Evolution of Winter Guard International

John (J.R.) Carlisle earned his BA in music education from Marshall University and immediately embarked on a career in education. John (J.R.) Carlisle maintains his strong involvement in music education by serving as a judge for winter guard associations across the country, including his past service adjudicating for Winter Guard International.

Winter Guard International was developed in 1977 by a group of color guard aficionados who were concerned about the quality of competitions in their activity. The skill and enthusiasm of the drum and bugle corps that participated in the competitions were unquestioned, but different skills and elements, such as military drill and equipment handling, were being given varying emphasis in different parts of the country. Thus, when color guards from different parts of the country met for competition, there was no universal standard against which they were evaluated.

The 1977 meeting positively addressed the problem. It defined winter as the season for all Winter Guard activities, which were held indoors, and established a single point scoring system for competitions. Rather than being held one location, the annual championship competition rotates among the various regions of the country to emphasize the national identity of the program.

Winter Guard International has evolved significantly from the roots of its early meetings. Where its basic manuals were the U.S. Flag Code and U.S. Army Field Manual 22-5, Drill and Ceremonies, they have since given way to an emphasis on the movements of dance and the theater. Adjudication of competitions has shifted away from penalizing units for movements performed incorrectly to emphasize showmanship and creativity.