Percussion Pre-First Show

It’s near that time of the year that we all love and admire: competition season! Whether were out for regional bragging rights, or out to bring home hardware from Dayton, we all want to do the same thing: provide our students with the best possible show and experience. There are a lot of steps that we have to take in between our first rehearsal and our last show, and getting there goes by so quickly. In the process, we may happen to forget a few things, and I hope as the Education Coordinator, I can help you along the way. Also available to you at your disposal is the entire percussion board: Troy Peterson (Percussion Coordinator), Marvin Battle, Paul Richardson, and Doug Schaffer (Percussion Advisory Board).

Since we’re coming up on the first show of the season, there are a number of things I’d like to talk about today that I hope you’ll find useful. Throughout the season, I plan to send some tidbits that I hope your ensemble will be able to use either for the current season, or for future seasons. Some of these will be rules, some of these will be more bits to help make the competition days a little easier.

  • Be sure to look at the directors forum frequent coming up on the competition days. The directors packet will provide a number of items that you should find useful including:
    1. Entrance Areas
    2. Warm-Up Areas
    3. Performance Schedule
    4. Tarp-refolding instructions
    5. Flow chart for festival
  • If you want to take part in critique, you must sign up the Sunday before the festival. Registration closes at 6 P.M. The link to do so will be on the festival link on the MCCGA Website. Should you have questions on whether or not your sign-up was received, please be sure to email They will be able to assist you in ensuring your registration was completed. If you do not sign up by the Sunday before the show, you may not have the ability to participate in critique
  • Before critique, please be sure to listen to the judge’s tapes before you go in. MCCGA as well as WGI are using tables for scores/tapes this year, in hopes that this will speed up the overall process. Sometimes going on late does not allow you to listen to the tapes, so try to listen to the end to try and get a recap. Also, feel free to bring in a video of the show and record the critique. You can’t remember everything that’s talked about in a 3 minute timeframe, especially when you do it four times, so recording it will allow you to go back and remember items that were talked about specifically (See prior post from Lindsay Vento about this matter.).
  • When you arrive at the competition site, make sure to ask any questions you have at check-in. Those checking in ensembles will be able to provide you with information in regards to where to go to change, where to store equipment, etc. Also, be sure to walk the flow if you are unfamiliar with it. Make sure equipment and props and fit through doorways. Some competition sites will have a storage area by the performance area, but so do not, so plan accordingly.
  • When entering the floor, make sure the performers, as well as the parents helping, understand the boundaries. Crossing the timeline before the T&P judge gives the signal may start your time before you’re ready to begin, putting your ensemble at a disadvantage.

In regards to getting on and off the floor, these bits of information might help you (I’ll be using Modulation Z as an example here, as I am a director there).

  • Before you go to your first show, and even shows after, practice getting on and off the floor. Practice for different timelines (horizontal and vertical), and different exists (back left, front left, etc.). Coming up on competition days, be sure your kids know what to expect and how to get on and off the floor to prevent any confusion and time delays.
  • Should you be using parental help to get on and off, be sure they know what to be aware of. For example, with Modulation Z, we put our parents through a bit of a boot-camp and train them on what they’re going to be moving during the season so they know where equipment goes and what they their responsibility is once they get their equipment to get set. Most of our parents are with us for the entire season so by the time championships rolls around, we’re a well-oiled machine.
  • We’ve found it is beneficial to have someone communicate with the T&P judge before you go on. It’s easier at the local shows as you’ll likely see the same people over and over, but for WGI, you may not see the same people, so it can be hard to jibjab with them. No matter, effective communication with the T&P judge is essential. Before you cross the timeline, they’ll likely give you intervals before you go on (30 seconds, 15 seconds, 10, 9…….2, 1, you’re on). Be sure that all performers are ready to move as soon as the signal is given.
  • As you setup, the boundaries are not in play, so feel free to set things wherever and cross lines when necessary. While setting up, you’ll want to make sure everything is clear of the boundary. This is especially important for the Front Ensemble, as have a wheel or leg of a cymbal stand be across the front boundary could be disastrous. Should a stick or mallet break and cross the front boundary, no harm no foul. Same with hardware that might fall on accident.
  • When leaving the floor, ensure that EVERYTHING is removed. Anything remaining in the performance area could result in a penalty. Items are considered removed when they have crossed the vertical or horizontal time line. However, things must continue moving, as delaying the next ensemble onto the floor can result in a penalty for your ensemble.
  • While exiting the floor, do not hound the T&P judge to be sure you’re off within time. Normally, the judge can give you a signal if the time is in question, but it’s recommended to not follow the T&P judge.

On a recent T&P call for WGI, there were some things that WGI wanted to reiterate to ensembles in regards to sounds:

  • Rule 4.2.2 of the WGI 2017 Percussion Rules states that:
    “No single, triggered, electronic sound may produce rhythmic intent. Lyrics with rhythmic intent may be triggered on a per word basis. Spoken word phrases without rhythmic intent may be performed with a single trigger”What this means is that if you have something that has rhythmic intent, each word must be triggered individually. If you have spoken word that provides no rhythmic intent (freeform), then it may use a single trigger. T&P judges are actively looking to ensure that this rule is enforced. T&P judges may discuss the matter with the ensemble after the performance and refer it to the board for review.
  • Rule 4.2.3 of the WGI 2017 Percussion Rules states that:
    “Ensembles may manipulate their soundboard by using a remote-controlled wireless device through a self-supplied wireless network. WGI will provide an area in or near the Effect & Visual judging area for one designated staff member to adjust the mix using wireless technology. The soundboard must remain in the competition area. All lighting must be controlled by a performer in the competition area.”You can wirelessly mix your sound from the stands, however this person cannot trigger anything from the stands. Anything that must be triggered must come from the floor and be done by a performer.
  • Rule 4.4 of the WGI 2017 Percussion Rules states that:“Props built and/or used, including drum major podiums, that measure over six feet (6’) high and are used in such a way that result in a participant whose feet are more than six feet (6’) above the competition area must have appropriate safety railings in place or protective padding around prop to prevent any injury. Participants are prohibited from jumping or leaping off any prop that exceeds six feet (6’) in height unless protective padding is in place or other adequate safety precautions are taken. If a prop is moved with a performer on that prop, a safety rail or harness must be utilized by the performer.”

    If you are using a student conductor on the floor and have a podium that is over six feet (6’), and the performer’s feet will be more than six feet (6’) off the floor, the podium should have railings. Effectively, be safe and smart with your props and equipment.

I know this is a long post, and I know that many of you have lots going on (as do us on the board), but I want to thank you for taking the time to read this little early-season diatribe. Should you have any questions about anything, please feel free to talk to me directly via e-mail, or if you see me at a show, stop me and say hi. If you’re new to the circuit or you’re a new instructor, I would love to be able to put a name to a face, as I’m sure the rest of the board would like to do so as well. Stay tuned for more e-mails throughout the season. Good luck to everyone!

In The Spirit of Music & Education,

Robert Gatewood
Percussion Education Coordinator, MCCGA