MUKILTEO, Wash., May 28, 2023—In late April, Kamiak Winter Percussion went to Dayton, Ohio to compete in the WGI World Championships for the first time ever, making it to finals and securing 8th place.
Celebrating their 15th anniversary this year, Kamiak Winter Percussion had been practicing relentlessly for their competitions, with over 200 hours of rehearsals over the course of four and a half months.
In order to get to the Worlds competition in Ohio, volunteers loaded the equipment on April 15th and drove 2400 miles across the country. Students flew into Cincinnati on April 19th, meeting the volunteers and spending the night rehearsing. The students would then perform for the following three days, then finally return home on April 26th
Due to Kamiak High School’s location in the Pacific Northwest, traveling to competitions has been both tedious and expensive. A typical ‘local’ competition could last anywhere from 20-22 hours, making logistics their biggest challenge this year.
“Because of the unique logistics challenges — loading, unloading, putting props and instruments together, maintaining their uniforms and equipment, managing their rehearsal time, balancing homework and work — it becomes essential that everyone learns how to plan, manage their time, and understand their role in the ensemble,” said Nick Bensons, the Kamiak Winter Percussion Coach. “We also focus heavily on teaching life skills, such as time management, teamwork, personal accountability, [and] communication, through the vehicle of music and movement.”
The added challenge of travel creates a nightmare that cuts into rehearsal and preparation time, meaning other schools can have 4-5 more rehearsals than they are.
“[But it] makes it even more amazing that we are able to compete at the highest levels of the activity,” said Bensons.
Kamiak Winter Percussion also competed in the NWAPA Circuit in their first home show on March 5th, along with the Kamiak Color Guard. Throughout their season, they would take 2nd place at the WGI Portland Regional on March 25th, and secure their 6th Gold Medal at Sherwood High School down in Oregon with a score of 89.75.
“The amount of individual growth and maturity in a season is immense,” shared Bensons. “It’s amazing to see everyone come together, support each other’s efforts, and continue to strive toward a unifying goal is incredible to witness. […] They become a second family to each other. ”
With 35 students this year, all with ranging levels of maturity and experience, have undergone intense rehearsal schedules, “but that’s what it takes to get the experience and comfort level of the performance at the HIGHEST levels of the activity,” said Bensons. “We want to remain competitive and relevant on a national stage, teach/train our students to be the best that they can be, both as performers and people, and continue to provide the students with an activity that is rewarding, fulfilling, and a place they can call home for their tenure at Kamiak.”
Videos and more information can be found on their website: https://www.kamiakshowband.com/2022-23-kwp-feeltherain.