Stu’s ultimate Marching Round Up
Stu Warmington concludes his look at marching bands around the world
Here we are at the final marching article! The journey over the past 12 months has taken us from the UK to USA, Switzerland, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Singapore and The Netherlands.
I’d like to thank the following drummers for their contributions: Russ Piner, Mark Reilly, Hazizi Jaafar, Patrick Stalder, Jeff Blankespoor, Scott Johnson, Jim Kilpatrick MBE, Nathan McLaren, Lukas Hirt, Tomi Kauppila and David Lindberg, without whom none of this would have been possible. Thank you, gentlemen. So, as I round things up I’ve decided to cover a few other bands and organisations that I am involved with but couldn’t squeeze into the previous publications. First off is the Liberty High School Grenadier Band. The band is based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania USA. I’ve been their Percussion Advisor since 2014. They are styled on the British Foot Guards and wear the same scarlet tunics and bearskins as the Coldstream Guards. Numbers in the band vary year to year but they can be anything from 260-300. They also take their drill movements from the British Army but still manage to perform the complex half-time shows you’d expect at any American Football game. The Liberty High School Grenadier Band was founded in 1926 and has performed in countless parades and at special events including Harry Truman’s Inaugural Parade, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades, Pasadena Rose Parade, Miss America Parade and the 65th and 70th anniversaries of the Pearl Harbor bombing. The band produced a documentary in collaboration with TV Channel PBS 39 about the history of the Liberty High School Grenadier Band which won an Emmy Award. One famous drummer who attended the school and was also part of the Grenadier Band was Jimmy DeGrasso, who has played with Ozzy Osbourne, Suicidal Tendencies, Black Star Riders, Alice Cooper and Megadeth.
TYMBA (Traditional Youth Marching Band Association) was set up to cater for bands who did not gain from being members of other organisations which support the more ‘show band’ style of marching bands. The association aims to offer different training and development opportunities for its members and also has a competition league system in which most of the membership participate. There are many contests throughout the year which contribute to the league, which all culminate in the National Championships,
which is always the jewel in the Association’s crown and a great day for competition. Away from the arena, TYMBA runs an annualSolo Musician competition where more than 100 of our young players compete across almost all instruments.
As President of TYMBA it’s my aim not only to make sure the organisation stays on track but also keep the traditional youth bands of today engaged in the association to stop it from dying off. More recently, TYMBA has focused more on education in music as this has started to decline in schools, so its’ now down to youth bands to give as much direction as possible. In the past they’ve attended masterclasses, witnessed displays and professional clinicians and gone on field trips to professional military bands’ locations to see how they do it, as well as getting free tickets to see some of the UK’s best bands performing at top venues in London.
Another area I’m involved with is Northern Ireland. There are over 700 marching bands in Northern Ireland which is pretty incredible when you look at the size of the country. I teach the drummers in a band that styles its look on the Royal Marines Band Service. From a distance, they could easily be mistaken for members of the Royal Marines Band. It’s not until you get up close you start to see the differences such as a different drum emblazon as well as slight changes to the tunic. I’ve worked with these guys for the past 18 months incorporating Royal Marines stickwork patterns as well as a structured practice regime, and the standard they have risen to is amazing. It just goes to show that passion can achieve anything.
So, as I bring this final article to a close I’d like to thank the guys at Rhythm for giving me a chance not only to bring something new to the readers of this fantastic magazine but hopefully it’s now brought some members of the marching world to the mag, and hopefully this cross-over of different drumming worlds was worth the hassle to the Editor who was constantly emailing me saying, “We’re on deadline so I need this today!” Sorry Chris! Thank you to the readers who have read my articles and I hope you found them informative and relevant. So, until next time, take care..
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Stu pictured with the drummers from the Liberty High School Grenadier Band