/ by Whitney Hayward

Glen Ward’s office is a closet in the basement of the Armory, filled with multi-tenors, snares and cream purple band uniforms, with barely enough room for the private lessons Ward gives (at no cost) to his students. Ward started teaching drums for the Parks and Recreation department of Columbia, Mo in the late 1990’s, in an effort he says, to make music assessable to those who would otherwise be unable.

In 2012, two of the nine drummers on his drum line were murdered. “These were kids who couldn’t look tough even if they tried.” Ward said. “It put iron in my words, so to speak. It was scary that I was down here, with the kids who were getting got, but I said that was what I wanted when I started this job.”

A new high school was built in 2013, which buses students in from the neighborhoods around the Armory. Older students are unable to make practices, and now Ward is left with only 4 students, two who are less than ten years old. Ward worries that his drum line isn’t reaching the same kids it used to, but is still instructing just as he did ten years ago--even if his younger students can only carry the drums for ten minutes at a time.

Glen Ward watches his two drum line students practice their resting marching positions at the last practice before the University of Missouri Homecoming parade, which they will march in. The homecoming parade will last for more than an hour, but because of their size and age, neither have been able to march with the drums for more than ten minutes.

Glen Ward watches his two drum line students practice their resting marching positions at the last practice before the University of Missouri Homecoming parade, which they will march in. The homecoming parade will last for more than an hour, but because of their size and age, neither have been able to march with the drums for more than ten minutes.

Lorenzo Estes, left, and Noah Cooley wait for Glen ward at the back of the Armory in Columbia, Mo, where they have drum line practice.  

Lorenzo Estes, left, and Noah Cooley wait for Glen ward at the back of the Armory in Columbia, Mo, where they have drum line practice.  

Glen Ward talks about Brian Rankin and Deondre Johnson, who were both on his drum line and fatally injured in separate instances in 2012.  

Glen Ward talks about Brian Rankin and Deondre Johnson, who were both on his drum line and fatally injured in separate instances in 2012.  

Axel Littlepage-Holmes wipes his eyes while trying on uniforms for the Columbia City-Wide drum line. Axel is the smallest and youngest on the drum line, and Ward didn't have pants that matched the uniform coat.

Axel Littlepage-Holmes wipes his eyes while trying on uniforms for the Columbia City-Wide drum line. Axel is the smallest and youngest on the drum line, and Ward didn't have pants that matched the uniform coat.

Noah Cooley's sleeves on his uniform come unrolled while practicing rolls with the drum line.  

Noah Cooley's sleeves on his uniform come unrolled while practicing rolls with the drum line.  

Jai'Keem Robinson-Hill, 2, plays the drumset during private lessons with Ward at the Armory in Columbia, Mo. The drum lessons Ward offers are at no cost to parents.  

Jai'Keem Robinson-Hill, 2, plays the drumset during private lessons with Ward at the Armory in Columbia, Mo. The drum lessons Ward offers are at no cost to parents.  

Carrying drums out to the van before a performance.  

Carrying drums out to the van before a performance.  

Axel Littlepage-Holmes tries on his full band uniform for the very first time before the University of Missouri Homecoming parade.  

Axel Littlepage-Holmes tries on his full band uniform for the very first time before the University of Missouri Homecoming parade.  

Before the homecoming parade.  

Before the homecoming parade.  

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Lorenzo Estes, left back, shows the youngest members of the Columbia City Wide Drum Line, Noah Cooley and Axel Littlepage-Holmes, how to do the rolls for their warmup, which both learned the week before.

Lorenzo Estes, left back, shows the youngest members of the Columbia City Wide Drum Line, Noah Cooley and Axel Littlepage-Holmes, how to do the rolls for their warmup, which both learned the week before.

Noah Cooley looks out the bus window to his first parade. "Are you nervous?" Lorenzo Estes, the oldest member of the drum line, asks Cooley. "No, I'm not nervous," Cooley responded. "I was nervous my first time. It's okay to be nervous," Estes said.

Noah Cooley looks out the bus window to his first parade. "Are you nervous?" Lorenzo Estes, the oldest member of the drum line, asks Cooley. "No, I'm not nervous," Cooley responded. "I was nervous my first time. It's okay to be nervous," Estes said.