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Raphael R. Triay
Marine Band Director / Leader / Drum Major Raphael R. Triay.

Raphael R. Triay was born in Minorca, an island off the coast of Spain. He enlisted in the Marine Corps as the ninth Marine Band Leader/Drum Major on Dec. 10, 1836, and served until May 22, 1843. He reenlisted July 8, 1848, as the band’s 13th Leader/Drum Major and served until his death on Sept. 9, 1855.

Triay’s son Epifanio enlisted in the Marine Corps in Oct. 1851 and in May 1852 was indentured in the Music Boys apprentice program to his father for a period of 13 years.

Music Boys

The following excerpts are from David M. Sullivan’s "The United States Marine Corps in the Civil War—The Second Year":The Marine Corps, in order to ensure a steady supply of field musicians, was a practitioner of the apprenticeship system. Boys enlisting to become fifers and drummers were bound by a contract of indenture until they were twenty-one years old. They learned their skills under the strict supervision of the drum major, who, by the terms of the contract, took the role of “master.” Their classroom was the parade ground at Marine Barracks, Washington. After a training period of anywhere from a few months up to a year, they were rated “drummer” or “fifer,” and assigned to duty at one of the posts of the Corps or shipped out with a guard of Marines going to sea.

When hostilities began, the School for Music Boys at the Washington Barracks consisted of twelve fledgling drummers and fifers…Once the boys were taught the basics of the fife and drum, training in the calls that would be required once they were posted to duty began. Among the many calls that Musics were expected to become proficient in were: reveille, guard, muster, mess, liberty, general quarters, morning and evening colors, retreat, and tattoo.

In addition to their musical training, the boys received formal classroom schooling.

The School for Music Boys lasted from the early to mid-1850s to the early 1900s. Many of the apprentices joined the Marine Band upon completion of their contract. Several graduates include 15th Drum Major John Roach, 20th Drum Major James Culleton, and 17th Director John Philip Sousa.