Members' Handbook


The Hackettstown Community Band

Basic New Member Information

7/22/2006 edition
3/30/2008 revision  11/05/2011 revision

11/10/2012 revision 10/3/2014 revision

The purpose of the Members' Handbook is to give new or prospective members an introduction to the band, and to provide to all members as much information on band policies as to be useful. More information can be obtained by visiting the Band's website at "", or by asking any executive committee member.


The Hackettstown Community Band has been a continuously organized group in Hackettstown since 1947. Earlier known as the Hackettstown Fire Department Band, it has been under its present banner since 1976. In 1992, it was incorporated in the State of New Jersey as a not-for-profit corporation, and has obtained a tax exempt status from the IRS.


The purpose of the Hackettstown Community Band is to provide musicians of all social and musical backgrounds the opportunity to rehearse, perform, and expand their musical skills. Performances of concerts and parades are engaged to provide a cultural experience for the community and to promote civic pride, spirit, and patriotism.


The Hackettstown Community Band is governed by a nine-member executive committee, consisting of the band conductors and elected officers and trustees.  The executive committee operates under a set of BYLAWS that include election procedures for the committee, as well as its duties and responsibilities.


Band membership is open to any person with a reasonable amount of playing ability who espouses the band's purpose and culture, regardless of age, sex, race, religion, or country of national origin. There are no auditions or membership fees. Weekly practices are held at the Hackettstown Community Center (Main Street, Hackettstown) on Thursdays from 7:30 to 9:00 pm, year round, excluding holidays and inclement weather. Members bring their own instruments and music stands. Sheet music and chairs are provided. No advance notice is required for new members to attend practice.

Although attendance at band functions is never required of members, attendance is kept at all band functions. Attendance totals are tallied at time intervals as prescribed in the bylaws. Members meeting the minimum requirements are put on list of Active Members and are eligible to vote and to serve on the executive committee.


Band members have access to band music, uniforms, and equipment. It is important that members be responsible for taking care of these resources. Unless otherwise announced, music can be taken home by individuals, providing it is returned for the next event (practice or concert). Cleaning and upkeep of uniforms and any personal equipment issued to individuals are the responsibility of the individuals. Individuals no longer performing with the band are to return uniforms and personal equipment in a timely manner.

Band members supply their own instruments and are responsible for their care and upkeep. If members wish to obtain insurance for their instruments, they should contact their insurance agents. Instrument insurance riders can easily be added to most home owner's insurance policies.


The band is called upon to perform outdoors, both MARCHING and in CONCERT. As a result, the band performs at times in extreme heat, extreme cold, over hilly or uneven terrain, and in heavy precipitation. EACH INDIVIDUAL IS RESPONSIBLE for DETERMINING if the performance might JEOPARDIZE his/her HEALTH or SAFETY, and to WITHDRAW from participation accordingly. It is further expected that each individual will assess his/her own ability to contribute to the performance under the particular circumstances and to WITHDRAW if he/she determines that his/her participation might DETRACT from the overall band's SOUND or APPEARANCE. No person is ever obligated to participate in any performance.

A very important part of the band's membership is its young people. It is recognized, however, that minors can not be expected to take full responsibility for decision-making that might affect their health and safety. Therefore, the band REQUIRES THAT THE MINOR'S PARTENTS/GUARDIANS ASSUME THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MINOR'S PARTICIPATION in band events.


The band reheareses and performs in public, using public facilities. It is the responsibility of each individual to act in a manner that reflects well upon the band, to take direction from the conductor or officer in charge of the event, and to be respectful of the facilities, the public, and each other. At band rehearsals, a certain code of conduct is expected from each member in order for the session to be a positive experience for all. Be at practice in time to be set up and warmed up by 7:30. If circumstances prevent you from being on time, enter and set up with as little disturbance as possible. If at all possible, bring your own music stand. The band has a small number of stands to be used in an emergency, but relies on the individual musicians to provide their own. While the rehearal is in session, there is to be NO PLAYING except when asked to by the conductor. It is very important that each musician follow the directions of the conductor. Although the rehearsals are intended to be informal, talking should be kept to a minimum while it is in session. Save excess talking and socializing for breaks. Cell phones and pagers should be SHUT OFF, or at least set to NOT have an audible alarm. If uncertain as to which part to play, ask senior members of the section. No musician should be expected to play a part that he/she is uncomfortable with or to play a part in a concert different from that that was played in rehearsal, regardless of the changes in available musicians.


In case of last minute scheduling changes in band activities due to inclement weather or other unexpected events, the band posts late-breaking announcements on the home page of their website . Band members are also free to call anyone on the executive committee for last minute information, or to email . In the case of unusual circumstances, the band maintains a phone chain to notify members of schedule changes. Anyone wishing to be added to the chain should notify a member of the executive committee or email the webmaster. The "emergency" contact phone number is 908 509 1247, and is always monitored and updated on days of band rehearsal or other band activity.


Most concerts are performed in black and white dress, rather than in full parade uniform. Announcements will be made prior to each event as to which dress will be used. The black and white dress is supplied by the individual and consists of:

Black trousers or black skirt.

Black shoes.

Black socks or dark (black if possible) stockings.

White shirt, with no tie. Depending upon the season, the shirt will either be short-sleeved or long-sleeved. If the short-sleeved shirt is specified, white polo shirts with the band's logo are preferred, and are available for purchase from the band.


The Hackettstown Community Band has a standard uniform that is used for parades and other public appearances. Many of the Band's public appearances are judged, and the uniformity of appearance is a significant part of the judging criteria. To that end, it is important that each individual member of the Band be conscious of what that uniform consists. Responsibility for cleaning, ironing, and maintenance for all parts of the uniform rests with the individual. As funds permit, allowances will be made annually to participating individuals to help defray some of the expenses incurred in uniform maintenance. The availability of funds, however, does not affect the individual's responsibility to have a properly cared for uniform at all functions where it is required. The uniform consists of three groupings:

1. Hat, trousers, shirt, and braid, supplied by the Band to the individual.

2. Socks, shoes, and belt, supplied by the individual.

3. Optional accessories, supplied by the individual.


The band supplies a hat, shirt, trousers, braid, and ascot to individuals who have made a commitment to participate in band functions. This equipment remains the property of the band and must be returned to the band should the individual stop participating. None of this equipment is to be modified, except for clothing alterations necessary to provide a proper fit. Instructions for wearing the equipment are as follows:

Hat(with supplied emblem): Straight on head, with front of headband down over forehead, with brim high enough so as not to obscure eyes.

Trousers: full up around individual's natural waist, with length set so that the (cuffless) bottoms just come to the tops of the shoes.

Shirt: Sleeves down and fully buttoned, shirt tail fully tucked into trousers, front fully buttoned except for the top button that is to be left undone.

Braid: Fastened to the button on the left shoulder flap so that it goes under the flap and under the arm.


Socks: Solid black. No exceptions.

Shoes: Plain, solid black leather oxford with round toe are desirable. Loafers, decorations, soles that are molded directly to the shoe, sneakers, boots, pointed toes, buff finish (suede), and glossy finish (patent leather) are to be avoided if possible. The presence of any color other than black is not acceptable.

Belt: Plain, solid black leather with a buckle that does not detract from the rest of the uniform is desirable. Woven belts and hand-tooling are to be avoided if possible. Color decorations are not acceptable.


The uniform as described above is complete. In general, nothing more is desirable. There are certain accessories, however, that may be worn without detracting from the overall effect:

Sunglasses may be worn if desirable for safety and comfort. Frames must not be colored and lenses must be free of reflective coatings.

Jewelry and watches that can be worn under the uniform so as not to be evident are of no consequence. Jewelry that is always worn, such as a wedding ring, is also perfectly acceptable. All other jewelry is to be avoided.

Equipment or appliances that are worn for medical or safety reasons are acceptable. These should be worn in a manner that detracts as little as possible from the overall\tab appearance of the uniform.

Undergarments should be of a style and fit so as not to be evident through the uniform. Brightly colored or lettered Tee shirts, in particular, can be seen through the uniform shirt and are not acceptable.

Pocket contents should be restricted so as not to be evident. Pins, awards, or other decorations attached to any part of the uniform are prohibited on the standard uniform.

Gloves, unless otherwise instructed, are not to be worn.

Hair should be worn in a manner to be least conspicuous. Long hair may be put up so that it is covered by the hat, or be dressed in braids or a pony tail, but should not be left to fall loosely over the back of the shirt collar.


The Hackettstown Community Band has a marching group that performs approximately ten parades each year. Some of the parades are on patriotic holidays ( St Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day), some are Firemen's Parades, and some are Special Events. The marching style and tradition are modeled after the style of military bands. We have a standard marching uniform (described elsewhere in the Handbook) and maintain a level of conduct and performance to honor the tradition that we have inherited. The purpose of this Section on Marching is to describe the basics of marching as practiced by our group.


The fundamental concept of marching is to have the entire group operate as a single unit, where we start, step, and stop together. The guide for these elements is a set of whistle commands, a drum beat, and the musical scores. The drum beat is actually a musical score within itself, where a standard cadence is composed of eight measures. The music and cadences are always scored with two beats to a measure, with the LEFT footfall always on the FIRST beat of a measure. Whether marching to a drum cadence or to music, the nominal tempo for the Hackettstown Community Band is 112 beats per minute. It is the responsibility of the bass drum player to maintain this tempo and the responsibility of each member to follow it.

Marching Alignment

At the time of lineup before a parade, the Parade Conductor assigns positions to the players in the band. This varies somewhat from one parade to the next because of variations in instrumentation and in the total size of the band. The band may be organized in rows of four or five players each, with the number of rows determined by the total size of the band. If the number of players is not an exact multiple of four or five, there may be "holes" in the formation. These holes should never be on the flank (outside) of the formation, and should be allotted a space the same as if it were occupied by a player. When lining up, the spacing between the rows is determined solely by the front row. All of the rows behind the first row should follow directly behind that first row so that the lines are straight. The spacing between the rows is set by the players on the right flank. For this reason, only seasoned members should march right flank. All of the other player "guide right", aligning themselves so each row is straight and perpendicular to the line of march.


The rules for alignment work very well for a band standing still or marching in a straight line. Turning corners presents a different problem and a different set of rules apply. To negotiate a turn, the Hackettstown Community Band uses a "Gate Turn", which gets its name from the action of a swinging gate. Each row acts as an independent gate, and turns as a unit, maintaining a straight alignment. This is done by having the players on the inside of the turn take much smaller steps while the players on the outside of the turn continue a normal stride. Those in the middle adjust their strides in order to keep the ROW STRAIGHT. During a turn, each player FOLLOWS DIRECTLY IN THE FOOTSTEPS of the person in front of him. DO NOT TRY TO KEEP THE LINES STRAIGHT while negotiating a turn. IF YOU FIND YOURSELF DOING A SIDE-STEP DURING A TURN, THEN YOU ARE NOT DOING IT CORRECTLY. It is a very common mistake, because of the normal desire to keep the lines straight, but that desire must be suppressed while doing a gate turn.

Whistle Commands

There are five defined whistle commands that the Parade Conductor uses to control the band.

ATTENTION: Two short blasts, close together. This command is used to assemble the band for roll call, line up, and announcements.

START CADENCE: Four blasts (two measures), in cadence time, to start the drum cadence. The cadence begins on the beat following the last whistle blast.
NOTE: The Hackettstown Community Band does NOT mark time, or march in place; therefore, when the drum cadence begins, the band remains still.

START MARCHING: Three blasts, in cadence time, given near the end of a cadence. It is always timed so that the beat following the third whistle blast is the last beat of the cadence. The band steps off (on the left foot) on the first beat of the next cadence. If the band is standing still and a cadence is being played, it is very important to be ready for this command so that the band can start off together.

ROLL OFF: One long whistle blast during a cadence. This command is used to signal the percussion section to play a Roll-off after the completion of the current cadence. Each member should be listening for this command so as to be prepared for it. When the Roll-off begins, the instruments should be brought from their carry position to their play position so as to be ready for the beginning of the musical number. The Roll-off takes eight beats. The musical selection begins on the beat following the last beat of the Roll-off.

STOP PLAYING: One very long whistle near the end of a strain in a musical selection. When this command is given, the band plays to the end of the strain. If the band is marching, the beat following the end of the strain begins a new drum cadence. If the band is stopped, the percussion does not continue with a new cadence.

Other Commands

MUSIC: The Hackettstown Community Band marches with a flip-folder of musical selections. These are normally played in the order that they are arranged in the flip-folder; however, there are frequent exceptions to this procedure. Changes in musical selections are given verbally. Each member needs to listen for this information and have the correct selection ready. The flip-folders are organized so that some selection are on one side and some are on the other. The instruction "flip the book over" means that the entire flip-folder must be removed from the lyre and turned over so that the selections on the other side are available.

STOPS/STARTS: Sometimes a parade gets held up so that the band is forced to stop while units ahead clear the way. There is no fixed command for this, but players need to always be on the alert, even while playing. When the band stops, it is important to stop together, and not to mark time while standing. If the stoppage is of short duration, the cadence or musical selection may continue, and there may not be a "Start Marching" whistle command to begin marching again. Once again, keeping alert is the only way to know what is happening. When resuming after standing, it is very easy to start on the wrong foot. Check yourself, remembering that the LEFT foot always gets the FIRST beat of a measure. If you find you are out of step, a simple "skip-step" will put you on the correct foot again. If you are unsure what that means, ask a seasoned member to show you.

SPLIT: The Hackettstown Community Band is frequently hired by other marching units, most often fire companies. It is customary at the end of the parade to honor their marching unit by doing a "Split". This is either instituted by a Drum Major or by a verbal command. During a split, the band separates down the middle, the left half going to the left side of the street, and the right half going to the right side of the street so that two lines are formed for the honored unit to march between. There should be no break in cadence or playing during the split. After the last of the honored marching unit has passed through, the band closes up ranks immediately, with the last row assembling first. This is very important, so as not to allow motor units pass through. Once again, the band continues to play without interruption and proceeds along the line of march, where the honored marching unit performs a split and permits the band to march between their ranks.

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