The Birth of WGI Wynds/STRYKE Wynds

I am an avid believer in the value of the marching arts. So, I was intrigued when I was told in 2015 that Winter Guard International (WGI) was going to start an indoor winds division called WGI Winds.

Marching arts indoors

In 1994 I saw “Brass Theatre” while attending a summer music camp. My mind was blown away! The performance was on a basketball court but the movement was like one on a football field. The performers were from a Drum Corps International (DCI) group called, “Star of Indiana“. The central performers were the well known quintet, The Canadian Brass. The music had the power of a drum corps mixed with subtleties made possible by being inside. The overall product was spellbinding.

When the performance ended I sat in my chair unable to move. After several moments I made my way down to the performance area to see what marks they were using on the floor in order to move without running into each other. I felt like a man who had entered a time machine and seen the future. I needed to know how to take this back to my “time”. It would be several years before I would even try.


The next step in the evolution of indoor winds was not a step… It was a light speed jump! In the early 2000’s I heard that there was a show called “Blast!” touring the country. It was being produced and performed by members of the now defunct drum corps “Star of Indiana”. If it was anything like “Brass Theater” it would be incredible.

The performance was no longer on a gym floor, it was on a stage. This provided opportunities for lighting, sound reinforcement, back drops, curtain effects. You could fly someone in from above the stage (which they did!)! Performers could be in front of the stage, in the audience, in the balcony. The marching arts were going three dimensional!

I took a group of band members to see the performance and we were stunned. Not only was I hooked, the students were now enthusiastically ready for staged, indoor marching arts.

Baby steps

We began adding one song with movement to our March concerts. We kept it simple. It was a learning process. No one was required to participate since we needed to rehearse after school. The overall product wasn’t exceptional but the audience resonated with the performances. This was obviously a medium that had an audience.

So, in 2015 when WGI said that Winds would be a new division, we weren’t exactly unaware of what could be done. I sat down with my assistant director/great friend, Will Smith and talked about forming a group. We hit the pros and cons. We liked the idea but weren’t sold that it was the right fit for our school.


South Florida has an indoor drumline named, “STRYKE” that has been competing for years with WGI. We had several members of our band perform with their unit. My students learned an enormous amount from being in their groups and the band had benefited from the skills they brought back to our band room.

Will and I were contacted by the executive director of STRYKE and asked if we would like to be the founding directors of a winds group. The group would be called STRYKE Wynds. This was a sobering offer. STRYKE had the working knowledge needed to make a WGI group work. But, we would need a place to rehearse and instruments. And, of course, staff and members.

After some back and forth, our school administration agreed to allow us to use the facilities and equipment on the weekends. We decided to accept STRYKE’s offer. Rehearsals began in the school cafeteria. In week one we had less than a dozen people and were gravely concerned that the entire endeavor would fail before it began. But, we were blessed with enough key performers as well as a top notch team of writers and educators. I watched these young professionals create something new and it was exciting. STRYKE Wynds finished that first year in 2nd place Independent Open class (IO) at the inaugural World Championships in Dayton, Ohio.

A future of excellence

I was blessed to continue as STRYKE Wynds director for two more years. During that time we won the IO class championships and then the silver medal in World Class. It was humbling to be along for the ride. I’m no longer affiliated with the group but they continue to push indoor winds to new levels of excellence and I’m glad to have been had a front row seat for the birth of a new activity in the marching arts. So….what’s next?

Inaugural STRYKE Wynds 2015 WIO Silver Medalists
STRYKE Wynds 2016 WIO Gold Medalists
STRYKE Wynds 2017 WIW Silver Medalists

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