NSBA - Nebraska State Bandmasters Association

Upcoming Dates

Young Band Director Boot Camp- June 28, 2024
State Marching Band- October 26, 2024
8th Grade All-State -January 11, 2025
NSBA Spring Convention- March 6-8, 2025
Concert Band Festival- April 2-3, 2025
State Jazz Band Festival- April 10-11, 2025




(Revised 3-23-20)



Participation is open to any Nebraska band whose band director is a current member of NSBA. Membership dues and application form may accompany the Contest Application and fee. (Separate checks are necessary.) Each competing band member must be a properly enrolled, full-time student at the school represented by the band, or a student at the feeder school of the participating high school.

  • Penalty: No NSBA Membership. Voided application and entry fee returned.


NSBA sanctioned contests, including State Marching Contest Competition and Festival Sites, will now have the following five classes as labeled and split below. As a reminder, the student enrollment number that will determine classification is based off the previous year's NSAA enrollment number (i.e. all students grades 9-11):

Class 1A.............. 0-180 Students
Class 2A............ 181-400 Students
Class 3A ............401-904 Students
Class 4A...........905-1430 Students
Class 5A..............1431+ Students

Once scores have been given, ratings will be awarded based on the following:
Class 5A: Division I > 74.9, Division II 60-74.9, Division III 45-59.9, Division IV < 45
Class 4A: Division I > 71.9, Division II 57-71.9, Division III 42-56.9, Division IV < 42
Class 3A: Division I > 70 Division II 55-69.9, Division III 40-54.9, Division IV < 40
Class 2A: Division I > 66.9, Division II 52-66.9, Division III 37-51.9, Division IV < 37
Class 1A: Division I > 64.9, Division II 49-64.9, Division III 34-48.9, Division IV < 34

After the 2022 season, the Rubric Committee (detailed on pg. 7 of the PDF) will discuss this rule
change and any potential tweaks needed to it moving forward. Then, the classifications (and
updates thereof) will be part of the Committee's regular business starting in 2024-25 and beyond.

Entry Options

All bands performing at the competition site are performing in competition only. All bands will be ranked and a complete recap provided via Competition Suite.


The entry fee is $200.00. The NSBA Executive Board will set the fee.


No refunds will be given for any reason.

  • Penalty: Fee must be received by October 1 or application will not be accepted.


The online application deadline will be set each year by the Marching Chairperson. An email will be sent to acknowledge the proper arrival of the application materials and entry form.

  • Penalty: Schools with incomplete entry information or copyright permission by the application deadline will be placed in a random drawing for the first performance block of time as established in their class.

Copyright Requirements

NSBA requires all enrolled bands to comply with copyright laws in regard to performance and/or arrangements of copyrighted music, visual images and other materials, as well as the use of copyrighted audio or spoken text, and the display of copyrighted words and images.

No band will be permitted to perform if it is not in compliance with the copyright laws of the United States. As such, each participant shall take such steps necessary to obtain and provide NSBA with evidence that it has purchased or otherwise obtained permission/license to use and arrange music performed by it, as well as any visual and/or audio images presented.

All bands must provide evidence of written permission for custom musical arrangements from the copyright holder before they will be allowed to perform in the NSBA State Marching Contest.

Special Note: Permission to Arrange is granted to specific arrangers, for specific performances, by specific bands, within a given year. If a band has gained permission to arrange in the past, it does not necessarily guarantee that permission will automatically be granted again.

  • Proof of copyright compliance must be presented to the Marching Chair by two weeks before the contest or a registered letter will be sent to the director and principal stating that if copyright compliance is not competed by the end of school the Friday before the contest, the band will not be allowed to participate.


Order of Appearance

Bands will be placed in order based on their most recent score from the Competition Site in groups of 3. The top three scoring bands will be placed randomly at the end of the show, preceded by bands 4-6 etc. in the event that a competing school did not attend the previous state competition, that school's most recent Competition Site score will be used. A score can only be used in this way if it was earned within the previous three years. If a school has not competed in the previous three years they will be placed randomly with all new bands at the beginning of the show. Directors may choose to opt out of this rule and be placed in the random draw at the beginning block with the new bands. No special treatment will be given to the site host school, and judges breaks will not take place within a group of three.

Schools with incomplete entry information/ fees/ or copyright compliance by the deadline will be moved to the earliest group within the class

Performance Times

The performance start and end time for the state contest will be established by the marching chair with input from the site host. A reasonable effort is made to avoid ACT or PSAT test conflicts.


All bands will be videotaped at the NSBA State Contest. Each band will receive one free copy of their performance. Additional copies may be purchased from the contracted video company.



Each band will receive a score based on a total of 100 possible points, after converting the 1000 point total by moving the decimal one place to the left. The final score is the total of the averaged music score, the averaged visual score, and the two effect scores. Point allocations for each caption are as follows:

MUSIC (400 points) 200 points possible in Individual Music Performance Ballot & 200 points possible in Ensemble Music Performance Ballot.

VISUAL (200 points) 200 points possible in Individual Visual Performance Ballot & 200 points possible in Ensemble Visual Performance Ballot. The total is divided in half.

EFFECT (400 points) The total points earned from the 200 point Visual General Effect Ballot & 200 points from the Music General Effect Ballot.

The scoring system emphasizes Music, with a total of 60 points. Visual contributions are scored with a total of 40 points.

The Percussion and Auxiliary judges will provide comments for each band. The judge will then assign a score for each group based on the criteria reference material found on the back of the ballot. This score is not factored into the band's overall rating however it will appear on the recap sheet. These numbers will be used to determine the High Guard and High Percussion awards.


All NSBA field competitions will use approved adjudicators. At each competition, one adjudicator in each of the following captions will evaluate all bands from the indicated location.

Individual Music Performance - Field Level
Ensemble Music Performance - Press Box
Individual Visual Performance - Field Level
Ensemble Visual Performance - Press Box
Music Effect - Press Box
Visual Effect - Press Box
Percussion - Field Level
Auxiliary - Press Box
Timing and Penalty - Press Box
Tabulator - Press Box

All judges will make remarks on the aspects of their adjudication assignment for each band's performance. The commentary will be provided to all directors via Competition Suite. Both the band director and students should benefit from the commentary.


All bands will be ranked and presented a trophy in accordance with their ranking. All scores will be announced during the presentation of ratings.

All placements will be announced, beginning with the lowest scoring band through the highest scoring band. Additionally, the highest scoring band in each class will be announced as class champion, and presented with a class champion trophy.

The following awards will be announced during the announcement of placements:

Best Color Guard - High score from the Color Guard sheet
Best Percussion - High score from the Percussion sheet
Best Music - High total of Ensemble Music and Individual Music
Best Marching - High total of Ensemble Visual and Individual Visual
Best Effect - High total of General Effect Music and General Effect Visual

Recaps will be distributed via Competition Suite.


The NSBA Marching Band Chairman will assign a delegate to assess all penalties for rules violations. The person(s) shall be an NSBA board member or a trained designee. Any and all penalties will be assessed based on aggregate score.

Performance Area

The performance area will be a regulation size football field (end line to end line, and sideline to sideline), 160 feet wide by 360 feet long and lined every 5 yards. This includes the area beyond the goal line. In-set or hash marks will be marked according to the Nebraska eleven man football field guideline. College fields will have high school hash marks either painted or taped on. There are no boundary-line penalties, except for the initial field entrance and exit. Bands may cross any line at any time during their show.

Field of Performance

The Field of Performance shall be defined as the entry point to begin the 15-minute interval time, and the exit line to end the 15-minute interval time. Except for the beginning and end of the show, there will be no boundary line penalties. Band members (including drum majors) may cross any boundary line at any time, but they may NOT enter the stands or seating area for any reason. The pit area can be any place within the competition area and will not contain any specific markings or designations.


All aspects of the field show performance must be performed by students. No adult activity during the performance may contribute directly to the music or visual program.


  • Adults may conduct the band at any time during the performance, outside the boundary of the actual football field.

  • Adults may set up and take down equipment before and after the performance.

  • Adults may work the mixing board, power levels and electronics from anywhere.

  • An adult may enter the Performance Field during the Performance to attend to an issue affecting the safety of student performers or respond to “catastrophic” equipment failure (such as failure or loss of power or connectivity to a sound system) without penalty, as determined by the Field and Timing Manager and/ or Contest Director.

  • Penalty: Minimum penalty five-points, maximum, disqualification.


Each band will have 15 minutes for field entry, warm-up, performance, and exit. The minimum show performance time is 5 minutes. The first note of music or the first step by a member of the band proper will start the timing of your performance. Judging will begin immediately following the introduction of the band and cease at the conclusion of the band's performance. The 15 minute interval time begins when the band crosses the entry line as designated in the following section, and ends when all members, equipment and props cross the exit line as defined in the following section. (Judges are advised to not judge the band's exit.)

  • Penalty: Interval time in excess of 15 minutes will result in .1 points per 3 seconds or fraction thereof from the total score. Less than five minutes performance time will result in .1 points per 3 seconds or fraction thereof from the total score.

Field Entrance

Ensembles will be allowed to line up on the plane of the goal line or in the vicinity of the goal line (as determined by the contest director) prior to the start of the 15-minute interval. The contest director will determine the starting line for front ensemble equipment. Ensembles must not make forward progress or begin entrance routine until the starting judge has indicated that the ensembles' 15-minute interval has begun.

Once the 15-minute time interval has begun, all portions of the performing group, including staff and performing members may enter the performance field from the entry point or backside. No competing band member with the exception of the front line percussion, posted wind instruments, or performers presetting equipment shall enter the field of performance from the front with the intent to perform, as this area is reserved for the removal and set-up of pit, stationary percussion, props, and color guard equipment.

The front ensemble entry boundary line for pit percussion, etc. may be adjusted in different performance venues. For a specific site, NSBA may require modifications to the band's entrance or exit routines. Site-specific information (field markings, entrance and exit areas, etc.) will be provided to participants approximately one month before the contest.

  • Penalty: At the discretion of the NSBA site representative and shall not exceed a (5) five-point penalty.

Field Exit

The exit boundary line to end the 15-minute time interval will be the goal line or the plane of the goal line extended to the stands. All portions of the ensemble must cross the exit boundary line prior to the end of the 15-minute interval time. Once the interval time has ended, all portions of the performing group including all performing members, equipment and props must be across the exit line, or goal line. (the goal line being used for and in the direction of the exit) Any cadence/music used as an exit routine must cease once the performance field is vacated. Excessive violations of this policy will result in a penalty. Cadence/music must not disrupt the entrance of the next ensemble. The exit judge will inform ensembles that cadence/music must stop once the performance field has been vacated.

  • Penalty: At the discretion of the NSBA site representative and shall not exceed a (5) five-point penalty.

Performance Procedure

Bands will begin their performance in increments of 15 minutes. With a lapsed time of 13:30 (13 min., 30 sec.) of the previous band's performance, the next band to perform will leave the pre-staging area and be staged behind the entry point. (goal line or plane of the goal line extended to the stands) ready to enter the performance field at the beginning of their 15 minute time interval. All performers, including any members or stagehands used for on field staging of equipment during the performance must enter as described in the field entrance.


The 15-minute time interval begins when any portion of the band crosses the entry boundary line. It is possible that the announcer might be reading the optional announcement of the exiting band while the next band is entering the field. The official introduction for the next band should be read by the announcer on a cue given by the field manager from the drum major or band director.

(Wait for cue from field manager)
"Joining us from __________, Nebraska... please welcome the __________ High School Marching Band!"
(pause for audience response)

"Their musical selections include the following:"
(Announcer reads their selections)
If the drum majors are going to salute, it should occur no later than when the announcer says:

"The Nebraska State Bandmasters Association is proud to present in competition Drum Majors __________ and__________ and the ________High School Marching 'nickname.'" 

A drum major salute is not necessary to indicate that the band is ready to start. Adjudication will begin immediately following the announcement as listed above.


Dropped equipment of any kind will not be penalized. A band member, NSBA official, or judge may retrieve equipment, without penalty to the band.

Off-road mechanized vehicles (defined as golf carts, garden tractors, ATV All-Terrain-Vehicles, etc.) will be allowed to pull equipment trailers for set up and take down unless prohibited by an individual site. A protective bib must be rigged underneath the vehicle so no fluids drop to the turf. Pick-up trucks or similar vehicles are not permitted.

The following are NOT ALLOWED AT ANY TIME:

  • Pyrotechnics of any kind, including fireworks, discharge of arms, or any hazardous materials that may cause damage, present a safety hazard, remain on the field after the conclusion of the band's performance or disrupt the scheduled flow of the contest.
  • Lights-out routines
  • Animals
  • Hazardous equipment or illegal use of equipment.

The following are NOT ALLOWED in stadiums with ARTIFICIAL TURF:

  • Powder, glitter, or any material that may damage or affect the artificial turf (“carpet”)
  • Props that leave excessive residue (paper wrappings, etc.)

  • Penalty: Minimum 5 points, maximum, at the discretion of contest director, up to disqualification.


All props and equipment must be designed and be of a quantity so that they may be brought into the Performance Area from the band entrance gate during the band's normal set up time. In order to minimize distraction from the preceding band's performance, props and equipment may not be preset anywhere in the Performance Area prior to the beginning of the band's 15-minute time interval. No pre-staging in loading docks, stadium tunnels, stadium corridors, or other stadium areas will be allowed. Following the end of the band's performance, all props and equipment must be in continuous movement until entirely removed from the stadium. No post-staging in loading docks, stadium tunnels, stadium corridors, or other stadium areas will be allowed.

Equipment/props built and/or used for NSBA events shall be limited to a maximum total height of twelve (12) feet, including wheels, platforms, safety railings, other equipment, or other props placed upon the stage.

No participant may be, or be placed on, any portion of any prop where the participant's feet are more then six (6) feet above the playing surface of the stadium, unless appropriate safety railing and/or other safety equipment are in place and used.

American Flag

Use of the American Flag is optional. It is the director's responsibility to see that proper flag etiquette, as outlined in the American Legion Manual for Flag Etiquette, is shown at all times.

  • Penalty: Any display of the flag not in keeping with the American Legion Manual for Flag Etiquette will draw a penalty from the contest director. Use of the American Flag is optional. It is the Director's responsibility to see that proper flag etiquette, as outlined in the American Legion Manual for Flag Etiquette, is shown at all times. Minimum penalty 5 points, maximum, disqualification.

Unsportsmanlike Behavior

The timing and penalties judge will penalize any band exhibiting extraordinary behavior that results in the disruption of the contest proceedings, for such exhibition.

  • Penalty: Minimum penalty 5 points, maximum, disqualification.


All pre-show warm-ups should be done in the prescribed areas, or far enough away from the stadium so as not to interfere with the performance of another band.

  • Penalty: After one warning, musical warm-up, or any sound disrupting a competing band or the adjudication of a band, will result in a 5-point penalty.

Communication with Judges

Competing band directors may contact the Starter/Timer or the Contest Director. Directors may not contact any judge during the competition, except when they are in critiquing sessions.

  • Penalty: A 5-point penalty will be assessed any band if the director contacts a judge during the Competition.

Announcement of Ratings With Penalty

The Director of a band being assessed a penalty shall be informed prior to the awards ceremony of the penalty infraction and the penalty assessed. No discussion will be allowed. Bands receiving a lowered division rating as a result of a penalty will be announced as follows:

____________________High School - Penalty assessed, Division_____, _______________.

Electronic Equipment

All electronically produced music must be “live” and played in “real time” by a student. Any adult or student will be allowed to mix audio from anywhere. All other (“prerecorded/sequenced”) music, whether instrumental or vocal, may not be used.

Sounds other than music, such as narration or sound effects, may be prerecorded and used without penalty. Any prerecorded sounds used that are copyrighted must have permission obtained for their use, similar to copyright considerations for music. Evidence of such authority must be included on the Music Information Form required for your participation.

NSBA takes no responsibility for supplying power. If available, site host will provide an electrical outlet at front center field with an extension cord to reach the field, however if power is available it will be used at the band's own risk!

Awards Ceremony

During and immediately following the awards ceremony ONLY the drum majors/guard caption members and their directors are permitted on the field. At the discretion of the site host would be the establishment of a meeting point where bands may be escorted onto the field following the awards ceremony. This option may only be available to class champions and the overall champion at the Competition Site and at the discretion of the site hosts at the Festival Site and will be communicated by the site host. Penalty for violation is at the discretion of the NSBA executive board and may range from (but is not limited to) formal reprimand of band director/program to not being eligible to perform at next year's NSBA marching contest/festival.

The rule will be placed in the NSBA Site Host handbook as well as added to our list of rules for the contest found on the website. Additionally, the following announcement (or something similar) must be read prior to each awards ceremony. " Due to liability concerns only drum majors/guard caption members and their directors are allowed on the field following the awards ceremony except for those eligible bands who may meet at ___________ following the awards ceremony. Please see the NSBA marching contest rules for more information"