The national drum corps scene had a decided New England flair this past season in that several participants in several top corps have Massachusetts roots.
Amy Grelle, daughter of Frank and Elaine Grelle, is a 20-year-old Senior at Merrimac College, majoring in psychology, and she is a National Champion, having captured the title this past season while marching with the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps, who tied the Blue Devils in Orlando at the D.C.I. World Games.
Gerry wasn’t like the other drummers and instructors. Hell, he wasn’t like anyone you ever met before, a unique, creative, intense and driven genius. He now resides in Wilmington, Delaware and his current passion is sailing. He screams at the waves, the seagulls, the sails, the sun, and anything else that amuses him.
New England has had more than its share of innovators going back to Chappell in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s and too many others to mention here, but along with Chappell and George Zingali, the visual giant, Gerry Shellmer changed the face of marching percussion for all time.
However checkered its history in winning championships may be, Massachusetts has traditionally featured many national contenders. From the late 1950s to the mid 1980s, this state had a formidable national presence that resulted in intense – often bitter – local rivalries.
In the 1950s, the nationally contending corps were I.C. Queensmen, Salem P.L.A.V., St. Thomas More, the Holy Trinity Cadets, Most Precious Blood Crusaders, and the Braintree Warriors, with Cambridge Caballeros, St. Kevin’s, Majestic Knights, and St. Rose Scarlet Lancers just reaching national maturity. (more…)
Dear Aunt Mildred,
You’re probably wondering why I sent this letter to you care of Masters of the Marching Arts. I happen to be a personal friend of your nephew, R.C., and he gave me the inside track on this new gig of yours and told me that you don’t get paid if there are no letters in an issue. Whereas this is the first issue, how could you be expected to have letters? He sure is one smart dude.
Anyway, my question is this: What is the story on the 27th Lancer Alumni Corps? I think they’re the greatest! I was a little disappointed this year to see them at the Lynn and Beverly shows and then to find out later that there was some kind of a rift – the drummers were mad at the buglers or vice versa? What gives?
By Gerry Shellmer
In my opinion, listening to a drum corps percussion section is as musically boring as a politician’s campaign speech. Imagine how interesting and musically rewarding a drum corps contest would be if the instrumentation were not limited to mere drums and cymbals. The contest would evolve into an enjoyable show and therefore a more saleable product which would realize more $$$ for the corps.
Honestly, consider the amount of musical orientation drummers receive who play in even the finer lines in the nation. Hopefully they will at least learn how to read music and play in time. They learn to play with precise execution – the snare drum, the tom tom, bass drum, cymbals and tympani. Whether or not they learn to play these instruments with the proper technique is in serious doubt.
Before a percussion student is accepted into any good music college, he must demonstrate a degree of proficiency on a keyboard mallet instrument, usually the marimba. Where does he get the training? Certainly not in the drum corps!!!