March 11th, 2020 to me, felt a lot September 11th. Thousands of people didn’t die in one fell swoop, but it was when Coronavirus shifted from concern to cancellation. What once seemed far away was at our doorstep. A grim reaper coming that would rack up a worldwide death toll two orders of magnitude greater than September 11th.

As trivial as it sounds, WGI was cancelled on March 11th. With units traveling to Ohio from several countries (including Japan) and all over the US, it made sense to cancel it. Should we all be sitting in close quarters in a poorly ventilated arena? Probably not. Sites like is it canceled yet? had been tracking canceled events, and this was just another notch on the bedpost.

Maybe I could still enjoy some local live music? I had tickets for the orchestra that Friday, March 13th. It was to be canceled too, but not entirely. The orchestra would play – without a hall audience, and they would broadcast it on Minnesota Public Radio. The repertoire? Shostakovich’s 7th – The Leningrad Symphony.

I tuned into the broadcast and sat in darkness to soak in the sounds. You can listen to the historic live broadcast on the MPR site.

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While I proclaimed myself to be the 40 year-old WGI virgin, I’m really not new to the whole scene. I’ve been a member of several marching organizations, both winter and summer, since 1991. I’ve also had the privilege of working on the instructional staff of a few groups. One thing a new instructor can do correctly out-of-the-gate is being prepared. Here is what is in my bag that I bring to every rehearsal. There are some extras that you can include for summer drum corps & marching band as well.

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A friend I met while living in Las Vegas would say something is “Life Changing” when it’s better than good. It’s the best thing you’ve ever experienced in that realm. So much that it would cause you to mend your life, and alter your ways.

It can apply to anything. Caribou Coffee’s hot chocolate is good, but you can get life-changing hot chocolate at Angelina’s in Paris near the Louvre.

Since the 2017 WGI season is kicking off, it’s fitting I share a story about a drumline show that for me was life changing. It all coincides with my first trip to WGI. I’ve loved winter guard and winter drumline since I first saw them both in 1993. But strangely, my first pilgrimage to Dayton for WGI finals was in 2016 for percussion and winds finals.

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