MILTON — Chris Emery jokes that two years ago he and his brother, Vincent Emery III, were “horrible” musicians.
“We were bad,” Chris said. “Two years of practicing, we’re pretty good.”
“Pretty good” is an understatement for the modest twin brothers, who are part of an elite drum and bugle corps.
The Emery brothers are 16-year-old students in 10th grade at the Warrior Run High School. They maintain busy schedules as members of the White Sabers Drum and Bugle Corps, and work to maintain their top-20 standings in their high school class.
The twins started participating in band in fifth grade. Two years ago, they started taking lessons from Marc Garside, of EPIC Percussion of Williamsport.
The brothers said Garside is also a lead percussionist with the White Sabers. He invited the twins to attend a drum corps practice sessions.
“We were hooked,” Chris said.
Although the two wanted to join the group, it wasn’t that easy. Each year, the Emerys said the corps’ approximately 140 members must audition to be included in the group.
The twins are entering their second year as members. Chris plays a bass drum, Vincent a vibraphone.
The commitment members of the White Sabers must make to the group is impressive. Nearly every weekend, members travel to Dansville, N.Y., for practice. The brothers said that’s about three hours north of Williamsport.
“You have to have a legitimate excuse not to practice,” Chris said. “We go to Dansville almost every weekend.”
“It’s fun to do,” Vincent added. “It’s a good experience.”
The twins are among the youngest members of the corps, as they noted most are college age. Several members are from the Williamsport area, and most come from a wide geographic area.
“We are the (members from) the furthest south,” Chris said. “There were kids last year from Canada (who were members).”
In addition to the weekly practices, this year the White Sabers will participate in eight parade weekends and approximately 10 competition shows.
The Emerys are looking forward to June 23-24, when the White Sabers will be participating in a show being held at the Milton Area High School’s Alumni Field.
Last year, they marched with the White Sabers in Milton’s bicentennial parade.
“That was so cool,” Chris said. “We had friends and family come out to watch us.”
In addition to committing to the practices, parades and shows, members of the group must also pay a $500 tuition fee to participate.
Vincent said that covers the cost of rehearsal locations the corps must rent and transportation fees associated with traveling to the parades and competitions.
To help raise their funds to participate, the Emerys are holding a stuffed pork chop dinner from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at the St. Joseph Parish Center, Cemetery Road, Milton.
The Emerys said several other members of the White Sabers from the Williamsport area will also be helping with the dinner. All members who participate will divide the proceeds to help cover their tuition fees.
The cost to attend the dinner will be $11.
The Emerys attend St. Joseph Catholic Church. Their father, Vincent Emery Jr., said members of the church will be helping with the dinner.
“Some of the members of the church are donating desserts,” he added.
The brothers said they are “really thankful” for the members of the church who will be helping with the fundraiser.
Vincent Jr. said he and his wife Alicia are proud of their son’s accomplishments since joining the drum corps.
“It’s amazing how they’ve grown,” he said. “Just watching them, what they’re able to play now, is astonishing.”
In addition to keeping up with their studies and traveling to EPIC Percussion nearly daily for lessons, the brothers are also involved in musical activities in school. Vincent is a member of the band, while Chris is in choir.
Chris was named the White Sabers’ Most Improved Percussionist last year.
The Emery brothers are not yet sure of their post-high school plans, but said music will likely be involved. Chris also has an interest in the science field.
Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email email@example.com.