77th U.S. Army Band rocks local schools
March 1, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla. -- Shrieking with joy, students at Eisenhower Elementary School just couldn't stand still. Moved by the sounds from the stage they expressed themselves to the 77th U. S. Army Band's rock tunes Feb. 23 for the Music in the Schools program.
This was one of many concerts the 77th Army Band's rock and Latin bands performed during February. Traveling to more than 30 schools in the area, including Duncan and Cache schools, they brought lively musical education front and center to elementary students.
"The kids were digging it from start to finish. Even though we told them to sit down they kept getting up. Any time that happens that's a win-win," said Sgt. Michael Blue, trombonist and Rock Band vocalist.
Fifth graders Keelan Haygood, Mikel Carpitcher and Kristen Farmer exploded with comments about the concert. From 'I loved it,' to 'it was awesome' the three agreed it was a great performance and something they enjoyed.
Haygood said he had seen Junior ROTC students before, but this was the only combination of Soldiers and music he had experienced.
"It's a positive experience for the students to get music in their lives and see what different kinds of music there are - it's not just sitting down and learning how to play the same three notes over and over. It's not the recorder. They can go a long way with it and it can be a lot of fun," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Franz.
This is the third year of the Music in the Schools program. It started as a national designation similar to Secretary's Day and the band sent out a brass quintet and a Dixieland ensemble to six or seven schools.
The response was positive so it grew the next year with both the Latin and rock band garnering an even bigger response.
The show kicked off with Blue belting out Montell Jordan's "This is How We Do It," and yes, the lyrics were altered to make it appropriate for young ears.
"The key to putting on a good show is, believe it or not, it's not so much the music as it is the energy you give," said Blue.
The band gave energy and the crowd had energy to spare as they continued to play "Lazy Day," "Party Rock Anthem" and "Cupid Shuffle."
The students didn't slow a bit and went into a frenzy at the unexpected mix from Costello's Own, a group of bagpipers at Fort Sill, who combined the classic Scottish sound with the rock band's beat.
"I think Music in the Schools does a few things. It breaks the monotony of school for them, they get a chance to kind of cut loose a little bit in a controlled environment and have some fun, and it's something they don't always get to see. They don't always have musicians come in and play for them like that and especially military musicians," said Sgt. Robert Lawson, trombonist and Rock Band vocalist.
Normally, the Army musicians would only play during February, but they have extended their concerts until the end of March and even some in May.
"I hope to keep it going. It's an opportune time of year to get out in the Lawton community especially and show them what the military is about," said Franz. "We're part of the community, live within the community, contribute to the community and a lot of times as close as Lawton and Fort Sill are I believe people in Lawton don't work with or understand the military in a lot of ways, so it's a positive experience for everyone."