Props vs. No Props

Question:  Props vs nonprops, large props vs small props.  Why does it seem the schools that use big elaborate props do better than schools that use smaller props. 
Do the judges know the demographics of schools rural vs city schools ahead of time?

Answer:  I think there’s always been a huge misconception surrounding the use of props.  Many people have the mindset that the band that uses either the most props or the largest props seems to always win.  From experience, I can tell you that’s not always the case.  First of all, the use of props is evaluated differently by the different judges.  While the visual performance judge may look at how the performers move in, out, and around the prop, the visual effect judge will be evaluating how the prop fits into the overall coordination of the show, where it is staged, how effectively it is used, and whether or not it helps or hinders the overall design.  The music effect judge may also comment if the staging of the prop (or performers on the prop) affects the musical program from a blend and focus standpoint. 

I’ve judged groups who have employed the extensive use of props which haven’t provided any type of enhancement to their overall program.  The successful utilization of props involves the design team doing their homework in order that the props are an asset to the program instead of a distraction.

As for the demographics of the schools (rural vs. city schools), we don’t know (nor do we care) about that ahead of time.  We evaluate each group based on the same set of criteria, regardless of their size or where they are located.

– Mark Culp