TEWKSBURY – After a one year hiatus, the Spartans Drum and Bugle Corps of Nashua, New Hampshire returned to national competition, with a team that included Tewksbury residents Taylor Dube, Kim Duffy, Jen Duffy, and Kristen Webber.
Taylor – part of the Spartan’s Color Guard and in her third year in drum corps - doesn’t remember a time that Drum Corp wasn’t a part of her life, having been brought along by her grandmother, Ellie Dube, to Ellie’s events when she was a member of a drill team in Stoneham. Although Ellie died in a 2008 car accident, she continues to inspire Taylor, who cannot help but think of her grandmother as she continues her own participation in Drum Corp. Taylor says that she loves being part of “something that no one else does,” and loves “the rush” of having “your moment” during competition, knowing that you are performing in front of tens of thousands of people. Taylor says that being in Drum Corp has taught her how to be a leader, and how to have courage and independence.
Kristen – also a Color Guard member – already had five years of drum corps behind her when she joined the Spartans this past year, joining other drum corps friends who had already joined. She says that the experience of being in drum corps has taught her, “that the sky is the limit. I can push myself to do whatever I want to do. When I first saw what drum corps was, I never thought that I could run around in 90 degree weather for 14 hours a day. Granted it wasn't an easy thing to do, but I now know that I can push myself.”
Kim Duffy and Jen Duffy are members of the horn line; bell-front brass instruments being a defining element of drum and bugle corps.
Jennifer – a trumpet player - joined the Spartans for the 2010 season. She was familiar with Drum Corps since her sister and other friends were already involved. Since she was 21 during the 2010 season, it was her last chance to be part of the Spartans, according to Drum Corps International rules. In a “now or never” situation, Jennifer decided to go for it. She says that being part of the Spartans has given her a chance to experience how a group of disparate people, “can work together to not just achieve, but surpass goals others may have seen as unrealistic.”
“Together,” Jennifer says, “we learned how to prepare, work hard, endure, and take care of each other. And most importantly, to be proud of ourselves and our accomplishments. “
If you've ever been at the Pheasant Lane Mall during the summer, then you more than likely have seen and heard the Spartans practicing. But if you are unfamiliar with this group, or others like them, Spartans Drum & Bugle Corps is a musical marching unit (similar to a marching band) consisting of brass instruments, percussion instruments, and a color guard. The color guard is the visual representation of the music and uses sabers, rifles, and swing flags, as well as a mix of ballet, jazz, modern, and contemporary modern dance in its performance.
Drum corps compete against other corps from all over the country in smaller shows during most of the summer. This summer, the Spartans were on tour for two weeks, which involved 70 to 80 kids and their adult leaders traveling in two buses, with a food truck following them. Besides the actual competitions, tours can involve sleeping on gym floors, laundry days, and Wal-Mart stops for filling the essential snack boxes Drum Corp members like to have with them on the bus.
The Spartans compete in the Open Class category of the Drum Corps International organization, which has three competitive classes: World Class, which is primarily college age students; Open Class which is generally made up of both high school and some college-age students, and International Class, which is comprised of corps from outside North America. Each time they competed, the Spartans took first place in their division.
In August, groups meet in Indianapolis for the Drum Corps International Open Class World Championship semi-finals and finals. During competition, corps are judged on three broad categories: general effect, visual, and music.
For the Spartans, the return to competition was significant. Having weathered bankruptcy, the organization returned with a whole new administration and staff, to resurrect the group that had originated in the 1955.
The Spartans placed third overall (missing second place by only four-tenths of a point) in the Open Class division, which included groups from all over the United States and Canada. In scoring the Spartans on their visual effect, judges gave the Spartan’s color guard the highest marks, resulting in a First Place win for the color guard.