With the Winter Guard International (WGI) Percussion and indoor percussion season fast approaching, the drumline community is raging with anticipation. Early season videos will soon offer us a first look at the performances that ensembles have been working on. As we enjoy these previews, it's important to maintain a balanced perspective.
Early season performances are a glimpse into the potential and growth of the groups, rather than a final product.
Here are some tips on how to best appreciate these early videos:
1. Respect the Effort: Every ensemble is comprised of real people, with real thoughts and hearts, and we all know this activity can be brutally honest! But remember, not everyone gets it right every single time, and that includes designers. Artists take a risk by bringing their projects into the public light, and it's often stressful when an ensembles entire season is placed into the hands of an individual or team of creators. While you may not enjoy, like, or agree with a show, the least that you can do is respect the effort that they put into making it happen day in and day out. It really goes a long way in the bigger picture of growing the marching percussion community.
2. Focus on Progression: Early season is about laying the groundwork. These performances should be viewed as a measure of progression, not perfection. Indoor percussion is just as competitive as any pro-sport and that includes the early season footage you see of your favorite players, and some you might have never seen. Rarely is a NFL team ever Super Bowl ready at the beginning of the season, so why would you expect the same from a competitive performing art (as crazy as that term sounds). From the entry levels of A Class up thru the World Class elite, the name of the game is growth and that's what these groups are going to do with or without keyboard critiques, and couch judges.
3. Reserve Judgment: Avoid making quick judgments and writing off groups that might become your favorite by the end of the season. Every groups deserves an audience, and it starts with having open minds to what is being presented. As the season progresses, what may initially seem like a major design flaw can evolve into a key feature of a successful performance. In elementary school, most students learn the old saying "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all" and that remains true even to this day. It's perfectly fine to have opinions, but that doesn't mean the entire world wants to hear about how badly that triplet roll sounded during the snare feature at their preview show and how it needs to get better asap in order for them to be a finalist contender. STOP YELLING AT THE SCREEN AND SAYING "LISTEN IN"! What do you think they were trying to do?!
4. Appreciate Different Styles: WGI is celebrated for its variety of styles, and keeping an open mind to different approaches can enhance your experience. Of course there's always the debate of "West Coast Best Coast" vs. "East Coast Beast Coast" but there is so much diversity in musical and visual approach to many of the ensembles that many times it's hard to get bored watching back to back shows because many designers do their best to push the activity forward by creating fresh concepts and ideas. For every one of your favorite groups, go watch two groups that you may have never even heard of and you're more than likely going to discover one of your new favorite designers and ensembles.
5. Offer Constructive Criticism: When critiquing, aim to provide constructive feedback that supports and builds the community thru conversation rather than bashing. It's a great thing to see group chats and threads discussing the different things that make these performances and their performers great! While it might just be a critique, it might also become a gospel to younger readers and even veterans alike. Does this mean that a designer is scrolling endlessly at night, dissecting your unique critique that will miraculously fix their shows problems? Most likely not. Are members going to ball up in the corner because you say that their world-class instructors don't know what they're doing? Presumably, no.... They chose that ensemble and auditioned for that group because they believe in THAT ensembles process, and want to see it through. But constructive criticism in open discussion does mean that you are sparking an interesting conversation with other community members that are just as passionate and engaging in good old fashioned human debate. If you really want to have fun and support the activity, be creative and write down your thoughts and opinions at the beginning of the season, and compare them to what the ensemble does at the end to test your own perception and viewpoints.
CHECK OUT THE FIRST SNIPPET OF PULSE PERCUSSION 2024
As we anticipate a season full of energy and creativity, here are the key dates and locations for major events:
- February 24th:
- Temecula, CA
- Trumbull, CT
- Orlando, FL
- March 2nd:
- Spartanburg, SC
- Dallas, TX
- March 2nd-3rd:
- Indianapolis, IN
- March 16th-17th:
- Atlanta, GA
- March 23rd-24th:
- Fullerton, CA
- April 18th-20th:
- World Championships in Dayton, Ohio
These events will showcase the development and skills of various ensembles, culminating in the World Championships. The full schedule can be found at WGI's Percussion Calendar. So let’s approach this season with open minds and a supportive attitude, ready to appreciate the hard work and creativity of all participants.
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