There is nothing better than this
Yo! Enjoy reading about indoor drumline and why it’s the best.
Few things we will cover with this:
You can google WGI and indoor percussion/drumline and read all about it, so I will not whip you down with all the textbook explanations of this activity.
I will tell you from my point of view what it is. Indoor drumming is an activity that will start for you as early as April in terms of planning your show - at the latest you will start in September. You’ll have auditions in October/early November to set your group and you’ll start rehearsing right when marching band is done. You will rehearse November - April, having contests on Saturdays in February, March and April. Some will do up to 6-8 contests and others will do 3-4.
The show - again you can find this information on the WGI website in terms of the length of your show, what level of skills the judges will be looking for - but what you are doing is very similar to marching band, just better. You get to plan a show on a smaller stage which means you have more options for effect - there are show concepts and ideas that could only work indoors and most marching band concepts would be better indoors. It’s super fun to bring an idea to a small scale stage like we get in WGI - makes it more cost effective to create an effect than outside would cost.
Something that I love about the indoor show process is that I am the one getting to make the final decisions on the show. When we do marching band, there are 8-9 of us that all have opinions and I am not the last stop for that by any means. For Indoor, we use around 4-5 people to plan a show and I get the final say in what we do. It’s a good feeling to be in complete control of that part of the process.
I love how indoor drumline can be a great tool to year long drumming/cleaning/high-standards processes/working towards a common goal/etc. You basically are getting a second marching band season - another thing that is great about this is that your marching members are getting two seasons a year. So if they are marching in the marching band and the indoor group as a freshman, they will look and move like a junior the next fall - 100% indoor has made young people better marchers.
It is another great creative outlet for young people (and teachers) to be involved with. Another thing that is nice is we are able to bring some good band people into our group as visual ensemble members/cymbal line members/synth players/ guitar players/ etc. - Even though the indoor drumline experience is geared towards the percussionists, it is a great way to get others involved as well.
There are people who think that it will detract from their classical percussion studios/UIL/Solo and Ensemble/ etc.
It will. It 100% will detract from your other things…but there is a catch…If you, as the director, let it.
I have been on both sides of this and I see it clearly now. There were years when we were solely focused on indoor and everything else slipped. It was my fault. I am not the one who has to practice and prepare the other music - the young people are the ones who have to practice. All I have to do is show them what is important and if they trust me as their teacher, they will eventually put importance in all the right places.
We have started doing a chamber music festival and the first year we did the festival we were also working on indoor at the same time. I put zero emphasis on the chamber music and no one prepared well, not even our best people. The following year we started talking about chamber early on and heard pass-offs in class more frequently and SURPRISE! Everything went much much better. They cared about it so much because I showed them it was important.
What was super cool was the fact that the indoor program 100% enhanced how they performed and prepared the chamber music. It also has brought so much more musicality to the program overall. The way they perform is at a much higher level than before indoor because performance is on the indoor sheet and it is expected at a high level.
Reasons for not doing Indoor - (the legit reasons)
Both of these are the only reasons for not doing indoor and they are great reasons.
At Fossil Ridge we have moved to doing indoor part time (aka every other year)
On the years we do indoor, our young people and their families spend about $600-$700 more during the course of the year than on off years.
This will be crazy to see - but I calculated all the time we spent outside of the regular school day for indoor and we spent 142 hours on indoor from November - April
142 hours is almost 6 days.
You can look at this two ways:
Neither way is the wrong way of looking at it, but I will tell you this: If you are going to put in the time, you need to be all there and be all about it.
You will hate yourself if you only give half your attention to this (or half your attention to anything that a lot of people are involved in) - When you are at rehearsal, be all there bro. I guess that goes for anything, but I think I feel this more for myself in indoor than in marching band since I am the one in truly in charge of it. In marching band, it is easy to mentally slip away for a moment and come back without too much drama created - in indoor, at the pace we choose to work at, it is much more difficult.
In terms of funds. You can do this for cheap - I will show you how below.
Floor - ask someone to borrow one they aren’t using and it’s free (you can design your show going off of what floor you get)
Uniforms - have everyone wear all black - or just some sort of matching color attire. Something you can also design a show around and keep the costs super minimal.
Instruments - Use what you already have.
Drill/Music - Buy a show that is already written with pre-packaged drill. Find someone who is just getting started and use them for music or staging.
Travel - You can have your students meet at the contests, you don’t have to get a bus. Work out a ride share and make sure it is cleared though the school district/admin
Gear - Have the drummers take their drums to the contests - rent a uhaul for pit equipment.
Props - don’t use them
Entry fees - You will have to pay these
Staff - use as little as possible - stagger rehearsals so you only have to focus on a section or two at a time. i.e. - Monday rehearsal is only snares and marimbas - everyone needs to rehearse in subs. Student leadership is important for this method.
Copyright - Use old people music. It’s still cool.
So with all this. You are basically asking your group to pay for the cost of renting a uhaul and entry fees for contests. Which on the high side would be $450 for entry fees ($400 more if you add WGI circuit shows) and to rent a Uhaul for a max of 6 shows would roughly cost about $1200 (high side estimate…always estimate on the high side) and the price of the show/drill itself we will say $1200 for that.
Total budget of around:
If you had 10 people in the group (doing only local circuit shows): $285 per person
If you had 20 people in the group (doing only local circuit shows): $142.50 per person
If you had 30 people in the group (doing only local circuit shows): $95 per person
A few things you may be saying to yourself:
“no way we could get music and drill for that price” - that is incorrect, you can.
“ We don’t have 30 percussionists” - doesn’t matter, if you are trying to keep those fees low - get anyone you can to be in the group and figure out something for them to do.
TL;DR - It is possible to do this for under $100 a person
Regular budget for doing a new A class show
Floor - $1300 (w/shipping)
Uniforms -$95 per student (custom uniforms, but basic design)
Instruments - Use what you already have.
Drill/Music - Music arranging $1500-$4000, Drill/staging $1800-$4000
Travel - If using a school bus, basically around $200 per contest - $1200 for 6 contests
Gear - Uhauls or trailers for the season - $1200-$1600
Props - don’t use them, but if you do don’t spend more than $500
Entry fees - You will have to pay these - $450/$300 if you want to do multiple circuits
Staff - $500-$6000 - this is where I put as much money as possible and try to cut from other things
Copyright - Use old people music. It’s still cool, it’s free - Maybe use 1 or 2 new tunes ($250-$700)
So with all this….its around $9200 - $19650 (before uniforms)
Total budget of around with the $95 uniform fee
If you had 10 people in the group (only local circuit shows): $1015 - $2060 per person
If you had 20 people in the group (only local circuit shows): $555 - $1077.50per person
If you had 30 people in the group (doing only local circuit shows): $401 - $750 per person
Important notes on this:
These are estimates homies. They are pretty good estimates, but remember you can cut and take away things you don’t need. I will give you the hint that if you have a choice between spending $1300 on a floor or using the $1300 to add two staff members for the season - the two staff members will give you way more points than a floor will.
As you can imagine - when you go to Open and World class - the prices will raise. My recommendation is to start in A class, spend less, do less and get your parents/students excited about it and then slowly raise the fee over time.
TL;DR - It is expensive to be competitive
I am on a bus on the way to a band contest right now so I am operating straight from brain. I think it is worth writing about things I did wrong the first couple of years that will save you time and energy in your first year of indoor.
We did not mark the floor when we folded it so we knew how to pull it out at contest correctly. Now we put an arrow with the direction the floor should be pulled out at contests. This crow changes week to week depending on the timing line (whether it is horizontal or vertical) This mistake led to pulling out the floor, realizing it was upside-down, and then having to spin it all around in the gym and look like silly people. This happened to us a few times…
We did not spend enough time practicing setting up and tearing down within the time frame. We didn’t give people jobs and it was kind of a mad house. The timing is shorter and can feel more frantic than marching band. It is well worth spending 30-45min on this and getting jobs solidified to ease the minds of the young people during the set-up process
Read the sheets (that the judges score off of) and know what is on them. It is not just your normal drumline show. 4 main captions of Music, Visual, Effect-Music, and Effect-Visual. I did not take the time to really worry about what was on these, but when I did we saw our scores improve right away.
Also, along with the judges sheets. They have critique after each show where you can go and talk to each of the judges about their tapes. The point of this is that you listen to the tapes after you perform and if you have questions about what a judge said you can ask them to clarify them in person. Critique is not for you to go in and ask the judge “hey why did ____ group beat us?” “how come you didn’t say anything about this part” etc. It’s a place to gain clarity in the comments, not to ask questions of how to do your show or what to change. I did not approach it that way for the first few years and really once I started judging and went through the wgi training online is when I truly understood the point behind critique.
Don’t underestimate how much body you should/could do. Whether in A, Open, or World - you should try to get your guard person or a choreographer to help you with body for the show. You’ll get points for it if it is good!
Planning rehearsals around the Basketball team. We use the middle and intermediate schools to rehearse the battery most of the time because we have no conflicts there. If we need to put the full group together then we make sure we let the young people know we will be starting rehearsal at 7pm (when basketball is done) and will go until about 9pm. This doesn’t happen all the time - In January and February we have the most conflicts with Basketball, then it goes away.
Planning show dates - pick them way in advance, avoid spring break if possible, try to put off weeks in between your shows. Sign up asap as possible and get registered asap as possible.
I think this is enough information to get you started. This is mostly geared towards people thinking about starting an indoor group, but I would be happy for others to add things I missed on this. We have only been doing indoor for about 7 years, so we are still pretty new to the scene.
Holla and go band!
- Ben Moore