Fred Beckwith convinced the kids in his neighborhood to pretend they were marching in a drum and bugle corps in his back yard, until he was old enough to join a local group. His first real drum and bugle corps experience began in 1970 with Erie Thunderbirds, playing cymbals and tympani. In the following years he performed on xylophone and tympani with Erie Mavericks and 27th Lancers. He switched instruments in 1990 when he joined the Thunderbirds Alumni, playing mellophone. He also played mellophone with Dunkirk Exempts and Murray House, before joining Empire Statesmen in 1996. At various times, he has conducted drum clinics and band camps for 27th Lancers and drill design and color guard and rifle sessions for high school marching bands. He has been host of a radio jazz show, on station WQLN FM 91.3.