THE KAW VALLEY FIFE & DRUM CORPS

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In a nutshell.

Jim Krause in the 1813 uniform of a fifer in the U.S. Army
Jim Krause in the 1813 uniform of a fifer in the U.S. Army
Photo by Jeff Latz

The Kaw Valley Fife and Drum Corps is an Ancient Fife and Drum Corps that also plays period correct music on instruments suitable for reenactments. By joining the group, you get a first class uniform, drum or fife. We teach at The Americana Music Academy, in Lawrence, KS. We will be performing at historic forts, reenactments, parades, community events, and we may attend fife and drum musters. Anyone can join; we teach the instruments with qualified instructors, and we even provide the uniforms all with no dues or association fees. You can carry the flag or march as infantry with a musket, too.

Who are we.

We are The Kaw Valley Fife and Drum Corps. Based in Lawrence, KS, we are an ensemble of fifers, drummers and support people dedicated to the art of fife and drum. We are a brand new ensemble. We hope our membership will consist of families and individual members alike.

What we stand for.

Our organization is dedicated to the study, preservation, and performance of fife and drum field music as experienced during the early years of the Republic by martial and civilian units. To the best that resources allow, we intend to perform authentic field, camp and civilian music in authentic uniforms. As it currently stands, we will focus on the music, so some non-authentic content to the uniforms will always exist. Our standard uniform will include

  • 1813 "Tombstone" Shako (hat)
  • Red wool Foraging Cap
  • 1813 U.S. Musician's red wool coatee
  • Infantry shirt of the period
  • Black Leather Stock, your period "necktie"
  • braces (suspenders that button onto trousers)
  • white linen infantry trousers
  • low quarter black leather shoes; some have heel plates, some don't, or black brogans are an acceptable substitute
  • Black painted gaiters
  • haversack
  • canteen
  • White Linen Roundabout
Again, all these items are fine quality and perfectly suitable for reenactments and living history events. They are also suitable for parades, and combining the fine quality music with the quality uniforms really benefits the group and the audience. This uniform is a goal and will be adopted as funds permit. In the beginning, we will uniform ourselves in something more readily available.

We are a parade corps first, reenacting corps second. This is fact because reenacting is a resource drain, parades replenish those resources whether they be musical or financial. Playing together as a corps in parades is so vital to the skills of a corps, that without it, the reenactment and other performances would not succeed.

Where and how we operate.

We operate in the greater Lawrence, Topeka, and Kansas City metropolitan areas, and may range far beyond depending on the event.

Our books are ALWAYS completely open and ANONYMOUSLY ACCESSIBLE using original documents and statements when possible for the most accurate reporting and most open reporting of this vital information possible. Information is reported in real time, and no requests are required to view the data.

Once a member of The Kaw Valley Fife & Drum Corps, you are a real member, not an associate or a volunteer of a "sponsored group." You will vote and hold office, and never be treated as an outsider. The more you put into the group, the more you get out of it.

Who can join?

Anyone who can march can join. You can spend your time with the corps learning the instruments, performing and gaining skills in other areas, or you can provide greatly needed support carying or guarding the nation's colors at the head of the group. Everyone 10 years and older may participate, many of us are parents, so the whole family can get involved. We encourage parents to participate with their children, it shows the kids a side of adulthood they rarely get to see as well as builds their confidence when they succeed while you also succeed in your chosen craft.. There is a place for everyone, even those who have a healthy fear of playing music in public. This page should answer some of the particulars about joining the KVFDC.

How to Join!

Show up at a weekly rehearsal in Lawrence and speak to any of our friendly volunteers. Stop us before or after an event and request information. Or join on-line by filling out the form here.

You do not need to know how to play the fife or drum to join. Our qualified instructors provide lessons through the Americana Music Academy or you can participate in supporting roles. You can find the curriculum by clicking here.

OK, but what is the cost?

There are NO dues. There will be, however a $100.00 deposit required upon officially joining the corps. After a year of performing faithfully with the corps, the deposit will be refunded in toto. You do not have to provide the expensive War of 1812 wool coat, linen trousers, or hat and accoutrements. You do, however, have to provide black shoes (no sneakers) and your own shirt. We will suggest which shoes to purchase if you don't already have a suitable pair. We also have the shirt pattern available. You are welcome to purchase a fife if you wish, (it must be a Peeler Eisenbrandt model in the key of C) or thick War of 1812 type drum sticks from a reputable dealer or some other small items. Otherwise, while you are learning the instrument, you will be issued a student model fife or a drum will be reserved for you at class, once we obtain drums. Once you have mastered the instrument through demonstrated ability to play a selection of standard tunes, you will be loaned a performance grade instrument that you can bring home. At the right time, the two skills, marching and playing, are joined and you are awarded full musician membership in the corps. For further clarification, please consult The Fine Print.

The time requirement on your part is pretty strict. You should attend as many rehearsals as possible throughout the year and as many events as possible through the marching season. You do not have to attend reenactments or musters. Every parade or festival event is considered a best-effort event, with reenactments and musters falling under the try-to-attend category. We rehearse __[TBA]______ evenings from ___[TBA] to [TBA]______. During the school year, we practice at ___[TBA]________. Out of the school year in ___[TBA]___.

Why so much practice?

The music style reqiures us to memorize tunes and to be proficient in the instrument enough to play and march at the same time. The number of practices is required because it takes people quite a bit of time to come up to speed. It has been my experience that adults take more time than children to learn the instruments, but less time to memorize new tunes. A full year practice schedule is required to maintain proficiency. Besides, everyone needs to get out of the house at least once a week!

Last, we wish to express our thanks to Ken Barlow Executive Director of the Excelsior Fifes and Drums for his help, ideas, and advice in creating the content of this web site. Thanks, Ken!

KVFDC Tune Index | KFVDC Curriculum | Join the KVFDC | The Rules and Regs. | Jim Krause's Fifer's Web Page

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