Spirit of America is a marching band with a mission. With the goal of teaching life skills such as teamwork, leadership, sportsmanship and service, the Orleans-based band travels the country and the world performing and sharing music.
This month, Spirit of America will travel to Dubai to perform and assist Drum Corps United Arab Emirates Performing Arts in forming the first marching band in the country and the Middle East. Spirit of America has conducted similar workshops and educational programs in South Korea, South Africa, Australia and Canada. “In the past, Spirit of America has initiated the program,” explains director Richard K. Pugsley. “In this instance, the folks at Drum Corps UAE reached out to us. Apparently, word has spread!”
The two-week visit will include workshops and one-on-one instruction covering all aspects of field band. A performance featuring both Spirit of America and the Dubai students will punctuate the trip. “What makes this project unique and really mind-blowing is the band will not only perform, but they will then spend a week giving one-on-one instruction to each of the Dubai young people,” says Pugsley. “Many of the members of Spirit are music education majors so this gives them real-life classroom experience and with a language challenge!”
SOA is a melting pot of America, with the assembled group of musicians coming from 27 different states in the U.S. “The group includes some of the ‘all stars’ of the drums corps and marching programs across our nation,” says Pugsley.
Local groups like the police and fire departments of Sandwich, Sandwich High School, Cape Cod Academy and Oak Ridge Elementary School have been integral in supporting the musicians when they visited the Cape to plan and rehearse. Pugsley is quick to note the collaborative nature of the project. “This has not been possible without the support of others—the crews who cook meals and drive to and from the airport and the young people who have decided it is worth spending some of their lives giving back to others. It’s cool!” —Amanda Wastrom