Phoenix Phlyers to take flight


The Crow River Drumline Association made history on Sunday when it voted to launch Phoenix Phlyers, a new drumline for students and young people with special needs.

“This is the first in the Midwest, and to our knowledge, only the third drumline in the world that caters to individuals with special needs,” said Richie Kuttner, president of the drumline association. “It will be open to middle school students through age 21. It may expand in the future to no age limit whatsoever.”

To introduce the program, an information meeting and orientation will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, at the National Guard Armory, 1200 Adams St. S.E., Hutchinson.

The idea for the drumline was sparked earlier this year when Phoenix Drumline competed in April at the Winter Guard International World Championships in Dayton, Ohio.

“We saw the FREE Players Drumline, (a special needs performance ensemble from New York), which was the first drumline of this kind,” Kuttner said. “To say it was inspirational would be the understatement of the year.”

After the performance, Phoenix director TJ Larum, who is a childhood behavioral therapist, and Kuttner, who had worked for four years at Aveyron Homes in Hutchinson, talked.

“He came to me and asked what I thought about forming a drumline and I didn’t think of it for two seconds,” Kuttner said. “We brought it to the CRDA (Crow River Drumline Association) Board and parent group and they loved the idea.”

After the vote on Sunday, Kuttner announced the decision on Facebook: “… The Phoenix Phylers is a reality!”

“I think I can speak for TJ when we say the CRDA is beyond words excited,” Kuttner said.

For more information, email Kuttner at, or visit

Richard Kuttner.

Phoenix Phlyers information meeting

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5

Where: National Guard Armory, 1200 Adams St. S.E., Hutchinson

Admission: Free and the public is welcome

More about Phoenix Drumline

Phoenix Drumline participated in its first competitive season in January 1994. In February 1994, it hosted its first local competition, Distant Drums.

The Phoenix Drumline program consists of two sections or seasons: a summer marching unit and a winter competitive unit. The drumline is managed by the Crow River Drumline Association, a member of the Minnesota Percussion Association, the governing body of competitive drumline activity in Minnesota.

The Hutchinson-area percussion program is open to students in grades 7 through 12. No experience is required other than a willingness to learn to play an instrument — options include snare, tenor and bass drums, cymbals, xylophone, marimba and the vibraphone — and attend practices as required.

For more information, visit

Photo by Doug Hanneman for National Gaurd Armory was filled with the sounds of beating drums in March 2015 during Phoenix Drumlin’s weekly rehearsal. Working with the members was T.J. Larum, director/instructor of the drumline.

TJ Larum

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