Entry March is unique for small bands in several ways, the first obvious being a march in the key of Bb minor! This will help train their ears to minor keys (with no accidentals) while still playing in a comfortable range for young players. And the notes still fit in easy fingering patterns.
The name of the piece came from a student (they often do). To them it sounded like a caravan (original title) of soldiers marching off to war. It has a percussion and bass line obligato that starts soft and builds throughout. We always said the soldiers were getting closer.
When the melody enters, it should be understated at first. The long notes should have full value and the eighth notes should be very separated. The accents are really there for weight, not emphasis. Both the melody and bass line have a syncopated part on beats 3 & 4 that the full band can count out together. Though they have this common rhythm, they have it at different times.
The woodwind runs came out of a scale exercise I wrote when teaching the minor scale. I taught this pattern to the whole band. Kept them busy while the woodwinds were learning their part, and everyone got some minor scale patterns under their fingers.
While the percussion does have a lot of repetition, I usually try and write a small ensemble feature for them in my pieces. The parts are more linear than a traditional march. If you can get them on their own, getting them to learn to listen to the other parts and make their part go to the others will really intrigue them. I also away write a lot of parts because I have big sections. It can be performed with fewer players – leaving out the parts at the director’s discretion.