Each year, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band kicks off the holiday season with a festive performance for Advanced Individual Training Soldiers. Despite difficulties 2020 has presented, the TRADOC Band successfully completed its mission once again by making a joyful noise on the virtual stage.
Continuing the tradition of spreading holiday cheer through music is at an all-time high priority, one that even a curveball like the novel coronavirus couldn't combat. The band leveraged technology, called on members to share little-known talents, and coordinated with installation multimedia to produce a spectacular virtual concert.
Shared with a wide audience, on the TRADOC website’s “Watch” page, this showcase featured classic holiday songs that illuminated screens with joy and nostalgia. The TRADOC Band set list included “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town,” “Feliz Navidad,” and “Run Run Rudolph,” along with several others that made this show a treat for all viewers.
Lead vocalist, Staff Sgt. Lewis Johnson, hopes this show sparked a sense of normalcy for their audience during a very abnormal time.
“When performing, I try remember how I felt back in my days in the field, wondering how I was going to get home for the holidays,” Johnson continued. “My hope is that the AIT Soldiers watching get a sense of normalcy where they can pretend they are home watching a holiday show and it brings some happiness.”
Sgt. Adam Mendelson, music performance team leader for the TRADOC Rock Band, says this holiday show is the outcome of collaborative effort, where communication and hard work came together to create a production that could make a positive impact.
“Throughout this process, communication has been a key component to make the show succeed,” he said. “Relaying the message from leadership to the support team and musicians as soon as possible helped establish transparency from all levels. With individual musicians rising up to the task to manage with the audio, visual, and external production services, we were able to really pull our resources together and create a real experience for our audience.”
Like many other members of the TRADOC Band, Mendelson, held several roles in creating a seamless, entertaining show for the audience. From managing personnel for rehearsals, performing as the drummer, and producing arrangements of songs, Mendelson knows the importance of adapting and continuing to engage with the audience, even in a virtual capacity.
“It is important to give the performance everything you’ve got to entertain the people watching,” he said. “The most powerful way we can connect is to reveal ourselves and let our individual personality come through on camera the entire performance.”
Johnson, a horn player by trade, stepped up to the challenge to lead the vocals for this year’s performance. He said he enjoyed seeing the band pull individual talents together to make the commander’s vision for this holiday show a reality.
“In my capacity, I’ve been able to step into a larger role to become a front man of the group but there are numerous other team members who are doing more than their normal role as well,” Johnson stated. “We have people who provided vocals that normally don’t and are playing musical styles that they are not immediately familiar with. It’s been inspiring to see our team rise to the occasion.”
TRADOC Band Sgt. Maj. Terrina Anderson is impressed with the teamwork of band members and their commitment to work through any challenges that came up.
“It's been awesome to see how the band planned for contingencies and adapted to changing circumstances,” said Anderson. “We tend to be more sensitive to the idea of alternatives in the winter time and this year with adding COVID-19 on top of that, it has been the greatest thing to witness how this team prepared and really adapted the mission.
“Our goal was to provide an escape for our audience through holiday music,” Mendelson said. “We wanted to give them a few minutes to forget about what is going on in the world and give them some sense of peace and stillness. I think we achieved that.”
For more holiday content from the TRADOC Band and to stay up to date with all of their upcoming events, check out their Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/TRADOCBand.