BELOIT - Anatowind Music Clinic, 854 Bluff St., is seeking African-American males in third grade through high school to form an all-male Drum and Bugle Corps. The opportunity is free and will be a great way to revive a strong tradition in the African-American community, according to Anatowind Clinic Director James Simmons.
There are only two all-male drum corps left in the United States and the Anatowind Music Clinic wants Beloit to be the third. Simmons said he won't give up on his plans, even if it takes him 20 years to do it. He's been passing out brochures on the program and has been in contact with the school district to try to enlist interested boys.
"I don't like to see a child not playing an instrument," Simmons said.
All equipment, uniforms, brass bugle and percussion will be provided as well as instruction. For more information people can call 608-362-1920 and leave a message expressing interest and how you can be reached.
Potential corps members are not required to have any musical experience.
"The ideal candidate is someone who doesn't play," Simmons added.
The corps will be a summer activity, with kids practicing about once a week for about an hour from April through September. The target age group is third grade up through high school.
When 16 African-American males of school age have expressed an interest, a meeting will be held to explain the program in more detail.
Simmons' vision for the corps is a non-competitive team which would play in the neighborhood and at community events. Simmons also hopes to establish an educational fund so when corps members get older they can obtain scholarships. He said the corps can teach kids discipline and teamwork and inspire other youth.
Simmons already has enlisted one member of the corps, 15-year-old Isaic Pulliam, who plays the contra bugle. He also plays tuba at Beloit Memorial High School and is hoping more students will join.
Simmons launched the St. Peter/Brother Dutton Drum and Bugle Corps in 2010 for kids at St. Peter and St. Jude Catholic parishes. Today, the Corps has 50 kids in sixth grade and under. This year they will be marching in the South Beloit centennial parade in August.
Simmons explained the Drum and Bugle Corps was a key part of the African-American community during the 1950s through the 1970s. It had originally started following World War I when veterans wanted to establish an musical organization that showed pride in America.
Local VFWs, churches or parishes often would provide the instruments and highly decorated uniforms got the corps. It was most popular in the African-American community within churches in the 1940s and 1950s. However, in the 1960s as the drum corps moved from the cities to the suburbs, it declined in the community.