Around 1980 a percussion teacher named Ward Durrett had an idea about keeping high school drummers busy and engaged during their off-season. He started an indoor drum line festival in Illinois in which groups would perform on an auditorium stage. Durrett and Fred Sanford brought the idea to the Percussive Arts Society, which initiated its first-ever Marching Percussion Festival at PASIC 1982 in Dallas, Texas. I was a judge at that event.
Several circuits sprang up, which led to WGI creating a percussion division in 1993. The rest, as they say, is history! Today, an estimated 1,700 groups participate in indoor drum line events in 40 to 45 local circuits. Approximately 180 of these groups attend WGI Championships each year.
In the marching classes, there are three judges, each having two sub-captions on his/her score sheet.
The Performance Analysis judge evaluates Composition (musical and technical content, simultaneous responsibility and clarity of intent) and Performance Quality (musicianship, rhythmic clarity, technique and ensemble cohesiveness).
The General Effect judge evaluates whether all of the elements in a unit’s presentation combine to display an effective and entertaining program. He/she judges Music Effect (communication, musicianship, creativity, balance and blend, virtuosity, expression and idiomatic interpretation) and Overall Effect (communication, audiovisual coordination, imagination/creativity, pacing/continuity, impacts/resolutions, range of effects and entertainment).
The Visual judge credits the visual design, the reflection of the music and the performance of the ensemble. He/she judges Composition (orchestration, visual musicality, clarity of intent, staging, creativity, attention to detail, unity and simultaneous responsibility) and Performance Quality (ensemble control, accuracy, recovery, uniformity, articulation of body/equipment, style/roles and presence).
I’m proud to have been one of the architects of this judging system and to have recently updated my concepts for a new indoor circuit being run by the US Scholastic Band Association.