Army Field Band offers musical mentorship to Reserve bandsmen
August 16, 2011
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J., Aug. 12, 2011 " “Breathe!”
It was the mantra of the day during a musical mentoring session held at the Maj. John P. Pryor Army Reserve Center Aug. 11 as part of the 99th Regional Support Command’s five-day training exercise, “Operation Checkerboard.”
Soldiers of five Army Reserve Bands were given the opportunity to learn from the premier touring musical representative for the United States Army, the Army Field Band, an elite, active-duty organization from Fort Meade, Md.
Eight Field Band members were on hand to offer their experiences, techniques and advice to the Reserve musicians in one-on-one and small-group sessions, the first such opportunity of its kind.
“The musicians from the Army Field Band, one of the special bands, have credibility " people really listen to them,” said Warrant Officer Eric Flowers, commander of the 78th Army Band from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. “They provide a fresh perspective and have the experience to back up what they say.”
The goal of the music clinic was to improve daily routines, focus on good practice habits and remember the fundamentals of playing, said Master Sgt. Daniel Sherlock, tuba section leader of the Field Band. The Reserve musicians were divided into groups based on their instrument class or by ensemble, while the Field Band musicians listened to and critiqued their performances. Some time was devoted to not only the technical aspects of playing, but also the entertainment aspect of performing, he said.
Sherlock stressed that while the overall guidance may not be revolutionary, it can be beneficial to hear it communicated in a new way and from a new person.
“All of my private instructors have insisted that I also learn with others,” he said. “They may be providing the same information, but it is said differently each time. You can never have too many teachers.”
The Field Band members also stressed breathing techniques, the element many Reserve band members found to be the most beneficial part of the training.
“For me, learning tips on proper breathing from the Field Band musicians was great, because it’s something you can sometimes forget about,” said Spc. Chris Hatcher, a tuba player in the 319th Army Band from Fort Totten, N.Y. “The tuba is a big instrument that requires a large air supply to play.”
Another focus was reflecting on what it means to be an Army musician, and remembering what the ultimate goal of an Army Band is: to provide music throughout the spectrum of military operations to instill in U.S. forces the will to fight and win, foster the support of the nation’s citizens, and promote national interests at home and abroad.
“They got me to really think about what I am doing and how I am doing it,” said Sgt. Jon Hale, a tuba player in the 94th Army Band from East Windsor, Conn. “You can’t just be a robot producing sound through a tuba. Creating music is just as much mental and emotional as it is physically making sound.”
While this was the mentorship opportunity between the Field Band and Reserve bands, Sherlock sees the value in exchanging ideas, techniques and styles and hopes it will continue.
“We have high quality musicians in the Army Reserve bands,” Sherlock said. “They are well-trained and have been eager to learn from our experiences. We are all musical ambassadors for the Army; it’s important that we share our knowledge with each other.”
Since its formation in March 1946, the Field Band has appeared in all 50 states and in more than 30 countries on four continents. The organization's four performing components " the Concert Band, the Soldiers’ Chorus, the Jazz Ambassadors, and The Volunteers " each travel over 100 days annually.
Tours include formal public concerts, school assemblies, educational outreach programs, festivals, and radio and television appearances.
The 78th, 94th, 198th, 319th and 380th Army Bands are a part of the 99th Regional Support Command. The 99th RSC acts as a “virtual installation” that provides world-class Base Operations support to over 50,000 Army Reserve Soldiers, 400 units and 300 facilities for the entire Northeast Region from Maine to Virginia for the Army Reserve in order to give our Warrior-Citizens and their Families the finest care, support, services and training.
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