Connecticut’s Fife and Drum Corps…Positively New England

July 14, 2010

One of the greatest facets of life in New England is the way in which we hold onto the traditions of early Colonial America. Being one of the original thirteen colonies, Connecticut is home to a number of historic figures and events that led to the formation of our great nation. Today, the traditions of early Colonial America are on display all over our state, kept alive in large part by Connecticut’s fife and drum corps.

If you happened to attend a Fourth of July parade earlier this month, there is a very good chance that you were able to witness and experience the music and precision of one of these corps. Many of these musical groups wear military-type uniforms with the unmistakable three-cornered hats that are indicative of 18th Century America. The uniform is a tribute to the major role the fife and drum played in many of America’s early battles including both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, where the sounds of these instruments would indicate troop location and movement.

Some have called Connecticut the “home of fife and drum corps” in the United States, with junior and senior corps located in every region of our state. In fact, our state is home to The Company of Fifers & Drummers, a non-profit organization whose membership includes drum corps and individuals from all across the U.S. and Europe. Their mission is “to perpetuate the historical significance and folk traditions of fife and drum music and to foster the spirit of fellowship among fifers and drummers everywhere.” Judging by the number of people, both young and old, who are involved in fife and drum corps I believe they are doing a tremendous job at promoting a fun and treasured activity.

The Company also owns and maintains The Museum of Fife & Drum at its headquarters in Ivoryton, CT. Here you can see many artifacts displayed, including drums, fifes, military swords, music, uniforms, medals, awards and photographs. Some of these pieces date back to the early 18th and 19th Century.
The impact that fife and drum corps has here in Connecticut never ceases to amaze me. There are dozens of corps that practice year-round, and both adults and youth that are involved spend their summers marching in parades and performing in ancient musters and other events.

One corps that I am very familiar with is the Marquis of Granby Junior Ancient Fyfe and Drum Corps. The corps is located in Granby, CT but actually has history with the Duke of Granby in England. As a former member of the corps who once played the fife and even served as the corps’ drum major, the organization is a great way for young people to learn about the disciplines associated with playing instruments (from some of the very best instructors) in an environment that is educational and, most important, fun!

Friendships, camaraderie, and memories that will last a lifetime are some of the things that I got out of my drum corps experience. There is also a sense of pride that can send a chill up your spine when you are marching down Main Street in front of a large crowd of cheering people – it is quite the experience. Fife and drum corps are one of the many entities that add to the character and charm of New England and is something we all can enjoy.

For more information about Connecticut’s Fife and Drum Corps, or about how you can get involved with an organization please contact my office at 1-800.842-1421 or email me at [email protected].