Diplomats Drum Corps marches into new season

Zander Kelly
By Zander Kelly October 6, 2017 12:18

By Zander Kelly

Diplomats Drum and Bugle Corps director Bob Thwait stands in front of the awards won by the Corps this past year on Sept. 30, 2017.

Diplomats Drum and Bugle Corps director Bob Thwaites stands in front of the awards won by the Corps this past year on Sept. 30, 2017.

Members of the Diplomats Drum and Bugle Corps have ended their fifth season with smiles and celebrations.

Bob Thwaites is the director of the Corps and said the awards night on Sept. 30 marked the end of their year.

Thwaites has been the director since he acquired the Corps in 2012 during its last months as The Spirit of Windsor.

Spirit was a notable marching band in the Windsor area, alongside the Windsor Optimist Youth Band (Est. 1966) and the Kingsville-Essex Associated Band (est.1937), both of which are still in action, celebrating their 50th anniversary and 80th anniversary respectively .

The Corps takes people of all ages from grade school to university and fashions them into talented young musicians.

“We have had drummers join us who know nothing about drumming,” said Thwaites.

 

“They learn so much so quickly, because we’re always pushing them to do better.”

Andrew Busch has been one of those drummers for five years.

“(The Corps) is something special. Everybody has a friendship between every single person and we all respect each other,” said Busch.

“I’m really thankful for (Thwaites). He strives to make you excellent.”

The Diplomats can be found performing at local events on a regular basis, such as at Children’s Fest in September or at Open Streets. The band also plays across North America, from Toronto to the American Midwest, in competitions and parades.

“It’s kind of like being on a sports team where the season is all year,” said Hannah Belle McCullough, a baritone player.

“(The awards night) is one of the only times where all the members and parents get together and talk about being in the band and not have to worry about the music,” said McCullough.

The group is not funded by the government or by a club, but from the pocket of Thwaites himself.

“It costs about $35,000 a year, not including capitol,” said Thwaites.

“We would love new drums and uniforms. Our drums can be up to 30 years old, parts of our uniforms may be older. We would love a 40 piece drumline but that’s expensive.”

Lori Duquette has been the brass instructor and song arranger for the corps almost since the beginning.

“The best part of the corps is seeing the show come together over the course of the summer,” said Duquette.

“Every year it’s a new show with a new makeup and new people. I’d say that the culmination of all of that is the best part.”

The colour guard is directed by high school student Courtney Gregorian who is using the experience to shape her career plans.

“I definitely enjoy being with children and teaching them,” said Gregorian. “It really creates a bond between people who normally wouldn’t meet other people. I would like go to on to teach grade school or high school some day.”

As the band continues into its new year, Thwaites finds a personal invitation into the band to be most effective in gaining new members.

“The best way (we get new members) is that kids bring friends,” said Thwaites. 
“We go to schools, we run ads in papers and on Facebook. We go through all the channels but kids bringing in friends is the best way.”

As for what is in store for next season?

Thwaites says “Stay tuned.”

 

Zander Kelly
By Zander Kelly October 6, 2017 12:18

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