After observing years of success and growth in its percussion and winter guard divisions, Winter Guard International took a step into the unknown in 2015 with the creation of WGI Winds.
The man tapped to tackle the challenge of orchestrating an entirely new competitive category was former Centerville High School Director of Bands and current WGI Winds Director Wayne Markworth.
“The winds division was created to give wind players the same opportunities that the performers in winter guard and percussion have had,” Markworth mused while reflecting on the decision to create the new winds category. “Those two divisions have been successful for many years and the sheer number of participating groups and members shows how important it is to them.”
The move to create a winds division wasn’t a blind one. A survey showed Markworth and his team that 20 percent of the members in WGI winter guards and percussion groups were actually wind players, providing further validation through data that WGI Winds had the potential to be successful.
“[Wind players] now have the opportunity to enjoy the participation and excitement while performing on their primary instrument,” explained Markworth.
The endeavor wasn’t without its challenges. In addition to wading through a potential logistical nightmare with the addition of new venues and days of competition to WGI Championships, Markworth and his team had to create a whole new set of rules and regulations.
In the end, fans and performers were treated to an exciting new outlet for the activity – one that provides a unique appeal to smaller programs.
Dave Marvin of Northglenn Performance Theatre echoed this sentiment in a recent WGI video.
“There are so many avenues that [WGI Winds] will reach,” observed Marvin. “It will take the small bands like our band with 60 kids that we can really give that experience to everyone.”
Markworth agreed with Marvin and added that large band programs will also benefit from the new performance medium.
“I think WGI Winds will benefit any school group if it is approached from a music educational point of view,” Markworth explains. “Students are getting more instruction and time on their instruments in an extra-curricular activity and that will only improve the entire band program. We saw groups from small school band programs and also some large ones. Perhaps it will benefit the smaller programs more because the intimate indoor venue is so much friendlier to a small group than performing outdoors where the sound dissipates so quickly. They have a much greater opportunity indoors to really connect with the audience.”
All in all, Markworth said the new circuit was everything he hoped it would be.
“The inaugural year of WGI Winds was absolutely fantastic and met all of our expectations,” Markworth reflected. “I think the division is going to grow by leaps and bounds.”
What did you think of the inaugural season of WGI Winds? Let us know if the comments section below.