There are a number of specialized pieces of equipment that drum majors use to more effectively execute their duties. These include a whistle, a mace or baton, their uniform, and podium(s).


In British and European tradition, a drum major usually wears the same uniform as the rest of the band with the additional of a diagonal sash.

Drum majors of marching bands in the United States often wear a uniform different from the rest of the band (which may either be a show-specific uniform, or a custom uniform based on the school's uniform or colors) and is a slight modification of the standard uniform. It can be as simple as extra shoulder decorations, a cape, different-colored plumes, or a chain on the helmet, or as complicated as a specialized chest section, and is designed to both help the drum major stand out when coming onto the field and to give distinction to the leader of the band. Some high school drum majors do not wear a different uniform, however, and are recognized by their field or parade position. It is mostly a director's discretion, and is more common only on the high school level.


Military bands, civilian brass bands and pipe bands generally use a mace for giving signals and commands while marching. As marching bands in the United States have started to focus more directly on halftime shows and less on parades, the traditional use of the mace has largely vanished from high school and college marching bands, in preference of hand movements, occasionally with the use of a conductor's baton or whistle.


When a band is not marching, the drum major may conduct the band from a stage using a baton.


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