Looking for a performance edge this off-season? Here are five training tips from the Institute of Health and Human Performance's Jon Kabance, RKT, to use as you take to the practice room and gym during the winter. 1. Warm up before you play
Members of the 2005 Blue Knights horn line warm up before a music rehearsal.

This no longer means just picking up your instrument and playing scales. As a marching musician, you are no different than an athlete. Athletes would not step onto the field without properly warming up their bodies, and the same is relevant for musicians. Warming up readies your body for the physical demands of marching and playing your instrument. 2. Balance and core stability
Blue Devils' John Bradford works with a corps member during an informational session presented at the DCI judge's seminar in June, 2006.

You may never have thought that better balance and core stability can help you play better. Well, it's true. When you start to develop better core stability, your body learns the means to effectively hold itself in a better postural position. As you achieve core stability and improved posture, your diaphragm is allowed to open up giving you the ability to project more. The end result? A much bigger sound. 3. Strength and conditioning
2006 Phantom Regiment members do push up reps during a summer rehearsal.

Strength and conditioning is integrated into athletic programs at all levels. Even smaller high school football programs have a weight room where athletes train. Strength and conditioning is just as vital for marching musicians to help increase endurance and stamina in the specific muscles used while marching and playing. This helps prepare your body for long days of drum corps rehearsal and the competitive marching band season. 3. Cardiovascular training
The Cavaliers integrate cardiovascular elements
into a marching basics rehearsal.

Cardiovascular training can be accomplished in several ways. You can run, cycle, swim or participate in other traditional cardiovascular exercises, however, there is another method of cardiovascular training you can use that is even more specific to marching music. When participating in a strength and conditioning program, especially one that is specific to marching music, you can use the program to get a cardiovascular workout. Each exercise should be given appropriate attention to complete, and when you are finished with that exercise, you should immediately move onto the next one. By working through the program intensely, it will keep your heart rate up and give you a specific cardiovascular training benefit. 5. Hydration
Phantom Regiment members grab their water jugs on a rehearsal break during the 2006 season.

It is extremely important that you make a conscious effort to hydrate yourself. This is true at any level and whether you are playing your instrument or participating in a strength and conditioning program. Sports drinks are fine to substitute lost nutrients from exertion, but you should take note to always drink plenty of water.

Learn about products and educational materials offered by Drum Corps International and the Institute of Health and Human Performance that can help get you on your way to preventing injuries, enhancing performance and following a healthy lifestyle. Consult a physician before beginning any exercise program.