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36 Years of Performing

The Middlesex County 4-H Fife & Drum Corps was formed in 1972 as a 4-H club in Concord, Massachusetts in anticipation of that town’s celebration of our country’s bicentennial. Today, its members come from over a dozen different towns in eastern Massachusetts and they range in age from 8 to 19.


Youth Empowerment

Youth leadership is the cornerstone of 4-H and this fife & drum corps embodies just that. The kids quite literally run the show. They make decisions about music and presentation, and they determine the program for each event. Leadership opportunities are as varied as running the fife or drum line, helping teach the beginners, checking the uniforms, or making sure the new kid next to them is doing OK in his or her first parade. 4-H members are proud of themselves and of their corps, and this is apparent at each and every performance. They are loyal and committed and are able to present themselves in a professional and disciplined manner well beyond their years.

 

Music and History

All of the members of the 4-H Fifes & Drums share a love of music and history. They are proud of their role in carrying the centuries-old tradition of fife & drum music into the future. Because its roots are in the area of our country where the American Revolution began, the corps primarily plays music of the 1700’s. There are many opportunities for the kids to learn about American history at the events where they perform --from a ceremony about the capture of Paul Revere to a reenactment of the Boston Massacre.

 

Events

The 4-H corps plays at musters, parades and civic ceremonies. There are about twenty performances each year and corps members are expected to be at a minimum of 75 percent of those events. The 4-H Fifes & Drums has marched through the hallways of the Museum of Fine Arts, participated in living history days at our National Historical Parks, and performed for crowds in Market Square in Colonial Williamsburg. In July 2004, they had the special honor of being chosen to play at the Fleet Center in Boston for the Democratic National Convention. Each April, they continue the tradition of performing as the Honor Corps for the Concord Patriots Day parade as they lead the procession across the historic North Bridge to commemorate the start of the American Revolution.

 

Color Guard, Fifers and Drummers

New members may choose to play the fife, the snare drum or the bass drum. No previous musical experience is necessary. The teachers are volunteers from other excellent corps who want to pass down their own love of this musical tradition. All members march with the color guard until they pass off the tunes required to march with the fife or drum line. This gives them a chance to learn to follow marching commands as well as participate with the corps soon after joining.

 

Family Involvement

4-H corps members are quite independent in their roles within the corps, but this is made possible by an extraordinary support network of parents and teachers. Families are welcome at all practices and events. Parents are encouraged to dress in 18th century clothing in order to accompany the corps in parades. There is a rotating snack schedule for each practice, and there are always jobs to be done by willing parents. In fact, the corps often feels like one big family, full of loyalty and support for one another.

 

Rehearsals

Music and marching rehearsals are held for 1 to 2 hours every Sunday afternoon during the school year, except on those weekends when the corps has performed in an event. During the summer, rehearsals are on Monday evenings. Rehearsals are currently held in Weston and Lincoln.

 

Uniforms and Instruments

The uniform of the corps is green and white, the official colors of the national 4-H organization. The style of the uniform --tri-corn hats, relatively short vented waistcoats, gathered shirtsleeves, fall-front breeches, buttoned haversacks, and leather garters-- is based on styles worn in New England in the 1770’s. Most uniform parts are loaned to members by the corps. The corps provides plastic fifes for fifers when they begin music instruction. Later, the fifers must buy wooden fifes of their own when they enter the fife line. Beginning drummers must buy their own practice pads and sticks. However, once they are ready to enter the drum line, drummers are issued a drum by the corps.