“Winds” in AIA

“Winds” presents marching music ensembles in the same performance environment as indoor color guard and percussion ensembles to showcase their musicianship with any kind of instrumentation.  The 2 divisions of competition offered are scholastic groups and for all-age ensembles. Each division includes A, Open, and World Class levels of competition.

As one of the world’s largest and most influential marching arts organizations, WGI is pleased to be bringing exciting competitive and educational opportunities to students in the winds section in full support of the total band program. By creating WGI Winds, the legacy of excellence has an outlet for a high quality performance experience.  We look forward to offering this new activity in AIA. Students are judged by the most skilled adjudicators working in the marching arts today while sharing their love of music and motion under the guiding principle of an educationally sound scoring system.

2022 Evaluation Format and Captions

AIA will be adopting the following format and criteria. Three (3) judges will evaluate each ensemble in the following captions:

Music Analysis (30%)
– Composition 15%
– Achievement 15%
Visual Analysis (30%)
– Composition 15%
– Achievement 15%
Overall Effect (40%)
– Repertoire Effectiveness 20%
– Communication Effectiveness 20%

Winds rulebook can be found in the AIA Member Access section.

Scoresheets can be found at the following links:

Videos from WGI ->

Contest Rules – AIA follows WGI contest rules


General Notes about Winds from WGI Winds Director


One of the targets of the sessions was interpreting the important phrase “The emphasis and focus of adjudication will be on the wind instruments.”

  1. The purpose of that phrase being placed on those sheets was twofold:

(1) To send a message to groups that this is to be an activity with wind instruments as the primary focus musically and instrumentation-wise

(2) To comment that although any instrumentation may be used, the judges input will be focused on the winds

  1. There was discussion and consensus reached regarding how to evaluate auxiliary (nonmusician) performers.

(1) Overall Effect judges will consider these performers, either as a positive or as a negative, in their evaluation “to a small degree.”

(2) Visual Analysis will evaluate all performers and their contribution. The wind instrument focus does not appear on this sheet.

  1. For Music Analysis and Overall Effect, the wind instrument phrase relates to winds, electronics and percussion. Groups are going to use any number of percussion & electronic instruments, or possibly none, both marching and stationary. Judges will consider these performers, either as a positive or as a negative, in their evaluation “to a lesser degree than the winds.”


The variety of instrumentation and style of show is a very unique aspect of the new WGI Winds division. Very few restrictions were placed on instrumentation. This was intentional to let the designers, staffs and performers be creative in their approach and determine what this division will become.

  1. On the one hand, this will make for a very interesting show for the audience and judges.
  2. On the other hand, this will be the most challenging aspect of judging WGI Winds.
  3. The concept of Balance must be approached differently than in marching band or the other pageantry arts. There is no “standard” balance as we expect in a concert or marching band. We will approach balance as defined by the groups instrumentation.

(1) We will assume that the group has chosen the instrumentation that is performing.

(2) If there 8 woodwinds and 16 brass, the resulting balance is based on that instrumentation. We should avoid comments like “it would be better if you had more woodwinds.” or “you really need a tuba.”

(3) The same is true for upper, middle and lower voices. The so-called “pyramid of sound/balance” is NOT applicable.

(4) We should expect a balance relative to their chosen instrumentation.

(5) More importantly in our adjudication is a good balance of the musical elements:

(a) Melody to Accompaniment

(b) The “musical hierarchy” – primary voice, secondary voice, etc.

Sheet – Definition / Clarification

Some further definitions & clarifications from the judging sheets

  1. Music Analysis – “Sonority” is to be defined as true characteristic tone qualities with university/professional concert bands, jazz groups and orchestras as our model. This of course should be appropriate to the idiom/genre chosen. (e.g. A “symphonic” sax sound should be different from a jazz sound.) In this new indoor genre, performers will have the opportunity to play and be heard with the distinct colors of their instrument and not blend into a “homogenized” ensemble sound that is not characteristic. i.e. “A trumpet should sound like a trumpet.”
  2. Music Analysis – “Depth and Variety of Orchestration” must be considered in relation to the group’s classification. (see Classification below)
  3. Overall Effect – “Program Concept/Premise” is an important factor but not the entire focus of Overall Effect. Keep it in balance with the rest of the sheet.
  4. Overall Effect – “Creativity/Imagination” must be considered to be of high quality. Simply being creative without quality, just for the sake of uniqueness, is not effective.
  5. Any vocal performances or narration must be considered in Music Analysis and Overall Effect relative to their quality (MA) and to their effectiveness (OE). The MA judge need not feel required to comment on vocal technique, but the standards of quality, intonation, etc. are universal.


Understanding the Classification System and what the expectations are for each class is important in Ranking and Rating.

  1. It is important that the performing groups are competing in the correct class for their level of development and maturity.
  2. “Groups who may be competing in the wrong class could find that the scoring process will isolate them, because these criteria are so strongly attuned to the curriculum involved in the developmental process.”
  3. If as a Winds judge you feel a group is in the wrong class, please inform the Chief Judge of the Contest
  4. For the music category it may be helpful to think of classification as relative to high school Concert Band grading of concert music. This does not quite line up cleanly however:

(1) A Class – Grade 2 to low Grade 3

(2) Open Class – Middle Grade 3 to low Grade 4

(3) World Class – Middle Grade 4 – Grade 5 (or perhaps Grade 6 in Independent World Class)

  1. It may line up better with some states’ 3 tiered Solo & Ensemble Classification

(1) A Class – Class C

(2) Open Class – Class B

(3) World Class – Class A


Accountability is an important chapter in the Manual.

  1. Assigning Scores

(1) Every number we assign sends a message

(2) Not an exact science

(3) Working towards consistent application of the process

(4) Should feel comfortable discussing scores with staffs

  1. Impression

(1) Initial impression to determine which Box, as per class expectations.

(2) Are the performers Experiencing? Discovering? Knowing? Understanding? Applying?

  1. Analysis

(1) Divide the box into thirds

(2) Low-Mid-High

(3) [ some, some ][ most, most ][ all to some of the next box]

(4) Further refine score after filtering reactions through criteria

  1. Comparison

(1) Once Impression and Analysis have honed in on a number, use tools to compare with any other competitors in that neighborhood

(2) Necessitates the use of Spread Guidelines to arrive at a number

(3) Message being sent in chosen spread

  1. Adjust

(1) Does not mean second guessing oneself

(2) Means being willing to be flexible and adaptive as new information comes into the comparison

Rules / Logistics

Rules and logistics that judges and directors need to be aware of:

  1. Wind groups must have a minimum of ten (10) members on the floor of competition at any time including the student conductor (optional).
  2. Wind groups may use one optional student conductor positioned in the competition area.
  3. The Music judge will be positioned low in the stands and may be moved by the Chief Judge in order to better appraise the individuals within the ensemble. The General Effect and Visual judges will be positioned higher in the audience viewing area. The Timing and Penalty judge will be positioned in the competition area. [Note: The Music Analysis judge will be in a position to evaluate balance as one of the descriptors, probably close to the other two judges.]
  4. Each wind group, with all competing performers, shall remain in the competition area and be judged in all captions for a minimum of four (4) minutes.
  5. The end of the maximum performance time is at the obvious conclusion of the show. All captions will be judged until the obvious conclusion of the show.
  6. Winds groups may include a playing entrance as part of the performance following introduction. [Warm-up – groups may choose to do a warm-up before their show as actual winds warm-up time is limited.]


  1. WGI’s philosophy is that the “critique belongs to the instructor.” This is their opportunity to ask questions and discuss their show and group.
  2. Each group will get 3 minutes with each judge at Contests.
  3. In the essence of using the time wisely, forego introductions and jump right into the discussion. “How can I help you?“ or “ What would you like to discuss?” are good starters.
  4. The critique is not a time for judges to rehash what you have already said on your recorded commentary. However, be prepared with 2 or 3 main points should the instructors not have questions or comments.
  5. If the opportunity arises in scholastic classes, music judges should make the connection between indoor winds and concert bands reinforcing each other and using the same music education practices such as working on fundamentals.