Performing. Werking it. Getting it. There’s really no instructional manual to being a great WGI Percussion performer, besides constantly being reminded to point your pretty little face at the top row of the bleachers and stretching your body until your harness won’t come off your shoulders unless it’s pried with a crowbar.
See, to get to the next level, you have to admit something to yourself. You have to acknowledge that since the time you first heard an MP3 snippet of the show music or played your first opener diddles or marched the first page of drill that this season’s show imprinted on you. Whether you like it or not, a show becomes more than just something you’ve done and more part of who you are.
This isn’t guard, forever obsessing over 5 minutes of recorded music. You create the music. And now the music is going to create you. You have to let it.
It can start with something as simple and pedestrian as a head bob. There’s a pulse to what you and everyone around you plays, ideas strung together by measurable time. So you bob your head, slowly, not too deliberately. It gets you feeling in it.
You start reacting to your own accents. Not even on purpose. Your nose scrunches up. You grit your teeth. Crash choke, it hurts, your eyes narrow like lasers against the gym wall and you have this scowl twisted in your lips.
You’re running a lot, even as you play. Visual phrases contract and swell. Running makes your heart beat faster, makes you work harder even as you get lighter on your feet. You’re weightless, flying around the floor. Head still bobbing, maybe, but there’s a smile on your face now.
Not the forced kind someone told you to have. It’s your own smile. The kind you make right before you laugh out loud. It’s so genuine, full of joy. And you’re running across the floor and locking eyes with someone in the crowd; for 12 counts, you have a conversation from thirty feet away and don’t speak a word.
The entire battery comes together in a block, makes a statement. The big loud part. You are full of bravado, full of sass. You say, “Look what I can do, I’m killing it!” with your eyes and your chin. Lift your head and your mouth opens and closes in this weird sort of grimace as you hit plus one and freeze at the end of the opener.
Your face softens as the keyboards tinkle out the beginning of the ballad. And maybe you sigh softly, close your eyes, catch your breath. Whatever the pit plays alone is beautiful, pensive. It moves the story along.
What story? Maybe your show is designed to have a storyline. Where you’re supposed to know what’s going on. Not always. Usually with percussion shows you have to make up your own story, starring you, the main character. Your life is escalating and twisting and dying and resurrecting, all in the span of six and a half minutes. And yes, it’s all about you, whether you want it to be or not.
Telling your story without a word leaving your lips, that’s what performing means here.