Learn About

THE BDF BAND

The Barbados Defence Force (BDF) Band is a military band that places a strong emphasis on national duty and community service. The musicians are mainly reserve soldiers and range in ages between 18 to 50 years old. The band performs several styles of music from light classics and gospel selections to the very latest Barbadian calypso and the current Director of Music is Lieutenant Brian Cole.

The history of the Barbados Defence Force band can be traced to the West India Regiment era.   When the West India Regiment was disbanded in 1927, the Band and Drums were retained and provided the foundation for the evolution of military bands in the Caribbean, particularly in Jamaica and Barbados.

A Corps of   Drums remained active in the Barbados Volunteer Force and the Barbados Regiment and in 1973 a full band was raised which remained active until 1978. The Band and Drums of the Barbados Regiment were fully resuscitated in 1987 for the occasion of the Trooping the Colour parade and remained active until the early nineties. After a brief hiatus, the band was again revived as the Barbados Defence Force Band and in 1999 a substantial investment in recruiting and new equipment facilitated their outstanding performance at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The Band’s nickname – the Zouave Band – derives from the colourful Zouave uniform worn by the band on Ceremonial Occasions. The story often told is that Her Majesty Queen Victoria saw the uniform worn by French Colonial troops of the Zouaoua tribe in Algeria and was struck by the beauty of the uniform and reports of their courageous fighting. The Queen commanded the British army to adopt the uniform for one of her regiments and the honour was conferred on the West India Regiment, which was serving at that time with distinction in Africa.

The uniform was first paraded in Barbados in 1858 and subsequently adopted by the Band and Drums of the Barbados Regiment and the Barbados Defence Force Band as a symbolic link with the old West India Regiment. The uniform is also worn by the Jamaica Military Band.

Command Element

Director of Music

Lieutenant Brian Cole

Brian Cole began his interest in music as a member of the Barbados Boy Scouts Association Corps of Drums in the late 80’s under the instruction of Mr. Terry Benn. When the decision was made to add wind instruments towards the development of a Barbados Boy Scouts Association Band, he embraced the opportunity to learn the Alto Saxophone, guided by Mr. Trevor Peterson. This led to performance opportunities, in his last two years at the Louis Lynch Secondary School, regularly at school functions and to Mr. Pernell Farley, music teacher at the St. Leonard’s Boys School, with whom Brian received his first formal period of music instruction
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Lieutenant Brian Cole

Brian Cole began his interest in music as a member of the Barbados Boy Scouts Association Corps of Drums in the late 80’s under the instruction of Mr. Terry Benn. When the decision was made to add wind instruments towards the development of a Barbados Boy Scouts Association Band, he embraced the opportunity to learn the Alto Saxophone, guided by Mr. Trevor Peterson. This led to performance opportunities, in his last two years at the Louis Lynch Secondary School, regularly at school functions and to Mr. Pernell Farley, music teacher at the St. Leonard’s Boys School, with whom Brian received his first formal period of music instruction. He joined the Barbados Youth Orchestra and has fond memories of Mrs. Geraldine Archer, the then Director of Music, who impressed strong ethics of dedication to quality musicianship in a then young student musician.

In 1993 he joined the ranks of the Barbados Defence Force Band and under then Bandmaster Warrant Officer Class 1 Rodney Beckles where his love for military band music grew. Brian began to practice the clarinet and, inspired by Warrant Officer Class 1 Beckles, the late Captain Roy Corbin and then Lieutenant Alfred Taylor, developed an interest in conducting, arranging and composing.

Brian read for the Associate in Applied Arts (Music) at the Barbados Community College in 2003, where Mr. Roger Gittens, Mr. David Weatherhead and Mr. Andre Woodvine, amongst many other tutors, heavily impacted the direction of his musical development. He has also read for a Bachelor of Science (Music) from Herbert H. Lehman College (City Universities of New York) and a Master of Music in Music Education from Boston University. In keeping with his development as a military band musician in 2002 the command of the Barbados Defence Force facilitated his attendance to the Royal Military School of Music (Kneller Hall, United Kingdom) where he successfully completed the Band Sergeant Course.

Brian has also served 15 years as a music educator at the Christ Church Foundation School. It is here, under the guidance of mentor, colleague and friend Dr. Yvette Mayers, that he honed his skills as an educator and administrator. Brian fervently believes in the intrinsic and extrinsic values of music and views his time at the school as one of the most impactful periods of his life thus far. At the end of his tenure he was a trained graduate teacher reading for the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Teaching of Music) in 2013.

Brian has served in many capacities in the Barbados Defence Force Band, the last of which was Bandmaster. He considers himself very fortunate and blessed to have been mentored by the Directors of Music and/or Bandmaster who he served under and thanks them for the trust they placed in him. He hopes his service has and continues to be a testament to God’s favour in his life and an honour to the time invested in him by too many persons to mention.

In February 2018 he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Barbados Defence Force Reserves. In a ceremony on the lawn of the historic Barbados Defence Force Officers’ Mess on Saturday 10 March 2018 he was appointed Director of Music, with subordinate command for the Barbados Defence Force Band being handed over to him by the immediate past Director of Music Major Alfred Taylor.