Afghan army, 10th Mountain Division make sweet music together
April 14, 2011
CAMP HERO, Afghanistan - In combat, one can expect to hear gunfire, yelling and the occasional explosion. On Camp Hero, a different sound can be heard - that of music.
The 10th Mountain Division Band and the 205th Hero Corps Band support the war effort by working together with music.
The partnership between the two bands is part of an effort to bring music back to Afghanistan. After the Russian invasion, music has been on a decline in Afghanistan to the point of being outlawed under Taliban rule.
Working together has afforded both bands an opportunity to forge new bonds and friendships. By working closely together, they get to know their counterparts on the other side. Americans teach about reading music and playing instruments, while the Afghans introduce classic patriotic music pieces of Afghanistan, and chai breaks.
"The American band is doing well with us, they are teaching us," said Mohammad Nader, who plays bass drum for the 205th Hero Corps Band. "I like them. They are helping us, and if we make any mistakes, they will tell us."
While music may seem like a universal language of sorts, in practical application, it presents challenges to teaching across multiple tongues.
"We've had to learn a lot of nonverbal communication with them, because musical terminology doesn't necessarily translate into other languages," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Timothy Wallace, band commander for 10th Mountain Division (LI). "Much of it is in Latin, so regardless, it's very difficult to translate. We use hand signals and body language to communicate."
The Hero Corps band recently received a set of new instruments to ensure their continued success and progression of music talent.
Band members are taught about caring for instruments, so they will play like new for years to come.
"The new instruments make our job easier," said Mohammed Nabi, a member of the Hero Corps band. "All our guys are so happy with the new instruments."
Above all, the partnership has given the Afghans a musical base to grow and expand on.
"From day one, we really didn't know what to expect on how much progress we would make with them, but we are absolutely thrilled," Wallace said. "We are about six months in with them. If they keep at the pace they are, they'll have an extremely solid foundation and they're going to have the tools they need to get better well after we're gone."