Weekend Recap: WGI Percussion World Finals

I meant to write about this last week, but I couldn’t find the words and it ended up being a hectic week so I never got around to it. Now I’m feeling a little more confident and ready.

Taking it all the way back to 2005 when I was introduced to Kyle drumline.

drumline 1

I know that when I say “drumline” I often hear, “Oh, like the movie?” Nope nope nope. Forget everything you may have “learned” in the movie because none of it applies here.

When I joined band as a high school freshman there were two required activities: marching band in the fall and concert band in the winter/spring. In addition, students were encouraged to try out for the musical extracurricular actives: drumline and color guard.

Since I was already a budding new percussionist (formerly a saxophone player), I chose drumline.

With the exception of later dating K, being a band kid and joining drumline are the best decisions I made in my teen years. In October 2005 I attended drumline auditions and made a spot as a marimba player.

Four years later, as a freshman in college, I decided I wasn’t ready to give up music just yet and auditioned for an independent drumline called Matrix. (High school drumlines are “scholastic.” Independent lines are not affiliated with or financial supported by a school system.)

Additionally, there are different levels of difficulty. World is the “advanced level.” Here’s a visual aid:Chart 1My high school was scholastic A. (Later on they moved up to open class). Matrix is an independent world group. Drumline is a competitive pageantry sport and you compete against other lines in your class.

I hope you’re still following along here…

Matrix 2010
Matrix 2010

So this weekend was the end of the season. It was the Superbowl of drumline. After the last few months of competition all the lines come together and compete against those in their class for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

It takes a lot to get to this point.

Drumline members spend their weekends rehearsing in schools, churches, and any other buildings they can borrow/rent. (High school drumlines rehearse throughout the week and on weekends.) When I was a vibraphone player at Matrix we would show up to a school/rehearsal site Friday night, rehearse until 2am, sleep, wake up at 7am and rehearse from 8am to 2am with two one-hour food breaks, then sleep, wake up Sunday, and rehearse until 5pm. At that point we packed up and drove back to college/home/work/wherever.

So before I continue, here’s a video of one of my favorite shows from 2010. It’s a drumline called Pulse Percussion from California- they’re also an independent world group.

Drumline shows are composed of arranged music and drill. This means that someone writes this music for the drumline and then members learn it very quickly, memorize it, and learn the drill to move across the floor. The goal is to execute this perfectly. There is a battery (the moving drums) and a front ensemble (the mallet instruments and rack equipment that doesn’t usually move).

Additionally, shows have a theme or title. The uniforms, show design, props, floor design, etc. center around this theme. If you can come out doing something no one else has done before you also get some serious points.

In 2013 Matrix did a show called Covered. To this day it is my hands down favorite show. I love the music and the drill and the energy this show creates. If you skip over the videos, at least watch this one.

Matrix used real paint in this show, which made the  crowd go nuts every time. (Get it? “Covered”??) Additionally, you might recognize music by Skrillex. (This year Matrix used some music by Drake and Beyonce.) The goal is to make an impact and to do it well. Everyone in that show is a crazy-talented musician.

There are different circuits for drumlines to compete in (depending upon their location), but the biggest world-wide circuit is World Guard International (WGI), based out of Dayton, Ohio. That’s where world finals are and that’s where K and I were this weekend.

|| Side note: Drumlines make up a large percentage of Kyle’s clientele. During these show weekends he spends a lot of time connecting with customers and meeting new people. I go because I love it. This is my 10th year straight at Percussion World Finals. ||

During world finals the best place to be is in the lot. (a.k.a. the parking lot of UD Arena.) This is where you can get up close and personal with the drumlines before they make their way into the arena for competition. The drumlines run through their warm-ups, different chunks of the show, and the entire show while fans crowd around them and watch. The energy in the lot is so, so good. The better the drumline, the bigger the crowd, the better the energy. (Can you tell energy is a huge thing here?)

I wish I could go into more detail, but this is already a novel and there are way too many routes to go from here.

The last two videos were independent world lines, but here’s my high school line (scholastic A) in 2011. K was the main instructor during this year. My baby brother is the tallest snare drummer. And yes, they’re hanging drums from the “swing sets.”

I didn’t even touch the surface, but this sums up my weekend, at least. I’ll leave you with a picture of the gorgeous Dayton weather from the lot on Saturday and a (shaky) link to my Matrix show from 2010.


Have you heard of indoor drumline? Did I leave out anything crucial to your understanding? How on point is my band nerd status today? Are you ready to pack up and head to Dayton for World Finals next spring?


2 thoughts on “Weekend Recap: WGI Percussion World Finals

  1. chelsea @ the new wifestyle April 13, 2015 / 4:47 pm

    wow this is a whole world i know nothing about…how interesting and love that you are still involved!!! also that video and choreography with the drums on the swing set, WAY cool!


    • Louise April 14, 2015 / 8:33 am

      It definitely is a different world- it makes it hard to explain my husband’s job since he works so closely with the competitive music scene. It’s pretty cool, though! And very time consuming… ha!


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