The Vanguard

The Dowling Catholic Vanguard (DCV) is an organization dedicated to the advancement of the marching arts and the education of its members. Because responsibility, self-discipline, teamwork, leadership, and all musical skills are characteristic of the class, we believe that the marching band activity is an essential part of the music curriculum at Dowling Catholic High School. Through hard work, motivation, and dedication, the experience gained from performing in the Vanguard is invaluable.

The Dowling Catholic Vanguard strives for a top quality performance in every detail of the program. Very careful planning, scheduling, and preparation goes into the marching program, long before the first practices have begun. Because of the tremendous complexity of the entire program DCV begins rehearsals in June and rehearses throughout the summer. DCV typically finishes in late October.

The Dowling Catholic Vanguard program is more than a football halftime show. It is a musical and theatrical sport that combines quality musical literature with color, theatrics, and a visual display of coordinated movements which requires many hours of preparation and rehearsal. DCV competes in several contests throughout the fall semester, and through this being viewed by many people across Iowa and Missouri. The Vanguard is the most visible part of our band program.


IMG_2897The DCV drumline is the percussion section of the Vanguard and at times performs separately from the Vanguard. Our drumline is made up of two main parts: The Battery (Marching Snares, Tenors, and Bass Drums) and the Pit (all non-marching keyboards and electronics). The Drumline has established itself one of Iowa’s most prestigious drumlines and a leader of the art. Few drumline programs in Iowa have ever experienced the level of quality, professionalism, and vivacity that is a foundation and expectation for the DCV Drumline.

The importance of quality music education is taken very seriously. We believe in creating an environment that fosters good habits such as excellent work ethic and self-discipline. Students will learn a great deal about themselves by utilizing responsibility, collaboration, good time-management skills, and self-analysis. We provide an opportunity for the students of the drumline to be musically expressive and develop a passion to perform at the highest levels.

It is vital to the success of the drumline that the characteristic sound, techniques, and overall look of the drumline be defined exactly in our early season technique classes and rehearsals. This is why we dedicate a great deal of time and energy to our art form throughout the summer and in August.

The DCV Drumline is a consistent winner of best percussion awards at marching band contests, and is the only high school drumline from Iowa that has ever performed at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) Marching Percussion Festival (2007, 2009, 2012).


The Colorguard is the nonmusical section of the Vanguard that at times performs separately from the Vanguard. The Colorguard provides additional visual aspects to the performance by interpreting the music that the Vanguard is playing via the synchronized spinning of flags, sabers, shields, or other pieces of equipment, or through dance. The Colorguard uses different colors of flags to enhance the visual effect of the Vanguard as a whole.

The Colorguard performs as part of the Vanguard at half time of home football games as well as at marching band competitions throughout Iowa and Minnesota from August through October. During the winter, the Colorguard sometimes forms “Dunamis” and prepares short routines for basketball halftimes shows. Both men and women are encouraged to participate. Tryouts are held in April.

Jazz BandsJazz BandJazz Band

The Dowling Jazz Bands are groups that typically perform for various DCHS events and around the metro area, and also compete in several contests throughout the fall and winter. The jazz program at Dowling Catholic consists of 2 bands – Jazz Ensemble and the Stage Band.

Jazz Ensemble is the top competitive jazz group who is made up of the most experienced players and available by audition only. Rehearsals begin in August on Tuesday evenings (4:30 – 6:00pm)  Beginning in October 22nd Monday and Friday at 7:00 -8:00am rehearsals are added to the schedule.

Jazz II is our “2nd Jazz Band” and is a less-competitive group. The class goals are to give an outlet for students interested in jazz, encourage growth in the Jazz idiom with students who are less experienced in the art, and to prepare students who want to continue with Jazz and eventually audition for the Jazz Ensemble. Rehearsals begin in August on Tuesday evenings (3:30-4:30pm)  Beginning in October 21st Thursday 7:00 – 8:00am rehearsals are added to the schedule.

Wind Bands

IMG_7247Wind Band is indoor seated traditional band – much like we would see in a symphony orchestra. It begins at the conclusion of the Vanguard season – and at this time Vanguard students who play instruments automatically play in the wind bands. Instrumentation includes bassoons, larger bass clarinets, french horns , oboes, as well as all the other instruments typically seen with Vanguard and Jazz Bands. We have two wind bands: Symphony Band – which performs advanced literature and is made up of 11th and 12th grade students, and Concert Band – which performs intermediate/advanced literature and is made up of 9th and 10th grade students. Both bands perform for the Christmas Concert, Deep Maroon Serenade in February, All-City Concert Band festival, the Spring Concert in May, and State Large Group Festival.

Chamber Ensembles

Students are encouraged to participate in our non-required ensembles. These groups typically perform for local events and participate in area festivals, and rehearse a minimal amount to accommodate students’ needs. These groups give great supplemental instruction on the various instruments. Some of our groups are:

Flute Choir – meets Thursday mornings before school

Clarinet Choir – meets Friday mornings before school

Brass Choir – meets Friday mornings before school

Woodwind Quintet – meets Thursdays after school

Percussion Methods – meets as a class during school 2nd semester only.

Pit Orchestra – participates in performing the background music for the spring musical in April/May.

Pep Band

IMG_4464Our athletic “Pep Band” is any band that plays for athletic events (football, basketball, etc.). Typically we divide the entire band into two parts (pep band “A” and “B”) and each half performs for the football playoff games and select basketball games. The Vanguard acts as a “pep band” during 1st quarter of all home football games during the regular season.