Students at Ridge Road Elementary School recently learned about the history of military music when the Lancraft Fife & Drum Corps came to their school. The corps’ Oct. 10 presentation also was an opportunity to discuss the importance of fife and drum playing during the Revolutionary War and to hear a sample of the genre.
Corps Treasurer Danny O’Mara explained to the kids that music was used as a form of communication on the battlefield.
“Drums were always used in communication and in the 1300s the Swiss started using piccolos and fifes in the military,” he said, explaining that the fife makes a very shrill sound that can be heard for two miles even over cannon fire and gun fire.
According to O’Mara, fifes and drums could tell troops when to retreat, when to prepare for battle and could even signal danger.
The Lancraft Fife & Drum Corps included the history of events leading up to the war in its presentation and played songs for the youngsters including “Yankee Doodle,” “Road to Boston” and “Grandfather’s Clock.” Members also explained the significance of those songs to the time period.
The presentation fit in perfectly with what fourth and fifth graders were preparing to do next: research projects based on the Revolutionary War.
“They need to know about where we came from, that there’s a bigger picture other than themselves,” said Sheryl Holle, a teacher in the fourth and fifth grade Integrated Day program.
Students will be asked to pick a specific topic related to the war and complete a research project to share with the class. Topics could range from battles, to key figures in the war and even drum and fife players like the Lancraft Corps.
Caitlin Fletcher, another fourth and fifth grade ID teacher, said that she believes these projects and exposing students to their country’s history will help them “become better citizens of the world.”
“There’s so much that we assume that they know and there’s so much they assume that they don’t know,” she said. “I’m surprised about how much they knew just talking at the event now.”
At the end of the event, O’Mara made sure to tell the students about the importance of learning about American history.
“It’s important for the rest of your life to realize that these people, who were not soldiers here in America, were willing to stand up against the tyranny of the king of England who didn’t want to let go of his control,” said O’Mara. “The words liberty, freedom and independence are very important.”