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Junior Colonials/Westbrook Fife & Drum Corps Calling Local Youth!

By Meghan Peterson

(February 16, 2024) — Every Monday evening at 6:00 p.m., you will find a dedicated group of parents and children gathered at the Higganum United Methodist Church (248 Saybrook Road, Higganum) for several reasons: music, community, and a vision of continued appreciation for town, state, and country.

Lisa Williams, Director of the Junior Colonials Fife and Drum Corps (part of the Westbrook Fife and Drum Corps), explains that the group was founded in 1961 in order to “educate its members in musicianship and in the heritage of the fife and drum movement.” Although Westbrook-based, the group now meets in Higganum at HUMC. The Church space provides ample room for different practice sites to suit the musicians’ needs.

For example, the fifers practice upstairs; the drummers practice downstairs. Parents are there for the youth as needed-standing, watching, and listening. Ultimately, however, the Jr. Colonials convene and sit at a long table–at an independent distance from the adults–and get right down to business.

The young musicians listen attentively to guided instruction from their teacher, Anna Williams. “How is everyone?” she asks kindly, as she approaches. “Have we been practicing? ”Answers vary, with the refreshingly candid humor only children can provide: “Yes;” “I could not quite find the time;” “A little bit.” Anna looks at them all with a twinkle in her eye. She begins by overseeing a warm-up for the entire group.

Next, the corps typically splits into two sections–one for participants who are practicing the fife, the other comprising those who are practicing the drums. Anna directs–with patience and attentiveness–the drummers to practice single strokes and paradiddles (Left, Right, Left Left or Right, Left, Right Right taps) on their drum pads. They practice individually as well as together. Toward the end of the practice session, the fifers join the drummers and play several songs. Every week, they conclude by playing the National Anthem of the United States of America.

Anna shares that she thoroughly “enjoys teaching and playing music with all of the munchkins!” When you hear this group of merry fifers and drummers play, you can feel the joy in the room. You can hear the love of music, of history, of country–a recognition of timeless principles-that these kids bring to life through their playing and camaraderie.

Youth membership in the Jr. Colonials ranges in age from 5 to 18. According to Chris and Sarah Page, parents of sons Ryder and Waylon, who play in the corps, the group has recently grown by an additional five families. Ryder, who has been playing in the corps for many years, teaches kids to play the fife. Lisa Williams’ daughter, Anna, began with the Jr. Colonials fifteen years ago and now carries the torch of instruction at that long table in the center of the room described earlier.

In addition, Lisa’s son, Jim, has been playing for 25 years and is a proud member of the Connecticut Valley Field Music. Jim also teaches fife. Lisa explains that getting involved with fife and drum is all about “music immersion.” While the “sweet spot for learning fife and drum is between 7 and 9 years of age,” Lisa notes that it is a good idea for children younger than that to begin seeing what practices are like.

Lisa and Sarah recommend that folks begin the “music immersion” process by watching fife and drum videos as well as attending, observing–even participating in-practices as often as desired. The group does not charge any dues. As Lisa explains, “fife and drum is all about family. We, as families, proudly march in parades and musters, keeping alive the historical tunes of our country. Our family has been in fife and drum for more than 30 years, and we keep on marching with pride.”

Together, Lisa, Chris, Sarah, Anna and Ryder work to cultivate the Jr. Colonials’ work and role in events such as civic parades and other community events throughout Connecticut. For more information on how to become a part of and/or support the Jr. Colonials Fife and Drum Corps, you may write an e-mail to or call:

Lisa Williams: wjcfdc@gmail.com 203-392-1283

Chris Page: AwakePatriot@hotmail.com 203-215-7628

Photos courtesy of Chris and Sarah Page

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