Friday, June 26, 2009

Letter from Reader: Looking for Drum Instructor Howard Reiff

This is probably not the forum for such a request but I don't see the harm. Let's see whether anyone out there can assist Paul Blaccard, a reader of this blog, who wrote recently:

Curious, I was searching for my old drum instructor Howard Reiff and came across your blog. What info do you have on him? I know he lived in Huntington Long Island ...

It was 1969 - 1974. Howard Reiff was the drum instructor for a Junior Corp called The Crusaders or formerly the St. Helena Cadets (Bronx NY). They had hired him because he was the best and known for producing points winning drum lines.

At the time I recall he also taught a drum line called the Blue Angels. They were right. Because of Howard's approach to teaching us grueling rudiment exercises and teaching us how to read music at a very young age, there was rarely a drum competition that we did not take 1st or 2nd place.

I'll have you also note that in this time frame NOBODY was using kit accessories such as high hats and ride cymbals on stands which we implemented into the routine.

As Howard said, "There are no rules saying we cannot". Of course this is quite common today. He knew many people and was instrumental in bringing us Senior Corps members from the Hawthorne Caballeros to mentor us. That led me with a short stint with Hawthorne but I had to leave in 1976 because my family moved out of state.

I'm still playing drums today and had and still have a great career playing drums. I can tell you the instruction I received from Mr. Reiff made me have rock solid meter and dexterity in my wrists. He was a real stickler for correct snare form. If your elbows did not fall properly or one side was not even with the other he'd tie pillows around your torso so your arms would not collapse. This is really true.



Well, Paul, I am sorry to say that I confirmed today with Jim Ellis of Cooperman Drum Company that Mr. Reiff passed away a couple of years ago.

We did an article on him and his drums last year. See "From the Drum Collection of Howard Reiff", this blog, July 23, 2008. I understand from Jim Ellis of Cooperman Drum Company that the drums are available for purchase from "A Candle in the Night" in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Also, see Stormy Knights Guest Book Entries, guest book of the Stormy Knights Drum & Bugle Corps for an entry that mentions Howard Reiff as the Stormy Knights' original drum instructor:

Date: 1/4/2001 Fred Petrone
Subject: Our Lady of the Snows
Comments: or just plain "Snows" as we where known, way way back. Hello, to everyone who was a part of OLS Stormy Knights, especially those who made the transition from standstill to M&M. Here are a few people places and things that I can still remember. Howard Reiff - original drum line instructor. Freddy Zoeller - who came on board as the drum instructor when we went M&M. St. Josephs Brigade, a major competitor during the standstill years. Quartet competitions. Mr. D, chewing on his cigar, the "7 stroke roll", and our big fife, drum and G bugle hit: Stars and stripes Forever. Keep, keeping in touch, This is fun.

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