Baton Twirling Score Sheet (1952)

The following baton twirling score sheet and illustrations are dated 1952. Examples of baton twirling ephemera, the score sheet covers a number of criteria. Measures include: smoothness; coordination; speed; sureness; variety; originality; control and drops. Also, fumbles; slips; execution; grace; poise; personality and showmanship. In addition, ambidexterity; aerials; finger-twirls and footwork. The criteria is further broken down or defined with evaluations like “jerky”, “lacks snap” and “bends over too much.”

The twirling score sheet is the work of the late H.E. Nutt (1897-1981). Nutt was cofounder and former President of VanderCook College of Music, Chicago. According to an article published on the school’s website, Nutt influenced several generations of music teachers throughout the United States.

We have shared this item along with the following baton twirling illustrations, for educational purposes. We don’t intend to infrige upon the copyright. These items are interesting ephemera and underscore how baton twirling nomenclature has developed, or perhaps not developed, since 1952. Lack of nomenclature in baton twirling is something writer Terry Southern addressed in his seminal work, Twirling At Ole Miss (February 1, 1963). Here is the excerpt:

In any case it has evolved now into a highly developed art and a tightly organized movement—though by no means one which has reached full flower. For one thing, a nomenclature—that hallmark of an art’s maturity—has not yet been wholly formalized. Theoretically, at least, there should be a limit to the number of possible manipulations, each of which could legitimately be held as distinct from all others—that is to say, a repertory which would remain standard and unchanged for a period of time. The art of baton twirling has not yet reached that stage, however, and innovations arise with such frequency that there does not exist at present any single manual, or similarly doctrinaire work, on the subject. Doubtless this is due in large part to the comparative newness of the art as a large and intensely active pastime—the Dixie National Baton Twirling Institute, for example, having been founded as recently as 1951. The continuing evolution of the art as a whole is reflected in the names of the various manipulations. Alongside the commonplace (or classic) designations, such as arabesquetour-jetécradle, etc., are those of more exotic or contemporary flavor: batwalk-overpretzel, and the like … and all, old or new, requiring countless hours of practice.

Esquire Magazine, February 1, 1963

Do you think baton twirling terms need an upgrade? Do terms like egg beaters and fish tails diminish the sport and artform?

Baton Twirling Illustrations


All rights held by VanderCook College of Music. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact VanderCook College archivist at archives [at] (Source)

P.S. Twirling At Ole Miss

Terry Southern’s article is excellent. Sign up for an account with Esquire and read it for free. In case you didn’t know, the article inspired a short film, which won a bunch of awards. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to view it yet.

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