Frequently Asked Questions
The indoor percussion activity can be difficult to understand at times—and becoming a member of Gateway is a huge commitment—so we want to help answer any questions you may have. Below you will find answers to some of the most common questions people ask us. This FAQ page covers the following topics: general information, personnel, auditions, being a member, financial costs, rehearsals, and performances.
If you have a question that is not answered below, please contact us and we will be glad to provide some help.
What is Gateway Percussion?
Gateway Percussion, often referred to as “Gateway,” is an independent percussion group based in St. Louis, Missouri. We pride ourselves in the education and growth of our members throughout the course of the seasons they spend with us. There are many members who "age out" to become alumni and pass on the skills and knowledge they've gained to local and regional school music departments.
Our mission aims to provide an amazing member experience by bringing to life an inspiring, unforgettable production.
Gateway Percussion is a registered 501(c)(3) organization which competes in the Winter Guard International (WGI) and Mid Continent Color Guard Association (MCCGA) circuits in the Percussion Independent World classification.
When was Gateway formed?
Gateway was founded in 2004, and has been competing in Percussion Independent World classification since 2005.
How competitive is Gateway?
Gateway competes in the Percussion Independent World class of WGI and MCCGA against other groups in the same class. Most of the other competitors are based in locations throughout the United States, but there are some international groups as well. We expect every member to put his or her personal commitment to the ensemble very near the top of his or her priorities; this commitment is one of the main ingredients for the group’s overall competitive success throughout a season.
What school are you affiliated with?
Gateway Percussion is an independent organization, and is not affiliated with any school. We are funded mostly by membership fees, along with fundraisers, donations, and sometimes grants.
Are all Gateway members from St. Louis?
No, members are from all over the surrounding areas (Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Indiana, etc.)—which is one reason that makes the membership experience so unique. If members are traveling long distances to attend rehearsals, driving and carpooling is the most common form of transportation. Although, some members fly or take the train to attend rehearsals and performances.
Who can be a member of Gateway?
Anyone not older than 22 years of age as of March 31st of any given year is eligible to be a member of Gateway. However, being offered a contract to be with the group is not only dependent on age, but also on your levels of achievement, attitude, and accountability. Gateway does not discriminate based on gender, religion, race, sexuality, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
Why can’t I be older than 22 to be a member?
In order for Gateway (or any U.S. percussion independent group) to compete in the Winter Guard International (WGI) or Mid Continent Color Guard Association (MCCGA) circuit, every performing member must be no older than 22. This rule is often referred to as the “age-out” rule.
Who is on staff?
Gateway has three teams of staff: the operations team, the design team, and the education team. The operations team manages the group’s finances, logistics, scheduling, marketing, communications, etc. The design team works together to conceptualize, write, and develop the group’s musical/visual production for the season. The education team are instructors, consultants, choreographers, technicians, role models, and leaders who work closely with the members to help them maximize their competitive, musical, athletic, health, and personal success.
When are auditions? Where are they held?
Auditions to become a member are traditionally held in October in the year before the competitive season. Usually there are at least two audition dates held in the St. Louis, MO area to accommodate different prospective members’ schedules.
The specific information on audition dates, times, and locations will be announced about a month or two before taking place. We will make these announcements on our website (gatewayindoor.org), our Facebook page (facebook.com/GatewayPercussion), and our Twitter page (@Gateway_Perc).
How should I prepare for auditions? What is the staff looking for in a prospective member?
More than any physical skill, staff members are looking for great attitudes in auditionees. Someone with the right attitude to make a commitment and contribute to Gateway Percussion in a very positive manner is likely to find a home here.
On the date or shortly after we announce the audition dates, we will make our audition packets available on our website, which includes detailed descriptions of the instrument technique (i.e. snare technique, keyboard technique, etc.), as well as music you should prepare to play at the auditions (i.e. warm-ups, exercises, etudes, etc.).
If you would like more information regarding information on auditions, please email us at email@example.com and we’ll help answer any questions.
How many open positions will there be for Gateway’s 2017 season?
While due consideration is given to returning members, all spots in the ensemble are open at the beginning of the audition process. In other words, veteran members are not automatically guaranteed a spot at Gateway.
Gateway Percussion has generally offered contracts for: 7-9 snares, 3-5 tenors, 5 basses, 4-6 cymbals, 9-10 mallet keyboard players, 1 electric guitar, 1 bass guitar, 1-2 drumsets, 1-3 auxiliary percussionists, and 1-3 synthesizers. This is the general instrumentation for the group, and often changes slightly from year to year.
I don’t think I have enough experience to be offered a spot. What do I do?
Come to auditions anyways! You will learn an invaluable amount of information about marching percussion and being a better musician, regardless if you’re offered a contract. The audition process is fun and very educational. You will meet new people and make new friends.
Attending auditions gives you a very good idea on what you would need to improve to join the ensemble, either for the upcoming season or for future seasons. Every year, some people come to auditions not confident in their ability to be offered a spot and end up performing with the group at WGI Championships half a year later.
If you’re nervous about auditions, you’re normal. Give it a shot. What do you have to lose? Whether you’re offered a contract or not, you won’t regret attending.
Being a Member
What kind of time commitment is necessary to be a member of Gateway?
Being a member of Gateway comes with a very strong time commitment to the group. Rehearsal camps are usually held on multiple weekends in November and December after auditions, and every weekend (Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) from January until the middle of April, ending after the conclusion of WGI Championships in Dayton, Ohio. There is also a week long rehearsal camp held shortly after Christmas/New Years, while students are still on Winter break.
Not only is each member expected to attend every camp possible and every performance, but every member should be able to commit free time during the week in between rehearsal weekends in order to come to rehearsal mentally and physically prepared.
Is it possible to be a member of Gateway and attend school/college?
Nearly every performing member of Gateway is a full-time college student, and some of our members are students in high school. Participating in Gateway will teach a member how to balance his or her life so he or she is successful in both school and Gateway. This balance is a strong value we like to teach our members, as it is something a member will implement in life after becoming a Gateway alumnus.
Is it possible to be in my school’s marching band and/or indoor drumline and still be a member of Gateway?
Many of our members are affiliated with their school’s marching band and can make time for both schedules to work, simply because marching band seasons end before the intensive Gateway season begins. However, although few members have been involved with their high school’s indoor drumline and Gateway at the same time, it is highly discouraged due to scheduling conflicts, which can be very detrimental to not only the groups’ success, but also the individual’s.
Is it possible to be a member of Gateway and a member of a drum corps?
Yes—and it’s quite common, too. Approximately half of Gateway’s members every year are involved with a certain drum corps. A strong level of communication between the member and his or her staff at Gateway and the drum corps is essential to make this work. A member’s drum corps he or she is involved with should be very well informed about Gateway rehearsals and performances. Similarly, Gateway should be very well-informed, well in advance, about drum corps rehearsal camps a member must attend.
Is it possible to do Gateway and have a job?
Yes, as long as a work schedule does not interfere with Gateway’s rehearsal and performance schedule. Although Gateway will try to accommodate a member’s school scheduling conflict (e.g. percussion recital held the day of a rehearsal), Gateway does not consider a work scheduling conflict a valid excuse to miss a Gateway rehearsal and/or a performance.
How much does it cost to be a member of Gateway?
Member fees for Gateway vary slightly from year to year, but generally the fee is approximately $250-300 a month from December until the end of the season, which totals to be $1,100-$1,200 for the whole season. In addition, members who are able to pay the lump sum of their tuition by December are typically given an approximate 10% discount.
Almost all members of Gateway are in college and must balance finances between the two. In addition to school, many members also have jobs they work at during the week. We value financial responsibility in our members during their time with us, but also after, as they carry these mature and healthy traits into their future.
How can I afford it?
Aside from working a job, there are other ways for one to acquire the funds to become a member, such as endorsements from family, friends, associates, organizations, etc. Some schools also offer scholarships to students to participate in extracurricular music organizations.
When are rehearsals?
After the audition process ends (typically sometime in November), rehearsals are held multiple weekends during December, and every weekend after the new year, from January until the conclusion of WGI Championships in Dayton, Ohio; this year, WGI Championships are held on April 20-22nd, 2017.
Our website will host a list of the rehearsal dates for the season, posted shortly after the audition process. In addition, members are given a detailed paper schedule for the season, and are contacted regularly about rehearsal times, locations, and updates through internet and mobile communications, such as email, a Facebook group, and mass text messages sent to members’ cell phones.
What are Gateway rehearsals like?
A typical rehearsal weekend begins around 7:00 or 8:00 PM on Fridays, and lasts until Sunday afternoon, usually until 3:00 PM. The atmosphere in rehearsal is very goal-oriented and focused on achieving excellence in performance, musicianship, and athleticism. We give plenty of breaks to our members to support the members’ health, something we care very strongly about. Members leave a rehearsal weekend feeling fulfilled, engaged, and eager to return the following weekend.
Where are rehearsals located?
Rehearsals during standard rehearsal weekends are held at various schools in the St. Louis area. Similarly, on weekends in which the group travels to a competition, we will rehearse at a school near the competition site.
How do I get to rehearsal?
Members typically carpool with other members in their area. Sometimes, members will pick up another member if he or she lives along their route. Members have also taken buses, trains, and planes to rehearsal. We make sure our members have a ride from the train/bus station or airport to the rehearsal site.
Where do members sleep during the weekend?
Nearly every rehearsal weekend members will have housing with another members’ family, or sometimes a school we rehearse at will allow members to sleep there, if they have no other form of housing. Very rarely do members have to spend extra money to sleep in a motel/hotel for the weekend. Gateway will do everything we can to ensure every member has adequate and appropriate housing for the weekend.
What do we eat during the weekend?
Gateway will occasionally provide a meal for the entire group, but in most cases, members are responsible for their meals. Gateway encourages members to choose to eat healthy, as we strongly care about the health of our members. A health professional will attend some rehearsals to educate our members about improving their health, and give them advice on how and what to eat during a rehearsal weekend.
How many competitions or performances does Gateway have in a season?
Gateway traditionally begins performances of their production in February. We typically compete in two MCCGA shows in the St. Louis area, two WGI regionals in the Midwest and surrounding areas, at MCCGA Championships, and WGI Championships. Also, we often host a St. Louis community “send-off” show the weekend before WGI Championships.
When are the performance dates?
Most performances occur on Saturdays, although the WGI regionals are often two-day events, with preliminary performances on Saturday, and finals performances on Sunday. WGI Championships is a three-day event, with preliminary performances on Thursday, semifinals on Friday, and finals on Saturday (April 20-22, 2017)
How do I find more information about Gateway?
You can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and get in touch with someone who can help answer any questions you may have, or for information on how you can get involved and support Gateway. Also, we have social media pages that you can follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.