Soldier musician mentors high school marching band
By CourtesyOctober 17, 2019
Story and photos by Michelle Cowart
Fort Stewart MWRIt is a normal occurrence to see and hear the Bradwell Institute Marching Tiger Band on their track field rehearsing into the evening hours, most weeknights during the months of August through October. What has also become a regular part of this scene is the presence of Sgt. Jamal Walker, a member of the 3rd Infantry Division Band, as he works alongside the band directors in leading and instructing the students.For the past year and a half, Walker has been working with the percussion section after being contacted by the BI band director, Aubrey Simmons."We were connected via a mutual band director friend and fraternity brother. I received his contact information and reached out to him. Shortly thereafter, he became our percussion instructor," Simmons said.
Walker's goals and intentions aim to guide the student musicians to think about their future and how music can be a part of it."My goal with the kids is to get all of them into a college marching band, to build their skills and to help them realize that they can go to school on a scholarship for music and get money to go to school for playing an instrument if they are good at it," Walker said. "I also mentor some of them. I take some of them to the gym and work out with them. Some want to get in shape and some want to join the military. Others want to join the military band, so I'm like a role model, advisor, mentor and fitness partner for a lot of them."When asked what he gets out of it, Walker smiled."The satisfaction of knowing that I'm passing on a legacy of music to the kids," Walker said. "To see that they're happy makes me happy. To see that they're actually growing and becoming better individuals and musicians is pretty cool. You might see someone walk into band their first day and they're kind of timid, like one particular student in percussion last year. At first she was very timid just playing auxiliary. She wouldn't even march down the street because didn't think she could do it. Now she's a section leader, in front of everybody playing, leading and out of her shell."Simmons agrees Walker has made a lasting difference in the students.
"He has had an amazing impact on the band's percussion section," Simmons said. "That section has developed a new and more mature sound and he helps them learn how to get along with each other. He has also shown them what it takes to complete goals. Just last May, he finished his music degree while serving our great country. Sgt. Walker has been nothing but a great addition to our band staff and family."
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