Winter Season Starts Today
With the winter season cut short, it’s time to get back to the drawing board and make decisions for next February. Most winter guards were in the home stretch when the final weekends of the WGI season were canceled due to state shutdowns. Although there may be an opportunity to repurpose costumes or floors and flags, the conceptual adjustments to most programs were complete with just a few weeks remaining to thoroughly clarify all the performance elements of the program.
Javier Sosa, director of color guards at Damonte Ranch HS (NV), said the end of the season was tough. “We allowed the teams to heal a bit after their season ended abruptly. Then I reached out to the members and asked them if they had accomplished everything they needed,” he said. Some students didn’t of course so we then discussed the importance of how we practice and how we approach the season,” said Sosa.
Even with the majority of the season complete, Sosa feels like there is plenty of reason to reuse the product. “If groups were not offered the chance to really use what they purchased this winter and want to use it again, why not. This is a great opportunity to force the design team to look for music that can fit what has been already purchased,” Sosa said.
However, many percussion and winds groups were just ramping up with several upcoming shows, costumes arriving but unworn and final changes left on the draft table.
Andrew Phillips, percussion director at Triton Central HS, Ind., has mixed feelings about recycling the program in 2021. “Creatively, I don’t think [the 2020 show] would give me the same fulfillment. I have definitely considered it as a way to save both time and money since so much uncertainty still looms for the next school year.” Some schools will have different personnel in their group. Triton Central doesn’t have that concern. “We will also bring back all of the same students but one senior so logistically it could work really well for us,” Phillips said.
Keeping the students motivated playing the same composition may also be challenging. With most units beginning music training in early December, repetition could be a concern. “Ultimately, I would have to consult the kids and see how they feel,” Phillips said.
As the winter activity evolves, so do show concepts and designs. What was successful competitively several seasons ago may not have the same impact next winter. The struggle to revamp and reuse ideas that some in the activity already saw, might feel outdated.
“I’m sure every group will approach next season in their own way. Groups will need to do so in a way that inspires members and staff, but also takes into account that there will be some financial burdens and hardships caused by this crisis,” said Andrew Markworth, composer, arranger and consultant for Shadow Lake Music and Front Ensemble Designer for Rhythm X.
Due to an equipment truck issue, Rhythm X took the floor in the WGI Chicago Regional prelims with a few cymbals and a bongo player. With their rendition of Crashy Bongo, the group already presented two different programs during the shortened 2020 season.
High school groups will have more difficulties in recycling programs. Markworth said, “Seniors graduate and new freshmen are coming in. The strengths and weaknesses that you may have built your show around are now different.”
All groups will be looking for ways to repurpose props and uniforms. This is an area where cost can be saved as many props and uniforms had very few public showings. Some units never performed in their competitive costume. Likewise, in a newly designed program, groups could rehash larger effect moments. Markworth said, “I can see a lot of people reusing big effect moments if they aren’t too show specific. It would be a shame to have some great ideas not come to fruition.”
If the group can’t find a way to reuse in the winter, a repurpose for the marching band season is also an option. Sosa said, “Damonte Ranch wore their costumes twice so we decided to look at the fall season and how we can find a show that would make sense using them.” He said, “It’s amazing that a band director can recognize the amount of money that was put into the winter season and is willing to pick a fall show around what was already invested.”
The winter of 2020 is just around the corner for composers and visual designers. With still much to be learned about the virus and concerns about additional shutdowns, considering the reuse of program elements will be a topic of most design conversations.