Mid-States Band Association



The following rules and guidelines have been established for hosting an MSBA sanctioned competition

(effective 09/01/2001, updated December 2023 [Highlighted]):

  1. The Competition Field

    1.1  The competition field shall be a regulation football field, lined every five yards, with hash marks (thirds) included. Visible markers shall be placed at the four corners and at the ends of the fifty yard line. A ten yard perimeter shall be provided at the entrance and exit areas.

    1.2 Bands may breach any boundary during the natural development of the drill of their show with no penalty being given.
  2. Judges for Field Competition

    2.1 A minimum of seven (7) judges are needed (see rules 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6 and 2.7).

    2.2 All judges will be assigned by the Central States Judges Association.  Non CSJA members may be assigned at the request of the contest host.

    2.3 Three General Effect Judges: there shall be three General Effect judges for a Mid-States Band Show:
            - Music General Effect #1 (20 points)
            - Music General Effect #2 (20 points)
            - Visual General Effect (20 points)

    2.4 Two Performance Judges: there shall be two Performance judges for a Mid-States Band Show:
            - Music Performance (20 points)
            - Visual Performance (20 points)
    2.5 Two Caption Judges: there shall be two Caption judges for a Mid-States Band Show:
            - Percussion Performance
    Color Guard Performance

    Captions shall be judged separately for overall placement within the specific categories: the Percussion and Color Guard caption scores will NOT factor into the competition placement scores determined in sections 2.3 and 2.4 above.

    2.6 One Timing and Penalty judge shall be used and shall be on or near the field.

2.7 All judges identified in sections 2.3, 2.4 and 2.5 should be located in, on or around the press box area.

2.8 All bands shall be supplied with a digital recording from each judge and MSBA evaluation sheets for each caption.


2.9 All host sites will use the Competition Suite tabulation software.

  1. Timing and Procedures

    3.1 Bands shall be scheduled on fifteen (15) minute intervals. A contest official will signal the competing bands to begin their Preset and Warm-up, which begins their 15 minute time block. Prestaging of props and sideline percussion may begin upon completion of the participating band on the field.  Instrumental performers may NOT enter the field until the 15 minute block begins. Any on-field warm up, sound check, and judged performance should not begin until the 15-minute block begins.

    3.2 Bands may exit the field with a percussion cadence or rim taps.

    3.3 Judging shall begin with the drum major's (field commander's) salute. All judges shall evaluate the entire show.

    3.4 The following AWARDS & ANNOUNCEMENTS format shall be required for each MSBA contest:
    For Each Class (or finals at championships):
            1. Best Music (total of all music scores)
            2. Best Visual (total of all visual scores)
            3. Best General Effect (total of all general effect scores)
            4. Best Field Commander (if judged)
            5. Best
    Color Guard (if judged)
            6. Best Percussion (if judged)
            7. Band Placement AND Scores IN REVERSE ORDER (number of places and awards is at the discretion
                of the contest director)
    Overall, Regardless of Class:

            1. Reserve Grand Champion (optional)
            2. Grand Champion

    3.5 If two bands tie, the tie stands.  There are no tie breakers.

  1. Field Rules and Penalties

    4.1 Timing penalties are one-tenth (0.1) point per three (3) seconds or fraction thereof per violation.
  2. Miscellaneous Rules and Options of the Contest Director

    5.1 The announcement for bands to start preset or warm-up and the competition show shall be as follows:
         1) Please welcome to the field <name> High School Band
    (Drum Major Salute or Signal from Band Director when ready)
         3) <name> High School Band - you may take the field for competition (exhibition).

    5.2 Should inclement weather cancel a field competition, you are encouraged to hold the competition indoors or at a stand-still. Standstill performances will be judged by music judges only.

    5.3 Any infraction or improper conduct for which no rule is given may be grounds for warning or penalty by the contest chair. A penalty from a minimum of one-tenth (0.1) point to a maximum of "disqualification" may be assessed. Such judgments will be rendered by the contest chair after consultation with the head judge.

    5.4 Field Commander Award: No award shall be given unless there is a separate judge specifically assigned to evaluate the Field Commander performances. THIS RATING IS NOT INCLUDED IN DETERMINING THE BAND'S COMPETITION SCORE.

    5.5 Color Guard Award: No award shall be given unless there is a separate judge specifically assigned to evaluate the Color Guard performances. THIS RATING IS NOT INCLUDED IN DETERMINING THE BAND'S COMPETITION SCORE.

    5.6 Percussion Award: No award shall be given unless there is a separate judge specifically assigned to evaluate the Percussion performances. THIS RATING IS NOT INCLUDED IN DETERMINING THE BAND'S COMPETITION SCORE.

    NOTE: If any judge is hired locally (NOT a Central States Judge), the judge shall have no affiliation with any band competing at the event.

    5.7 All house rules (i.e.- all weather tracks, off-limits areas, etc.) shall be followed providing the contest chair has notified all competing bands of such rules.

  3. Preliminaries and Finals
    6.1 Finalist bands will be chosen using the following format: The highest scoring bands at the performance site regardless of class.

    6.2  In order to participate in the MSBA Championship competition as a competitor or show host, a band must compete in at least one local MSBA competition other than their own.

        6.3 Bands shall perform by Post Mark IN REVERSE ORDER for the Championship Preliminary Contest.

6.4  Bands will draw for finals order.  The bottom five scores will draw for slots 10-6.  The top five scores will draw for slots 5-1 (performance slots are in descending order: slot 10 performs first, slot 1 performs last).

6.5 All decisions at an independent show are at the direction of the contest host, chief judge and with directors input when necessary.

6.6 Any band not honoring their entry into an independent show within two weeks of the event shall be slotted first during the MSBA Championships preliminary competition. Any band not honoring their entry into MSBA Championships within two weeks of the event shall be slotted first during the MSBA Championships the following year. Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Executive Director and President of MSBA, with the consultation of the Advisory Board if necessary, to avoid this penalty.

6.7  Recaps and packets will be distributed to all bands after a preliminary competition.

6.8  All music from traditional wind and percussion instruments or electronic instruments must be performed by a student live and in real time. The use of sampled, prerecorded, or sequenced sounds of woodwind, brass, string, and/or percussion instruments (longer than a single note) is not permitted, EXCEPT during the preplacement/warm up time. Vocal or choral music must either be performed live and in real time or prerecorded and sequenced for playback where a student manually triggers each individual note of the prerecorded vocal performance. Sounds other than music, such as sound effects (siren, thunder) or narration, may be prerecorded and played back through a sound system as part of a bandís performance as a continuous sample.

The MSBA President and Executive Director, in consultation with the Chief Judge and the Advisory Board if necessary, shall have the final authority should issues with electronics arise.  The penalty for a violation will be a warning (then disqualification).

  1. band classification

    7.1 The classifications are determined by the number of winds, percussion and electronics performers.  Any Color Guard person that plays a wind, percussion or electronics instrument at any time during the show shall be counted as a playing member for the purpose of determining a band's class.

    7.2 Bands are classified according to rule 7.1 and are categorized as follows:

     Class A    1 - 29 playing members   Class AAA  45-59  playing members
     Class AA  30 - 44 playing members    Class AAAA  60-89  playing members   
         Class AAAAA  90+     playing members

    7.3 The competing band must declare their class for championships by the last Monday in September.

    7.4 Physically Challenged Performers:  MSBA embraces the inclusion of all students and reaches out to any physically challenged students that have the desire to perform.  There are no penalties for any handler or anyone assisting a physically challenged student and handlers/assistants will not be counted as performing members.


8.1 The MSBA Directors Meeting will be held annually on the Wednesday following Thanksgiving.  This will be a DIRECTORS ONLY meeting.  Site to be determined and posted on the website.


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