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The History of Modern Color Guard

By Edited Dec 22, 2015 0 0

You may have seen a color guard perform at the local high school football game or march down the road at the 4th of July parade.  These performers are highly skilled spinners, dancers and entertainers.  But where did modern color guard start?

The traditional color guard began during the English reign around the time of the American Revolution.  Bands would travel with soldiers playing music to keep their spirits high.  A soldier carrying a flag would march alongside displaying their unit’s colors. 

As marching bands became increasingly popular directors would add dancers to the performance.  By the 1980’s, many marching bands would compete across the state or county and were challenged to add more excitement to each performance.   The main purpose of a modern color guard is a visual representation of the music being played by the band.

Lincoln Way Marching Knights 1985

Today, color guards range in size from one member to over fifty members.  Most members have dance, gymnastic or musical background.  Color Guard is popular in high school bands and well as college groups.

Some members begin their color guard career because they play an instrument that cannot be played while marching.  Other members, look forward to being a member like children who desire to be a cheerleader.

The Color Guard will perform with the marching band using the same football field that teams play on during half-time.  The group typically consists of:








Younger members will dance and spin flag only.  As their skill becomes more advanced they will move onto learning the rifle and sabre.  Baton twirlers usually begin at a young age and are more likely to be found with a collegiate band.

Color Guard has become so popular the sport has expanded into Winter Guard.  Winter Guard performs on a gym floor using a tarp to cover.  Winter Guard groups can do advanced tosses that might be too risky to do in the elements.

As the years have progressed so have the themes and elements of Winter Guard.  Today, a Winter Guard member would have to have some dance, gymnastic and possibly cheerleading experience.


Winter Guard Video

Color Guard is a growing and exciting activity that combines music, art, and physical activity. If you are interested in joining your local Color Guard just ask your director for more information.

Marching Band



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