Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need previous experience?
SHORT ANSWER: Yes and no.
Lets consider two definitions of “experience”
If you define experience as…
…some form of participation in a marching arts, percussive, or musical activity that has equipped you with at least some standard abilities such as
• music reading (pitches and/or rhythms)
• correctly holding percussion implements (mallets/sticks/cymbals)
• understanding marching fundamentals
• and/or understanding the note layout of a keyboard instrument.
Then YES—If any fewer than two of those items are not in your repertoire, earning a spot at Vegas Vanguard may not be in your immediate future. However, you are welcome to register for an audition, soak up everything you can, and come back to make it happen in the future! We also recommend (but do not mandate) participating in your school’s music program and their marching arts programs to develop yourself!
If you define experience as…
…participation, membership or leadership in your
• high school indoor/outdoor percussion program and/or marching band
• collegiate percussion program
• Drum & Bugle Corps or other Independent Indoor Percussion Program
Then NO—We do not require, expect, nor give priority to or hold in high regard anyone with experience in or affiliation with any particular ensemble or program. The simple fact is that experience is experience and it should only make you better and improve your capacity to handle our material to audition successfully. You will audition as yourself, not a representation of your merits or affiliations.
How much is the audition fee and why do I have to pay it?
SHORT ANSWER: $75, because ample time and space is not cheap.
Audition fees are $75 and are required to support the initial startup costs of a season such as the fees we must pay to utilize facilities, transport equipment, and other necessities.
Equally as important, fees are also a way for you to show that you are committed to potentially sacrificing both a great deal of time and finances to join us for an incredible season. Inability or disapproval of paying $75 at the outset may raise the question of whether or not you have the financial means or personal understanding of the commitment that is membership in Vegas Vanguard.
**please also note that these fees are non-refundable under no circumstances
How long is the audition process?
SHORT ANSWER: Generally two weeks (this may change)
Auditions are typically two, 8-9hr days spread out by at least one full week. We typically release audition material and registrations approximately one month before the scheduled audition date. We do this to see our auditionees’ commitment level to learning our material as quickly and effectively as possible in a short period of time, as it is helpful data when determining who can handle the rigors of a season—one such rigor is a fast learning curve.
The FIRST audition day functions mostly like a clinic on our technique, mindset, approach, and so on. There is obviously an emphasis on being capable of playing our material but 100% memorization and perfect execution is not our main target. Our main target is teachability, growth over the course of the day, and attitude towards our way of playing and the others auditioning.
The SECOND audition day, should you be invited back, will function almost like a rehearsal. As of the second day, you are to arrive and operate as if you are a member of Vegas Vanguard but your “job is on the line” (no pun intended). You are expected to return with the instructions of your staff applied to their fullest extent, material to be memorized, mind and body to be ready, and our technique to be honed to a greater detail than when first introduced.
You may be asked to continue your audition throughout the subsequent rehearsal weekends following auditions in order for the staff to determine your suitability to secure a contract. You may still be denied after that process. Likewise, there may not always be direct “competition” with you during that extra auditioning time, as we may simply be unsure on fully committing to you earning a spot. We do not intentionally drag out the process unless we are very uncertain, this is usually an extenuating circumstance.
How much does the season cost?
SHORT ANSWER: Season costs are typically between $1,400 and $2,000 depending on scheduled travel.
The 2019 tour fee was $1,400 which did not include a trip to Dayton, Ohio for World Championships. The average “Dayton-bound” season can cost up to $2,000 or more. Your tour fees are very simple. Literally every dime is spent on you. This means travel, uniform, music, floor, instruments, storage, parts, implements, events, season shirts, and so on. What nominal surplus from your fees remains is usually then dispersed to the awesome staff and educators who began, fulfilled, and ended the season with out a penny of compensation for their time and energy sacrifices.
…and we think that’s a totally fair deal.
Other funds that help us grow are typically acquired by donation. Unless someone donates directly to you and your fees, donations directly to Vegas Vanguard do not always translate to immediately lower tour fees, though it is not completely out of the realm of possibilities. The simple fact is that we would have to receive a staggering amount of assistance to warrant a sizable discount to each member.
What is your rehearsal Schedule like?
SHORT ANSWER: Rehearsals for 2019 were Saturdays 9am-9pm and Sundays 10am-2pm.
**this is adjusted during the early-mid weeks of November to avoid conflicts with HS football and band competitions.
This is a schedule that is similarly adopted by nearly all groups across the country. Most programs, however, also employ a Friday 5pm-10pm rehearsal that we currently do not.
**this schedule is subject to change each season and many adjustments are made during each season to accommodate a myriad of conflicts and events that are often inevitable**
What is your attendance policy?
SHORT ANSWER: Be there. On time. Always
You must be at rehearsals. Work is not an excuse. Ever. Please read the italicized section of “HOW DO PAYMENTS WORK?” if you need clarification. Family events, doctors appointments, school conflicts and all of the other obligations that may present themselves must be communicated a minimum of 10 calendar days prior to the absence to be approved without affecting your “good standing” membership.
And before you have a panic attack, we understand that life happens, and with those moments, we obviously respect and waive those absences in good faith that you are providing us with the truth.
You will sign a Code of Conduct, if contracted, that will very clearly explain the attendance policies.
MORE FAQs to come
Since we are still building this site, more FAQs will be added. Your questions, questions at auditions, and other items will slowly make this list. If you have any questions not answered here, go to our Contact Us page and reach out.
What happens if I don't make it?
SHORT ANSWER: Then you don’t make it.
“Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not.”
- Bill Gates
Vegas Vanguard is a lot closer to “life” than it is “school.” You may not make it because you just may not be ready, talented enough, prepared enough, or any other myriad of reasons. You may be phenomenal but just slightly less phenomenal than that one person we took instead you. But the truth is, we can’t take everyone, and we can’t teach you from scratch. We also can’t take ego or bad attitude; remember, we have to live with you about seven months.
Here’s the good news, though. The worst that can happen by not making it is that you improved yourself by trying. Information is information, and time on the drum is time well spent. If you came to our audition and did your best, listened, took notes, and asked questions, then you got better and that’s all there is to it. If you truly want it, you’ll work your rear end off for the next 365 days and come back an even better drummer and earn your place!
What happens if I make it?
SHORT ANSWER: Congrats.
You will be given a contract for your review to sign. You will then be given a password for the member login on this website to pay your first installment of your tour fee. Your first payment comes in the form of a downpayment (a total which will be discussed when contracted) that cannot be refunded. It serves as your understanding to the commitment of paying your dues to assure that you and everyone else has the resources to have a successful season. It also serves as a way to make your regular payments an even amount.
What If I’m Still In High School?
SHORT ANSWER: You’re still eligible—but you better communicate
All auditioning individuals still in high school will be required to have their respective band director(s) communicate, in writing, to Vegas Vanguard their approval of your audition and potential membership if awarded a contract.
Should you be contracted, you will have exactly one week (7 days) to exchange the appropriate calendar of events for each program (your HS and Vegas Vanguard) to be reviewed and signed by each respective director. If necessary, a meeting or phone call may be arranged to discuss conflicts.
School comes first; however, obligations—and when you commit to them—hold their merit and we must come to and understanding that you will do your best to communicate absences, conflicts, and the occasional oversights to your teachers and Vegas Vanguard regarding conflicts on both sides. Remember, this is all about learning and a great experience. Only you will create stress and frustration among your superiors by NOT COMMUNICATING.
How do Payments work?
ANSWER: Payments are made biweekly and are due the Friday night before our Saturday rehearsal of a “Payment Week.”
Again, you will be given access to the member area of this site to pay your fees. When we post the payment schedule, it will be your responsibility to make sure you are paid in full when each due date comes. Should you arrive to rehearsal unpaid, you will be asked to leave. Period.
We don’t want to be punitive but one individual can seriously harm the entire enterprise of a season by falling behind on payments.
Other rules on payments will be discussed at your time of contracting.
Please understand that the concept of “I can afford this” means you do not have to miss rehearsals to pick up a work shift in order to make payments here and there. Affording the season means you are capable of making your payments and being present for all rehearsals.
Can I get cut midseason?
ANSWER: Yes. Absolutely.
There are only four reasons you may be removed from Vegas Vanguard after successfully securing a spot.
Failure to pay fees on time or at all
Actions that violate our Code of Conduct
Recurring punctuality and attendance issues
Failing to grow in your capacity to execute show material
It is very unlikely that 2 through 4 will be an issue, but it would not be transparent of us if we did not note that our primary reason for ejection is failure to pay fees. This is remarkably important, again, because without fees, we cannot pay for travel, show design, and everything else! So if you can’t or don’t pay the money that we will spend on you, then we will have no money to spend on you.
When is the cutoff date to sign up for auditions?
ANSWER: There is no cutoff date other than the audition itself.
You may register just hours before the first audition. However, this isn't recommended in regards to preparation.
What are the age requirements to audition?
ANSWER: The Rules per WGI are as follows:
1.1 Percussion ensembles from the United States competing in the independent classes and composed of members not over 22 years of age as of 12:01 a.m. on April 1st of any given year shall be permitted to compete in contests governed by WGI. Each ensemble appearing at a WGI contest shall be prepared to show proof of age. International independent percussion ensembles are not bound by any age limit.
1.1.1 U.S. Military veterans may be granted one (1) year of eligibility immediately following their end of active service. To qualify, individual must have enlisted prior to their 19th birthday, served for no less than four (4) years, and must have been honorably discharged or medically separated. Veteran must submit a copy of their discharge papers and separation documents to WGI prior to December 1 to qualify.
Vegas Vanguard reserves the right to limit the earliest age at which an individual is allowed to participate. We do not allow any individual under the age of 12 years as of 12:01 a.m. on November 1st of any given year to participate in our ensemble.
Can I come just for the clinic?
ANSWER: There will not be a clinic option this year.
You are still welcome to audition and have no intention of joining; however, all auditionees will be considered for membership.
This allows us to operate the audition process effectively with the equipment and positions being auditioned. It is not practical or fair for individuals who truly wish to make the ensemble to have their playing and instruction time hindered by individuals not wishing to do the same.
Therefore if you are attending just to learn but do not have the ability to handle the material or are unprepared because you just want to learn, do not expect much time on the drum or keyboard, as staff will rotate individuals on and off instruments. Simply, those with the most promise will get more playing time.
What about drum corps audition conflicts?
Communication and moderation
Look, we're all one family—drumming is drumming. We want you to find success beyond Vegas Vanguard and achieve your dreams whatever they may be. We also understand that both activities have evolved to a point where they're demanding your time simultaneously and it can become stressful. Luckily, all parties understand what it means to make a prior commitment and that, after all, you are drumming and learning regardless of possible audition/preseason conflicts.
Therefore, our policy is a simple process:
At the time of your Vegas Vanguard audition registration, you will list the potential Drum Corps for which you will audition
If you have their audition & camp dates, you will list them ALL on your registration or provide them immediately via email to your director upon their release.
You will be allowed to list two (2) Drum Corps for which you will audition.
You will be allowed a first audition for both Drum Corps
You will then be allowed one (1) callback for your Drum Corps of Choice (if applicable)**
Should you earn a contract with your drum corps, discussion between you and your director will take place in person to determine a schedule that suits Vegas Vanguard the best, as it is our active season and your Drum Corps' preseason. Your future drum corps organization will understand this justification, as the diplomatic relationship between Drum Corps and Indoor Ensembles has been active for many years.
If necessary, your director will advocate with and for you to your new Drum Corps' director.
**our reasoning for this is that we simply cannot afford your absences by virtue of a string of failed auditions and callbacks as you vie for a spot at one corps after another.