The first contact…
This is the story of a little drummer boy, born on May 10th, 1951.
Everything began around 1957 or 58, when a street band was playing on the same street as the Schetagne family lived in Pointe-Claire.
A young boy, then aged 6 or 7, was staring at it and when the musicians passed him by, he felt like he was hypnotized by the drum section.
He decided to follow them, without realizing that he was getting further away from his house. It’s only at the end of the parade that he snapped out of it and realized that he was completely lost.
He thinks he’s in another town and then, finally, someone recognizes him and brings him home…
It’s only in 1960 that he would be able to see another drum line parading and that he knew now it was love at first sight. The drum and bugle corps of the parish of St. Nazaire, in Ville Lasalle, will be the first group to welcome Gilles.
But the experience didn’t last long because Gilles was very indisciplined after the hours of band practice. Yes, you guessed it, this little boy was me: Gilles Schetagne.
Practices were held in the basement of St Nazaire’s school. One evening, when there had to be a parent meeting on the top floor of the school, the basement served as cloakroom.
There were clothes and boots everywhere in the room. During the resting period began a game of throw and catch. Imagine, more than forty children having fun throwing boots from one side to the other in the basement.
That was my last practice. I do not remember having made a single public appearance with this group. It was a great disappointment to me.
It is only in high school, in 1963, that another opportunity arose to hit the drum. The Concert band of Lasalle Secondary School, led by the late Jacques Laurendeau, also had a drum corps. It was the perfect opportunity to take the drumsticks. Then a friend (Claude Joyal) was watching me practice through the window one day and told his brother André Joyal I had good potential as a drummer.
He invited me to join the Cheerleaders of Ste-Catherine Labourée, who had some musicians to accompany them during the parades. But this was not enough, I needed a drum set for myself. With some savings I made with the delivery of grocery orders (on bicycle) and a patron (Gerald Ste-Marie), I purchased my first drum kit.
It was an Olympic. I sold it a few years later to Claude Joyal, which he used to make small dressers.
Yep! I still had the opportunity to make my first shows at the Lasalle Cavelier school with Jean-Claude Robillard, a trombone player at the time.
In 1964, André Joyal introduced me to the Olympics of Verdun and that’s where I learned the standard American and Swiss rudiments.
My first teachers were Carl Courteau, Rock DeSerres, Jacques Martin, René Rockbrune and Raymond Houde. I stayed there until 1968.
When the Olympics ceased their activities, I went to join my good friend Hughes Dumas in “Les Métropolitains” for a few months … Again because of indiscipline, I had to leave before the end of the season.