Going to WGI for a 16 year old British student was never something i could have imagined. I always planned on travelling to the states when I was older, but after being asked to audition and being offered a vibe spot, I could hardly refuse! This was the opportunity I’d been hoping for several years and it was happening! The actual reality of it didn’t properly hit me until about a week before i was due to set off for America, and the realisation that I was actually going to the USA to march WGI with Rhythm X was huge.
However, before this, I had lots to sort out. School (Bradford Grammar School) were extremely supportive of me and my trip, and they agreed to set up liaisons in the US and to email work (For GCSE’s) to me to complete and return to school to be graded. Also, there was the matter of clothes and suitcases to worry about, and i also had my music through from Rhythm X to get on with leaning. Along with relearning the usual warm-ups i was familiar with on marimba, but for vibe, the show music was arriving piece by piece and it was everything i expected and wasted no time getting round to leaning it. And, of course, i needed some place to live for the three months of my stay. Andrew Markworth put me in contact with a 17 year old member of the X snare line and Spirit of Atlanta (now Bluecoats) member, Ryan Ellis and his family. They, very kindly, agreed to put me up for the duration of my stay and this was the last item to sort before my departure.
It had been decided it would be best for me to arrive at X rehearsals in mid-late January, and my flight was booked for the 24th, leaving Manchester in the morning and arriving at Cincinnati that evening after a three hour change over in Atlanta. As the date drew closer, my excitement just grew and grew. When the day finally arrived, i was ecstatic (and slightly nervous about figuring out my way around the huge Atlanta airport) and after saying goodbyes to my family (including a withering wreck of a mother) i was on my way! I was on the plane within an hour, and I had a comfortable 9 hour long flight.
Atlanta was hectic. After a 2 mile walk through the airport terminals, i reached homeland security. It was at this point that i hit problems. After having my hand scanned, i was asked why i was in the USA, to which i explained about Rhythm X. I was transferred to a secure room with around half a dozen others, and was interrogated as to why and what i was doing in the USA. In the end, i had to show them videos of X on YouTube and go through the rehearsal schedule, show concept, staff team and WGI finals. After an hour of this, i was finally allowed to go, with only two hours to figure out the maze of Atlanta Airport. A lot of running and a subway train later, I arrived at the gate with time to spare for a McDonalds. Another shorter flight brought me to Cincinnati, which was much easier to comprehend, being much smaller.