Keeping the beat in Dellwood

The city of Dellwood has created a free drum and bugle corps program to keep school band members from all over St. Louis County focused on music over the summer 

By Charlotte Beard

The city of Dellwood has found a way to help school band members in Berkeley, Dellwood, Ferguson, Florissant, Hazelwood, Jennings, University City, St. Louis City and North St. Louis County keep their skills sharp during the summer. The city’s free drum and bugle corps program, Dellwood Dragons, now in its fourth season is headquartered at the Dellwood Recreation Center, located at 10266 West Florissant Avenue. 

While helping youth ages 13-18 maintain their musical skills during the summer, the program’s overall mission is to provide life-skills and combat juvenile delinquency. The program is directed by Keith Porter who is retired from his services of US Army – Lieutenant Colonel and law enforcement in Jefferson City.

“Also, I was a D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) instructor for over 10 years. I know a lot about decision-making, drug abuse awareness and peer pressure; we incorporate those things into our program. Our program also has three cardinal principles: self-discipline, self-control and self-esteem. We really appreciate Mayor Reggie Jones for allowing us to have the program. The director of the recreation center is Marvin Crumer and the (program’s) staff are mainly volunteers. It is also mentored by the Drum Corp Alumni Organization (DCAO). They have a rich history in drum and bugle corps as a positive alternative to combat juvenile delinquency. They go back over 100 years with the Tom Powell American Legion Post #77,” Porter said.

Dellwood’s bugle and corps program which includes free access to the Dellwood Aquatic Center, resumed this year in May and will run through September. Practice sessions are on Saturdays 1 to 3 p.m. Each session engages youth during the marching and maneuvering training, sectional practice (divided by brass horns, percussions and color guard) and full ensemble practice. The program is still accepting youth who want to participate. Currently there are approximately 40 participants. The program is looking to have 100 youth. Porter shares that their main concentration is recruiting brass horn players.

“The brass horn players need to be skilled at reading and playing music because they are compensated,” stated Porter.

Brass horn players are paid $20 per practice and performance as a scholarship, provided by Blueprint4SummerSTL. Porter shared that they are the hardest to recruit and it takes longer to master a brass instrument. 

“Percussion players are also needed,” states Porter, “and they need to be skilled, also. The color guard – we can train them.”

Chayanne Bonney, one of Dellwood Dragons’ trumpet players joined the program for the first time this year. She will be a high school junior this fall. 

“With my love for music, I love being able to play,” stated Bonney. “(Because I’m) out of school over the summer it gives me something else to do. It keeps me busy.”

Bonney went on to encourage other youth to get involved in the program.

“They should join – it’s fun. There are a lot of great people. It’s a lot of hard work but overall I think it’s something fun and beneficial for others – if they’d like to do it.”

Yearly, the Dellwood Dragons show has a theme. This year the theme is Blue Fiesta featuring Latin music. Their next performance is scheduled for July 20 at the Spanish Lake Community Fest located at Trinity Catholic High School at 1720 Redman Road. The fest begins at 1 p.m. A schedule of all upcoming Dellwood Dragons performances can be found at https://www.facebook.com/dragondrumcorps. For more information call the Director, Keith Porter at 573-301-0105, or e-mail him at keithporter2013@gmail.com.

CUTLINE: Submitted photos The Dellwood Dragons, now in its fourth season is headquartered at the Dellwood Recreation Center, and helps youth ages 13-18 maintain their musical skills during the summer, provide life-skills and combat juvenile delinquency.