MC4HFD welcomes members from ages 8 through 18 at all levels from absolute beginner to experienced. We are organized as a 4-H club as part of the University of Massachusetts Extension youth program, which means the members of our corps chooses their events, their music and their leaders. We also rely on strong parental involvement and the dedication of our instructors.
New recruits are welcome to join at any time. Annual dues are $60. Instruments, instruction and most uniform parts are provided without charge. We rehearse most Sundays from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM at a few rotating sites within Middlesex County. Rehearsals are not held on holiday weeks or weeks where the corps has a performance.
The corps is organized info three sections: the drum line, the fife line and the color guard. Each section has a sergeant, denoted by a red cockade on their hat, who is the leader of that section. There may also be a corporal, denoted by a solid green cockade. All other members wear a green and white striped cockade.
New recruits are assigned to the color guard until they have learned the five standard recruit tunes. While recruits are working on learning to playing these tunes they will be uniformed and included in events as color guard. They are also taught marching and the associated commands. Each time a recruit has learned a tune well enough to be able to play it with the corps, the instructor will say the tune has been “passed off”. When they have “passed off” on all five tunes, they “join the line” (the fife line or the drum line.)
The corps is always learning new material so practice is required for all members, regardless of their level of experience. We recommend practicing 20 to 30 minutes a day. While nobody loves to practice, we find that the more a member practices, the more fulfillment they find in fife and drum.
Booking and Invitations
There is no better way to invoke the Massachusetts spirit than with a fife and drum corps! If you are interested in hiring MC4HFD for a parade or event, please use our contact form and our manager will be happy to work with you.
MC4HFD is also honored to be invited to musters and other events. If you have an invitation to extend, please also use the contact form.
Fife & Drum
More than anything, fife & drum is a community. Members of fife & drum corps share a special bond and many life-long friendships have been forged. There is a shared love of music and history that is open to everyone. Fife & drum can be a lifetime passion, from junior corps to Jaybirds (over 60).
Musters give fife & drum corps an opportunity to come together and show off their skills. They typically start with a parade of all of the participating corps, then each group has an opportunity to play a few tunes “on stand” on the muster field. Often musters include a fun “F-Troop” parade or a jam session where members of all the corps mix up and play some standard “jam tunes” that everyone knows together.
Each year there is a Junior Fife & Drum Camp in Deep River, Connecticut. The four day camp is run exclusively by volunteers so it is inexpensive for participants. At camp, young fifers and drummers from all over the country have an opportunity to make new friends while improving their musical skills. On the last day of camp, the campers perform at the Deep River Ancient Muster (DRAM) Tattoo (an event held the evening prior to a muster.)
Snare drummers: Snare recruits should have a practice drum pad. We recommend avoiding the smallest diameter drum pads, but any practice pad will do. Snare drummers are responsible for providing sticks, which should be Cooperman 17″ L, 11/16″ D (Lemley, Connecticut Drummer or Parley). New recruits can use other sticks in the beginning, but should start working with the larger sticks as soon as possible to become accustomed to them. The corps will provide a rope-tensioned snare drum and sling to members ready to join the line, but the drum remains property of the corps.
Bass drummers: Bass recruits should have a practice drum pad. We recommend avoiding the smallest diameter drum pads, but any practice pad will do. Bass drummers are responsible for providing sticks of your choice for practice. The corps will provide a rope-tensioned bass drum, straps and beaters to members ready to join the line, but the drum remains property of the corps. Beaters can be purchased at Cooperman, although the corps often has some extras to lend.
Fifers: Fife recruits will be given a plastic practice fife. Members ready to join the line will be provided a wooden fife and case, which remain property of the corps.
The uniforms of MC4HFD are inspired by those of the colonial militias of 1775. They include many parts! Some uniform parts are specific to the member’s section, others are specific to the weather. Most uniform parts are supplied by the corps and a few member-supplied parts are the responsibility of the member. The corps does have an inventory of parts that are typically member-supplied. If we have it available in the correct size, we will supply that too. We are frequently able to fully outfit our members.
|Hat & Cockade||Provided|
|Shirt||Townsend’s or Military Uniform Supply|
|Breeches||Townsend’s (stark white) or Military Uniform Supply|
|Stockings||White, above-the-knee. Townsend’s or similar.|
|Shoes||Black with black laces. Dinkles Glide or similar.|
|Long underwear||White, for cold days.|
Are you interested in helping MC4HFD? We are always looking for more instructors in fife, drum, and color guard/marching. Prior fife and drum experience is required, and alumni are always welcome! Please contact us for further information.
Our directors, executive board and instructors are all volunteers. We ask that parents participate in the organization of the group in any way that they can, whether it is something as simple as posting recruitment flyers, keeping an eye on everyone while getting ready for a performance, or as complex as sewing/repairing uniforms. We have an organized snack schedule for the mid-rehearsal break and each week a different family is asked to bring in a snack for practice. We also have gatherings from time to time and ask that families contribute as they can.