REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Since relocating to Redstone Arsenal in 2011, the U.S. Army Materiel Command's 389th Army Band has continually increased its community support and official military taskings throughout the local Huntsville community.
The mission of the AMC Band is to support the Chief of Staff of the Army's priorities and tell the Army story but to also give musicians valuable opportunities to spread the command's messaging, often achieved through community engagement events.
One of the band's main educational outreach goals for this year is to spread knowledge throughout the local community, said 1st Sgt. Daniel J. Shannon, AMC Band enlisted bandleader.
"It's a great feeling knowing we are making a difference in someone's life," Shannon said. "Whether we are playing for the units on base or mentoring students at a local high school, we are spreading our pride and knowledge of the music to the community."
So far this year, the AMC Band has taken part in several educational events, including musical mentoring at local high schools and performing for elementary and middle schools during visits.
One local school band director reached out to the AMC Band to help students prepare for an upcoming music festival, the Music Performance Assessment.
"It's always great to have professional ears for music," said Kelvin Benion, band director at Mae Jemison High School. "Sometimes the students need someone other than myself to point out some of the good and bad things of their playing."
The session began with a breathing exercise to warm up the students' voices. The Soldiers then joined the students in playing multiple pieces of music they play on a daily basis.
Students later broke out into groups to practice playing different pieces of music. Soldiers sat with the students during their sessions and helped them work through challenges with their specific instruments.
The mentoring was a great way to make the school band better, said Benion, who hopes to continue the partnership.
In recent months, the AMC Band has also mentored at other local schools.
In another educational outreach initiative, sixth graders from the Louis Pizitz Middle School, located in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, visited the AMC Band on Redstone Arsenal to speak with band members and view a performance.
AMC Band Commander Chief Warrant Officer 3 James M. Bettencourt welcomed the students and encouraged them to ask questions to the band members throughout their performances.
"A lot of [AMC Band members] were sitting exactly where you were when they were younger," said Bettencourt to the students. "Also, they were probably having some of your same thoughts as you are sitting and listening to the music."
The students were given an opportunity to listen to short performances by the AMC Band. Before each performance, Arsenal Brass Leader Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy S. Morrison explained how each musical selection relates and fits in with the military ceremonies.
Following questions and answers, Shannon wrapped up the event by telling the sixth graders that there would be difficult times ahead while playing, but to never give up.
"When you're playing challenging music and have difficulties, start listening to great music that will inspire you to keep going."
For more information on the Army Materiel Command Band, visit http://www.amc.army.mil/amc/band.html.