look for our trailers in the parking lot and for their section leaders. Students must bring their instruments and the proper undergarments and marching shoes that will be worn with their uniform or costume (see “Uniform care and rules” on this site). Students should also bring regular street clothes to change into after the performance.

Students will first stretch and then change into uniform/costume and begin instrument/equipment warm-up with their section. About 30 minutes before the performance, the band will tune and do a final warm-up with the Directors and then go to the staging area at the stadium and wait for the announcement:

“Helix Charter High School, the judges are ready!”

After the performance, the students will go back to our trailers, change out of uniform, and return to the stadium for the awards ceremony. Tournaments are judged by a panel of respected music educators and scores are given to groups in each division, which is regulated by size of the group. Awards generally given are 1st place through 4th place for Band and Color Guard, with the top-scoring group across all classes receiving the coveted “Sweepstakes” award. The Bands and Guards are judged in the areas of Music Effect and Visual Effect, as well as separate Guard and Percussion categories.

Most of our tournaments are local in the San Diego area and parents are needed to carpool to these events. We typically take buses to two performances in the Anaheim area at the end of the season. We encourage our parents to purchase tickets for the tournaments and enjoy a great evening of entertainment by all the area’s band students as well as cheer on our own Helix Highlander Marching Band and Color Guard. Following the awards ceremony, carpools will return to Helix, where all students will help with unloading the trailers and putting away equipment. Students are released once these responsibilities are fulfilled. Band tournaments are very exciting and we hope all parents become Helix Highlander fans and go to all the performances!

Odds and ends




  • Thin black athletic shorts
  • Black short-sleeved undershirt (no tank tops)
  • Crew-length black socks with no emblems/designs
  • Clean, approved black marching band shoes



Will my student need money? Your student typically will need money for at least one meals.

Can my student drive him/herself? No, per the Helix Charter Board the students cannot drive themselves to offsite events for liability reasons. 

Can I watch? Parents are encouraged to come to as many performances as possible.  Yes, parents must pay to get into all performances. HIMA parents like to wear Helix gear and sit as a group.

Why should I attend? Watching the band perform at competitions gives parents a chance to see the incredible progress our students make over the course of the marching season.  In the early competitions, the band may only perform a selection or two from the field show.  As the season progresses, the entire field show is revealed and marching/music evolves into an exciting display. Your attendance gives support to our students.

Are there volunteer opportunities? Volunteers are needed for a variety of events throughout the school year.  Ask a Band Booster board member or committee chair how you can help for a single day or with multiple activities throughout the year.