Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums

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The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums, also known as the Field Music of the Virginia State Garrison Regiment, is the host organization of the annual Drummers Call at Colonial Williamsburg held each May. Since 1958, visitors to The Revolutionary City in the Historic Area at Colonial Williamsburg have enjoyed the musical performances and experienced the history of America’s Revolution provided by the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums.

Colonial Williamsburg’s field musicians are drawn from a waiting list of young community applicants. Boys and girls begin their education in military music at age 10 and practice weekly for the next eight years, until after they have graduated from high school. These young people talk with the public about the role of music in the 18th-century military. They teach younger members the music and history lessons needed to continue the tradition of the field musicians.

The Fifes and Drums appear in more than 700 performances each year. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is justifiably proud of each of these truly remarkable young Americans, past and present. They have come to symbolize what is best about our community, our history, and our museum.

History of Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums
With the onset of war in 1775, Virginia began to train an army to defend against a British invasion. Fifers and Drummers were an important part of the 18th-century military. Just as Virginia enlisted soldiers and stockpiled arms and ammunition, it also trained fifers and drummers to work with soldiers in the field. In the 18th century, fifers and drummers tended to be boys ages 10 to 18. Today, in modern Williamsburg, members of the Fifes and Drums are boys and girls ages 10 to 18.

In 1778, Virginia needed soldiers to protect the Capitol City of Williamsburg. The General Assembly established the Virginia State Garrison Regiment, which served in the Tidewater area of Virginia, stationing troops at Hampton, Yorktown, and Williamsburg. Fifers and drummers served with the enlisted men of this regiment. According to the Williamsburg Public Stores accounts, the field musicians numbered some 22 players.

Today’s corps of fifers and drummers was raised in 1958 to support the reenactment militia programs presented in the Historic Area for the education and enjoyment of visitors to Colonial Williamsburg. All of the music, both on this recording and in the Historic Area itself, has been researched and documented as authentic to the period. The arrangements are by staff members and corps members.

This rich historical context led to the establishment of a fife and drum corps for Colonial Williamsburg in 1958. It has continued, uninterrupted, to the present day. Millions of visitors to the Historic Area have experienced the history of the American Revolution through the stirring musical performances of The Fifes and

When you purchase music recorded by Colonial Williamsburg Productions you are preserving a legacy. Each purchase helps support the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s research, preservation, and educational programs.

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