This week, many dedicated and talented percussionists will make their way to Dayton, Ohio for the WGI Percussion World Championships.
The indoor percussion ensembles and drumlines who compete in WGI spend countless hours during their season rehearsing so that they’re able to have the best performance possible at every show. These indoor performing groups typically consist of a front ensemble and a marching percussion section. Some groups also incorporate an additional section of visual performers to enhance the visual effect and impact of their production. Not all indoor performing groups are affiliated with a high school. There are independent performing groups whose membership consists of performers from all different locations.
“Working at the level of WGI exponentially expands that potential. One of the biggest benefits is the kids being exposed to the best units in the world and their indoor program. Seeing how other groups demonstrate excellence and creativity. It is truly a family environment and my kids have made friendships with kids from all over the country.” – John Jamison (Director of the Dennis-Yarmouth winter percussion ensemble)
Vic Firth Educator, Chris Rivera, has been the Band Director at Norwalk High School since 2010. In addition to supervising the school’s marching band, three concert bands, two jazz ensembles, and two winter guards, he also directs the indoor percussion ensemble which competes in WGI’s Scholastic Open Class.
Chris took the time to reflect on what the experience of being involved with an indoor percussion ensemble is like as well as what it’s like to compete in WGI.
“The benefits of being a part of a competitive indoor percussion ensemble are endless. In addition to learning advanced level musical and visual concepts, students also gain time management, dedication, teamwork and communication skills. At Norwalk High School we rehearse 3 days each week. Tuesdays 6-9pm are typically a visual focus, Thursdays 6-9pm are mostly focused on music, and Saturdays are for ensemble.”
“I have been involved in WGI since 2004. I am fortunate to be on the WGI Advisory Board to see the inner working of the organization. It is amazing to see how much the activity has grown, not only from a design perspective but also in regards to what the members are expected to perform, in such a short amount of time. Other than the fact that we still use percussion instruments, the activity has completely evolved into something new and exciting. WGI week is amazing. Our schedule is always completely full and down to the minute. There really isn’t much free time at all. The emotions amongst the group during WGI week can range from complete panic and chaos to absolute joy and celebration!”
Three things that Chris looks forward to at WGI each year:
- Seeing the look on his students faces when they come off the floor after having the best possible performance they could achieve.
Watching all the other ensembles and seeing which ones come up with new and innovative ideas that haven’t been seen before.
Meeting up with friends from around the country that he only gets to see once a year at this event.
Chris’s words of advice for performers and staff as they head into WGI:
“Stay Calm! WGI can be very stressful to both members and staff. If the members see the staff freaking out, they will most likely freak out as well. Just remember, everyone has the same environment and logistics to contend with (weather, electronics, the tunnel at UD arena, travel, etc…). Issues are sure to arise during the week, but its how you handle them that will determine how the rest of the experience goes.”