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Ripken record inspires students to practice music


Instrumental music students at Spring Garden are trying to tie world record -- the Cal Ripken world record, that is -- but in their own way. Each has taken a challenge to practice their musical instrument one minute for each consecutive game that Cal Ripken has played. That's 2,131 minutes, or 35 hours and 31 minutes.

"We kicked off Friday afternoon," said Karen Rogers, instrumental music teacher. "I introduced this idea to my fifth-grade group, which is beginning their second year [with an instrument]. I have about 50 students, and they are so excited about this, it took 15 minutes [to answer questions]. They thought it was so neat.

"I'm hoping to reward the winners with Orioles memorabilia," she added. "I'm making the first person to do this the 'Hero of the Day' at Spring Garden."

Children beginning an instrument usually practice 20 minutes at home every other day. School rehearsals and lessons are an extra 90 minutes per week that won't count for this challenge.

"I'm sure that some won't be able to do it. We'd like to see if someone can reach [2,131 minutes] by January," Mrs. Rogers said.

Fourth-grade students will begin instrumental lessons next Friday. "I'll probably give them this opportunity in October," Mrs. Rogers said.

Jan. 1 is 122 days from the start of the Cal Ripken challenge. That's about 18 minutes per day of practice. Daily practice, Cal Ripken style.

4 Information: Spring Garden Elementary, 751-3431.


Donna Fritzges first twirled a baton down Main Street in Hampstead almost 30 years ago. She had no notion that she one day would lead the next generation of twirlers through North Carroll parades.

Since June, Mrs. Fritzges, who's lived in Hampstead for 18 years, has helped dozens of girls ages 4 through 25 years twirl the baton, this time as a majorette instructor for the Carrollettes, a majorette and drum corps affiliated with Manchester Fire Company that has paraded in the area for 23 years.

"I remember marching in Hampstead," said Mrs. Fritzges about her 13 years as twirler with The Woodlawnettes. "When you came up Main Street, it was lined with people. The Hampstead parade was a long parade. I still have all my medals from Hampstead and Manchester [parades] and now I live here. It's a neat feeling."

The Woodlawnettes, she said, was a corps of 15 drummers, 10 color guard, 20 senior-level twirlers, 25 at junior level, a tot corps of about 35, and 25 tinys. "We called them the majorettes of the future," she said.

"We marched in two or three parades a week," she said. "In the '60s and '70s, parades were two hours long, not just a block or two; Glen Burnie was three miles. We opened our season with Memorial Day at Woodlawn Cemetery with the Knights of Columbus and Veterans of Foreign Wars. We were there, not as a performing group but to show respect.

"Every year on Halloween, Hagerstown would have a locally televised parade with majorettes, high school bands, drum and bugle corps," she recalled. "One year we marched [there] in ice. That's how you knew it was the end of your marching season."

As a girl, Mrs. Fritzges studied baton twirling with Nick Trott of the original Baltimore Colts Marching Band, and later with "Miss June," a woman who taught many Woodlawnettes. What and how these teachers taught, she says, is what she's passing on to the Carrollettes.

"One thing that makes a really good instructor, is when you go to practice, you give the girls all of your knowledge and you bring forth from the girl what they have inside. And you keep your perspective when you walk away. You're not getting into the personal but how much each one can accomplish," she said.

Those interested in becoming part of the Carrollettes may attend rehearsals at North Carroll Middle School Mondays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Registration continues through October. Besides twirlers, the corps includes banner carriers, a color guard and drummers.

Information: Rich Troutman, 239-2061.

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