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Creating A Group

Competitive indoor is an exciting branch of the pageantry arts with approximately 36,000 young people participating in groups in the United States, Canada, Japan, Thailand and Western Europe.

Many local organizations are developing and growing, most of which are governed by the groups themselves. These organizations, often called “circuits,” provide competitions many weekends from January through April. Involved with most circuits are adjudication associations, which provide judges for the competitions of the circuits. These judging associations may be separately governed or attached to the circuit as a separate branch of that circuit.

Responsibility of the circuit:

– Develop growth in the activity at the local level 

– Administer local competitions 

– Assure that the groups are properly adjudicated 

– Communicate information pertinent to the activity 

What is WGI? 

WGI was founded in 1977 to draw together the growing winter color guard activity, standardize rules, and provide leadership and guidance. WGI is now an international organization that offers:

– Standardized judging criteria within the activity

– Improved communication 

– Cooperation with local circuit organizations 

– Divisions for color guard, percussion and winds participants

– An education program offering clinics and printed & video materials regarding the color guard and indoor percussion activities

– A network of Regional contests in the U.S., Canada and Europe culminating in an annual International Championship in April.

All WGI events provide two divisions of competition specifically for:

– Scholastic – ensembles whose membership comes from the same high school (or a school that feeds in to that particular high school) or ensembles whose membership comes from multiple schools approved to combine resources by the principal.

– Independent – ensembles whose members are not necessarily associated with a particular school.

The groups are then further divided into classes:

• Regional A Class – Novice programs and performers (color guard only)

• A Class – Beginning programs and performers.

• Open Class – The intermediate developmental level of performers.

• World Class – The most advanced programs and performers.

• Concert Class – A Class, Open Class & World Class (Percussion only)

WGI provides many services for those interested in the activity. Here are just a few: 

• “FOCUS” (WGI’s magazine) 

• Regional Contests 

• World Championships Percussion Souvenirs 

• Judging Manuals 

• Support Literature 

• Public Relations Support 

• Rulebooks 

• Associate memberships

• Yearbooks

• Judges training

Exploring the Possibility of an Indoor Group

Directors confront many questions when considering the expansion of an existing program to include an indoor group. 

– What is an indoor percussion ensemble? 

– What kind of time is involved? 

– How will the students benefit? 

– What are the rules and guidelines? 

– Where can I find the rules and guidelines? 

An indoor program is not only educationally sound, it can have a dramatic and positive influence on the total marching band program if it is a part of a scholastic group.

In a school situation, the indoor group is a co-curricular or extra curricular activity, which offers participation to both boys and girls. Usually its purpose is similar to that of a sports team:

– To strive for excellence 

– To develop teamwork 

– To learn sportsmanship 

– To achieve the highest possible ranking in your competitive circle 

– To interact with peers from other communities 

– To entertain 

Very few co-curricular activities offer students an experience which challenges and stimulates growth on so many levels: 

– Multi-physical 

– Mental 

– Social 

– Time Management 

– Artistic Perception 

– Creative Expression 

– Aesthetic Valuing 

– Team Work WGI Percussion 

– Group Cooperation

Socially, members learn to function in a group situation setting common goals, cooperating, and striving for success as a team.

The many outlets for performances available to a group, besides contests, include the regular school activity schedule of rallies, basketball half-times, community showcases, or assemblies for special events which will show the activity to the school community. Other students will become more interested in the program; faculty members are always impressed, and the audiences (parents and students alike) enjoy the show for its entertainment value. Within the community there are always organizations looking for varied forms of entertainment and where space is adequate, the indoor show can win tremendous support for the overall band program.

Competition as a Basis to Measure and Appreciate Excellence

Competition in and of itself generates a divided position on the part of many educators who fear a misplaced focus on winning at any cost. Because WGI is based on education, that subject has had careful study and ongoing scrutiny. Competition in this arena is the means whereby we teach the following:

– Recognition and appreciation of the achievements of your competitors 

– A barometer whereby you me assure achievement against a set of standards 

– A means to recognize your own potential by achieving more than you thought you could 

– Putting competition in a light of discovery and growth rather than winning as a priority 

Competition exists in today’s world in every walk of life. To prepare our youth with techniques that will keep this aspect in a healthy focus while discovering and enjoying their own excellence may be our greatest gift to them.

When investigating competitions, look for other schools in the area that are already competing; identify their officers who can acquaint you with the rules, show procedures, and schedules of contests and related events. If there are no visible organizations, you may contact the WGI office for information regarding your nearest circuit and who to contact. 

Within the abundant opportunities for growth, artistic and physical expression, leadership, and self- discipline for your members, the director/advisor also finds the satisfying reward of seeing youngsters realize their potential in such an exciting and positive manner. 

Steps to Starting a Group

This challenging project will prove to be a very rewarding experience to the membership, staff, and the management. Many groups are part of a larger organization or are self-supporting. When starting a competitive ensemble you should consider the following aspects: 

Structure of the Organization

If you are part of a larger organization, the structure will already be in place. Determine the role of the group within the larger framework. Understand the reporting relationships, job descriptions, goals of the group relative to the parent body, etc. Chances are that legal considerations may already be in place because of the parent body. 

If you are starting a new organization, your structure and foundation is of utmost importance. You will need to form a management structure taking into consideration the following: 

– Constitution/By Laws/Officers 

– Philosophy 

– Non-Profit Status 501(c)3 

– Tax-Exempt Status 

– Leadership/Reporting Relationships 

– Job Descriptions 

– Meetings 

– Boosters 

– Budget/Financial System/Insurance 

– Goals (long and short term) 


Instruction will be needed to address the selection of music, program design, instrumentation, equipment, technique, teaching and perfecting the product, etc. These duties may be done by a single individual or several, depending on the resources available and your needs. In some instances the management and instructor may be the same individual. If you are a scholastic ensemble, don’t overlook the possible talent from your music faculty.


In order to compete using WGI rules, you will want to check the ELIGIBILITY section of the specific divisions contest rules. International groups are not bound by any age. Groups competing as Scholastic groups must have all members approved for participation by the principal of the sponsoring school.


If a local circuit/association is already established in your general area, contact them for information on membership, dues, obligations, judging clinics, rules, etc. Most established circuits have a level of competition for the new/inexperienced groups. If a circuit is not available in your general area, contact the WGI office and we will try to help get something started or direct you to the closest circuit available.


The organization will need a mode of transportation to contests; consider buses, vans, or individual cars. Funds and length of trips may determine what you wish to use.


Obviously, you will need the appropriate equipment. This will vary based on the division. Some groups even involve special props, which are an option, and these are almost always designed and/or made by the group.

Rehearsal Facilities

Indoor facilities will be needed with a minimum floor space of 50’ X 90’.


From time to time you will need housing for camps or overnight trips. You will want to check into gyms, hotels, private homes, rec centers, etc.

Finances and Budgets

This will depend on how ambitious you wish to be. All of the above considerations involve cost and will have to be considered in light of your organization and structure. Since the contest situation does not offer money in a prize structure, fund raising becomes an important part of your program. There are tons of websites that offer unique ideas for fundraisers!

Rules and Regulations

Study the rules and score sheets and philosophy of programming carefully. The staff members should understand them so they know what is expected of them, and so they can start out with the greatest opportunity for success. Rules, score sheets, and adjudication manuals can be purchased from the WGI office.

To explore more, see Creating a Competitive Winter Guard or Creating an Indoor Percussion Ensemble.