2012-08-24 / People

Tuba player goes on tour of a lifetime

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer


Calvin Stanly joked the antics of the Boston Crusaders tuba section kept him sane while carrying around a 38-pound instrument all day. Here the section poses for a photo at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., the final stop of the group’s summer tour. (courtesy photo) Calvin Stanly joked the antics of the Boston Crusaders tuba section kept him sane while carrying around a 38-pound instrument all day. Here the section poses for a photo at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., the final stop of the group’s summer tour. (courtesy photo) When Craig Scott, assistant director of the South Portland High School Marching Band, suggested Calvin Stanly join the Boston Crusaders, the tuba player was hesitant.

Stanly said he had plans to travel this summer, but Scott pushed him to submit an audition video for the prestigious drum and bugle corps in February. Weeks later, Stanly was accepted. He headed out to California in June, and returned to Maine in mid-August.

In between, Stanly performed in 34 shows in 32 cities with the Boston Crusaders from Sacramento, Calif. to Lawrence, Mass., and the 16-year-old traveled more in two months than most adults have in their lives.


Calvin Stanly Calvin Stanly “My favorite place to rehearse was probably Oregon,” Stanly said.

The Boston Crusaders played in Medford and Hillsboro, Ore. on consecutive nights in June.

“We all got set up and it was just us tubas all in a big arc. We could see the mountains and the sun was just setting, the trees just off to the side. It was just awesome. It was really cool,” Stanly said.

But Stanly didn’t get too much time to sightsee in his trip across the country. He said when he arrived for “move-ins” in California in June, a normal day started for him at 8 a.m. and didn’t end until nearly midnight. That time was spent almost exclusively practicing and preparing for shows, with an hour set aside for each meal, some free time before bed to shower, and occasional short water breaks. Very short.

“The water breaks are crazy. Literally, they’ll say get water, and you just go run to get your water jug and take a few sips. They told me to chug as much as I could in seven seconds and then get back on the field,” Stanly said.

Once the shows started, the days weren’t quite as work-intensive. But the Boston Crusaders did have to take long bus trips through the night and the early morning hours, sometimes arriving as late, or as early, as 5 or 6 a.m. in the next city they’re set to perform.

And the shows aren’t exactly easy for a tuba player either. Stanly said his instrument weighed nearly 38 pounds, and he was carrying it outside in the sun at rehearsals and shows in cities like Round Rock, Tex., and Murfreesboro, Tenn. in the middle of July.

But Stanly said the honor of playing with a 72-year-old drum and bugle corps, as well as the connections he made with other members of the group, especially his fellow tuba players, made the hard work worth it.

“(The tuba players) were awesome, cause they were all just really goofy and funny. They just do the craziest stuff and that’s basically what keeps you sane when you’re carrying that instrument around all day,” Stanly said.

Stanly was the third-youngest brass player in the Boston Crusaders this year, he said. Members range in age but average about 19. And he was the only member of this year’s group from Maine. Despite the Boston Crusaders name, he said he only knew one member from the Boston area. The members of the group came from all over, Stanly said: Florida, Texas, New York, Tennessee, even one from London and one from Japan.

At the Boston Crusaders’ show in Massachusetts, alumni treated the corps to a meal of lobster and steak. Stanly said he had to show his bandmates from Florida how to eat the lobster.

The day after that show, the Boston Crusaders performed the national anthem at Fenway Park. Although the group didn’t get to stay for the game against the Minnesota Twins (they had another city to travel to), Stanly said he’s happy to say he played at the famous baseball stadium. He also got to see some Major League players up close. Former American League Most Valuable Player Joe Mauer warmed up right in front of him while the Crusaders waited in the tunnel.

Stanly started playing the tuba in the seventh grade. He is quick to thank his middle school music teacher, Mrs. Quinn, who introduced him to the tuba, as well as Scott and Craig Skeffington, the high school marching band directors, who pushed Stanly to where he is from being “the worst person on the field” his first year in the band.

“I couldn’t have done any of this without all of them,” Stanly said.

Stanly is not sure he wants to pursue music as a college major or a career after he graduates in 2014. He said he would love to make money playing drums, as he does in church every Sunday, but he’s also considering a career as a neurosurgeon.

“That’s just because I figure someone’s got to do it. Not many people would probably like working with that kind of stuff,” Stanly said.

Some 16-year-olds might be daunted by the idea of the demanding, stressful and intense work of brain surgery when they grow up. But after carrying a 38-pound tuba for seven hours a day in 100-degree summer Texas heat, how hard can it be?

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