STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Jake Duffy

duffy

One of the most iconic scenes and displays at Colonial Williamsburg (CW) is that of its Fifes and Drums Corps, a group composed entirely of youth from around the Historic Triangle. Williamsburg Christian Academy junior Jake Duffy has been participating in ‘Fifes & Drums’ (for short) for six years of his sixteen as a bass drum player in the group, which fully trains our area children in historically accurate playing of the fife or drums, often with no prior musical experience of any kind. 

“Fifes & Drums is such a part of the Williamsburg community. During Jake’s six years in the program we have had numerous people in CW share with us how they come to see the Fifes & Drums,” commented Emily and John Duffy, Jake’s parents.  “And since Covid, many have shared how excited they are to see the corps marching again. It is such a part of the “colonial” visit.”

CW Fifes and Drums History

According to their website, the Fifes and Drums were established in 1958, and the costumes, music, and even instruments mirror in painstaking detail that which would be used in the period, when two boys usually aged between 10 and 18 would accompany army regiments on the battlefield. The piercing fife and the thundering drum could be heard over the din of battle, making them a crucial means of communication for commands like parley, cease-fire, and retreat.

When founded, members were comprised only of boys. Ushering in a new millennium also ushered in a change to that long-standing tradition, as girls were finally permitted to participate in 1999, despite mild criticism that the change represented a deviation from the historical accuracy of the corps. Today, girls make up almost a third of the players. 

The corps has played for presidents and foreign dignitaries, recorded at least five albums, and performed internationally.

Starting out and Moving Up

Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums enrolls children as young as rising 5th graders. “I started playing in the corps in 2016 when I was ten years old,” Duffy shared. “ At that time, I was an unpaid volunteer while I learned the basics of colonial drumming, and after around a year, I ranked up and became an employee and began marching.” The program takes students through an eight-year regimen that teaches them how to play an instrument and aims to instill respect, leadership, and teamwork values. As part of the program, they take classes in music theory, colonial history, and military commands. The Senior Corps, which Duffy performs in, is a highly selective and nationally recognized subgroup of the full organization. The Senior Corps has traveled globally through the years and is considered one of the finest performing groups of its kind in the world. An additional aspect of being selected to the Senior Corps, or ‘ranking up’ as it is termed, is becoming a mentor to younger players. “Jake recently ranked up to corporal and joined the Senior Corps,” explained Emily Duffy, Jake’s mom. “When Jake first began as a recruit and during his time in the Junior Corps, he had several young men who were mentors to him, helping him and teaching him. Now, as Jake joins the Senior Corps, we are seeing him mentoring others and being a leader to the younger members of the junior corps.”

Those six years have, like everything else, been significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 virus pandemic and the restrictions that came with that. “We are incredibly proud of Jake’s perseverance and determination to put in the time, and hard work learning numerous tunes,” stated Emily Duffy, “especially staying focused during COVID when classes were on zoom, and there were no performances or marches.” The COVID period resulted in a drawdown of the corps, and that resulted in an unintended effect of putting Jake into an even larger leadership position. “Fifes and Drums has taught me better leadership skills because after COVID, the corps got a lot smaller,” explains Jake,” and this moved a lot of people, including me, into a larger leadership role.”

The Benefits and Challenges

Unlike many musical groups, where the participants oftentimes have to pay for their musical instruction, members of the marching corps are actually paid since they contribute to the appeal ofduffy CW as a tourist destination. The time commitment to reach the level of professional play demanded of those members is substantial. “Currently, I am marching twice a week and helping to teach the newer members of the corps at least once a week. This, along with learning music on my own, means I spend about 12 hours a week working on Fifes and Drums,” explains Jake.   “This means that I have to make some sacrifices with sports and other activities while I try to balance everything. There is always something that gets cut, and I have just had to learn to live with that, and due to Fifes and Drums being a job, most of the time that comes first.”

The benefits, in part, derive from that balancing act, according to Jake’s parents. “Jake has benefited from his participation in the program in numerous ways. He is more confident; for example, he interacts with the guests following the performances and marches, answering questions about the instruments and the program, and even allowing children to play his bass drum.  Jake has learned time management; attending fifes & drums classes and performing two to three times a week, keeping up with his duffyschool work, as well as playing soccer, basketball, and baseball for WCA.” In addition to Jake’s participation in WCA extracurricular activities, he is also enrolled in WCA’s Workforce Readiness program, which is a specially designed track to give WCA students the tools and skills they need to immediately pursue careers out of high school that do not necessarily follow the traditional 4-year college path. 

There are also the benefits of playing and performing in events that are central to the heart and soul of Williamsburg. “One of my favorite performances has been Drummers Call, an event hosted by Colonial Williamsburg, where around twelve to fifteen different fifes and drums corps from around the country come to Colonial Williamsburg to play over a whole weekend,” Jake shared when asked about his favorite F&D experiences. “But my all-time favorite performance that the corps does is called Firing of the Christmas Guns, which happens on Christmas Eve and honors a former member of the corps who passed away shortly after leaving the corps.”

The bottom line for Jake? Much like the WCA Curriculum, which seeks to develop students into young adults capable of guiding their learning and developing our seven pillar traits, Fifes and Drums has had a major impact on Jake. “I think that Fifes and Drums has had a very big impact on me in almost every aspect.  It really helps to develop patience and determination as you must learn music on your own and then come in and play with others.” shared Jake. “ This has also helped me with my time management in learning both for school and for Fifes and Drums.  I also feel that I have learned a lot about being able to guide guests through their questions about the corps.” 

For more information on CW’s Fifes & Drums, visit their website at  https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.org/learn/on-site-opportunities/join-fifes-drums/

Williamsburg Christian Academy is still enrolling on a rolling admissions basis. To contact our admissions department for a tour or shadow, or to receive more information, visit our website at williamsburgchristian.org, or email admissions@williamsburgchristian.org. Interested families can also reach our Admissions officer directly at 757-378-5263. 

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Jake Duffy

duffy

One of the most iconic scenes and displays at Colonial Williamsburg (CW) is that of its Fifes and Drums Corps, a group composed entirely of youth from around the Historic Triangle. Williamsburg Christian Academy junior Jake Duffy has been participating in ‘Fifes & Drums’ (for short) for six years of his sixteen as a bass drum player in the group, which fully trains our area children in historically accurate playing of the fife or drums, often with no prior musical experience of any kind. 

“Fifes & Drums is such a part of the Williamsburg community. During Jake’s six years in the program we have had numerous people in CW share with us how they come to see the Fifes & Drums,” commented Emily and John Duffy, Jake’s parents.  “And since Covid, many have shared how excited they are to see the corps marching again. It is such a part of the “colonial” visit.”

CW Fifes and Drums History

According to their website, the Fifes and Drums were established in 1958, and the costumes, music, and even instruments mirror in painstaking detail that which would be used in the period, when two boys usually aged between 10 and 18 would accompany army regiments on the battlefield. The piercing fife and the thundering drum could be heard over the din of battle, making them a crucial means of communication for commands like parley, cease-fire, and retreat.

When founded, members were comprised only of boys. Ushering in a new millennium also ushered in a change to that long-standing tradition, as girls were finally permitted to participate in 1999, despite mild criticism that the change represented a deviation from the historical accuracy of the corps. Today, girls make up almost a third of the players. 

The corps has played for presidents and foreign dignitaries, recorded at least five albums, and performed internationally.

Starting out and Moving Up

Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums enrolls children as young as rising 5th graders. “I started playing in the corps in 2016 when I was ten years old,” Duffy shared. “ At that time, I was an unpaid volunteer while I learned the basics of colonial drumming, and after around a year, I ranked up and became an employee and began marching.” The program takes students through an eight-year regimen that teaches them how to play an instrument and aims to instill respect, leadership, and teamwork values. As part of the program, they take classes in music theory, colonial history, and military commands. The Senior Corps, which Duffy performs in, is a highly selective and nationally recognized subgroup of the full organization. The Senior Corps has traveled globally through the years and is considered one of the finest performing groups of its kind in the world. An additional aspect of being selected to the Senior Corps, or ‘ranking up’ as it is termed, is becoming a mentor to younger players. “Jake recently ranked up to corporal and joined the Senior Corps,” explained Emily Duffy, Jake’s mom. “When Jake first began as a recruit and during his time in the Junior Corps, he had several young men who were mentors to him, helping him and teaching him. Now, as Jake joins the Senior Corps, we are seeing him mentoring others and being a leader to the younger members of the junior corps.”

Those six years have, like everything else, been significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 virus pandemic and the restrictions that came with that. “We are incredibly proud of Jake’s perseverance and determination to put in the time, and hard work learning numerous tunes,” stated Emily Duffy, “especially staying focused during COVID when classes were on zoom, and there were no performances or marches.” The COVID period resulted in a drawdown of the corps, and that resulted in an unintended effect of putting Jake into an even larger leadership position. “Fifes and Drums has taught me better leadership skills because after COVID, the corps got a lot smaller,” explains Jake,” and this moved a lot of people, including me, into a larger leadership role.”

The Benefits and Challenges

Unlike many musical groups, where the participants oftentimes have to pay for their musical instruction, members of the marching corps are actually paid since they contribute to the appeal ofduffy CW as a tourist destination. The time commitment to reach the level of professional play demanded of those members is substantial. “Currently, I am marching twice a week and helping to teach the newer members of the corps at least once a week. This, along with learning music on my own, means I spend about 12 hours a week working on Fifes and Drums,” explains Jake.   “This means that I have to make some sacrifices with sports and other activities while I try to balance everything. There is always something that gets cut, and I have just had to learn to live with that, and due to Fifes and Drums being a job, most of the time that comes first.”

The benefits, in part, derive from that balancing act, according to Jake’s parents. “Jake has benefited from his participation in the program in numerous ways. He is more confident; for example, he interacts with the guests following the performances and marches, answering questions about the instruments and the program, and even allowing children to play his bass drum.  Jake has learned time management; attending fifes & drums classes and performing two to three times a week, keeping up with his duffyschool work, as well as playing soccer, basketball, and baseball for WCA.” In addition to Jake’s participation in WCA extracurricular activities, he is also enrolled in WCA’s Workforce Readiness program, which is a specially designed track to give WCA students the tools and skills they need to immediately pursue careers out of high school that do not necessarily follow the traditional 4-year college path. 

There are also the benefits of playing and performing in events that are central to the heart and soul of Williamsburg. “One of my favorite performances has been Drummers Call, an event hosted by Colonial Williamsburg, where around twelve to fifteen different fifes and drums corps from around the country come to Colonial Williamsburg to play over a whole weekend,” Jake shared when asked about his favorite F&D experiences. “But my all-time favorite performance that the corps does is called Firing of the Christmas Guns, which happens on Christmas Eve and honors a former member of the corps who passed away shortly after leaving the corps.”

The bottom line for Jake? Much like the WCA Curriculum, which seeks to develop students into young adults capable of guiding their learning and developing our seven pillar traits, Fifes and Drums has had a major impact on Jake. “I think that Fifes and Drums has had a very big impact on me in almost every aspect.  It really helps to develop patience and determination as you must learn music on your own and then come in and play with others.” shared Jake. “ This has also helped me with my time management in learning both for school and for Fifes and Drums.  I also feel that I have learned a lot about being able to guide guests through their questions about the corps.” 

For more information on CW’s Fifes & Drums, visit their website at  https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.org/learn/on-site-opportunities/join-fifes-drums/

Williamsburg Christian Academy is still enrolling on a rolling admissions basis. To contact our admissions department for a tour or shadow, or to receive more information, visit our website at williamsburgchristian.org, or email admissions@williamsburgchristian.org. Interested families can also reach our Admissions officer directly at 757-378-5263. 

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