WGI Finals Debut

I am writing this column on my long flight back to California following the WGI Percussion World Championships in Dayton, Ohio. Wow! What a trip. I thought I would share some of my experience bringing Homestead High School from Cupertino, Calif., to WGI for the first time.

Planning Ahead

Logistically, as you might imagine, bringing a 35-member ensemble from California to Ohio is quite complicated. We started planning with our wonderful parent volunteers back in September, figuring out hotel rooms, flights, rental vans, trucks, and meals.

A week before WGI, we packed all our equipment into a truck for the three- to four-day drive to Dayton. We had visual-only rehearsals to keep the show fresh while all the equipment was on the road.

On Site

We spent Thursday rehearsing in restaurant parking lots next to our hotel in Dayton. It was a very cool scene, with six to eight other ensembles rehearsing in parking lots near us. Everywhere you looked were drumlines putting in their last few hours of rehearsal. Thursday night we rented an amazing gymnasium through WGI for our last run-through. The kids were ready!

Friday morning Mother Nature threw everyone a curveball with temperatures dipping into the 30’s. All the Scholastic World lines were doing their best to mentally prepare for prelims while trying to keep warm. Kids running laps around the parking lot was as common as playing 8’s.

Waiting and Celebrating

We had a solid prelims performance, and then came the hard part—waiting to find out if we made finals. After three hours of nervous waiting, my cell phone started to blow up … we had made it! After a relaxing afternoon of watching Percussion Independent World prelims, a group dinner, and early lights out, we were back at it Saturday morning, rehearsing in a local gymnasium. Then it was show time!

Our finals performance was our best ever. It was an incredible end to an amazing week and months of hard work. Our kids got to see dozens of other outstanding ensembles, including groups such as Rhythm X and Aimachi, which they had only ever seen online. And the finals retreat celebration lasted well past midnight.

Experiencing WGI Finals was a real blessing for our program, and I cannot wait to get started for next year!

About the Author

Lane Armey is the battery percussion coordinator for Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif. During the past 10 years, he has worked with various groups including Northwestern University and the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.

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