LAS VEGAS – A Joint Armed Forces Color Guard (JAFCG) and drummers from The United States Army Band provided clinics for students from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Friday as part of their trip to Nevada for the NFL's 2022 Pro Bowl.
“Every ceremonial mission outside of the National Capital Region is a unique opportunity for our service members to see different parts of the country. We always try to add outreach and educational visits with local schools and universities,” said Scott Little from the Ceremonies and Outreach Division, U.S. Army Military District of Washington. “These clinics and the students in them make a once-in-a lifetime experiences, like presenting the colors at the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, even more special for our team.”
The JAFCG met with UNLV Army and Air Force ROTC cadets on campus. The UNLV Army and Air Force ROTC Programs often conduct joint missions together for events like Memorial Day and Veterans Day. For the cadets, the day of training with the JAFCG was another chance to collaborate and to hone their skills with the guidance of the JAFCG.
“We’re grateful to host this team today. Ultimately, we want to improve our joint operations. We conduct joint color guards so this is an awesome opportunity to learn from these professionals,” said Capt. Jarquese Powell, the Executive Officer for the UNLV Army ROTC Program.
Powell describes his job as “extremely rewarding” as he sees the cadets grow and learn as they conduct missions and experience clinics like this one.
The service members reviewed basic drill and ceremony movements while holding their flags and rifles. They offered guidance on marching in step, making turns, and presenting the colors.
Sgt. Cameron Williams from the U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard emphasized the dedication required to achieve ceremonial excellence, “If you put the time, the effort, and the work in, you’re going to get better. I promise you.”
While Williams stressed to the cadets “sets and reps,” drummers with The U.S. Army Band were simultaneously underscoring the necessity for consistent practice with UNLV music students during a clinic at the UNLV Percussion Studio.
Staff Sgt. Michael Dillman and Staff Sgt. Brian Blume shared their experiences as military musicians and the opportunities available to serve both as a Soldier and as a professional musician. Prior to joining The U.S. Army Band, Dillman served as a member of The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps with the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). Blume and Dillman, who both have advanced music degrees, demonstrated some techniques, played along with the students and answered their questions.
“This is a great opportunity for our students,” said Dr. Timothy Jones, Associate Professor of Music in Percussion Studies and Coordinator of History of Rock at UNLV. “Some of our students have expressed an interest in auditioning for military bands. The chance to see the path they might one day take is tremendous. There can be misperceptions about military bands, but once they see it and hear directly from them, they understand that they are professional musicians and highly skilled drummers.”
Blume and Dillman walked the students through “Connecticut Halftime,” a traditional snare drum solo.
“To hear the drums and to feel the sound is different than just talking about it,” Jones said. “Hearing it directly from the source is essential and a huge part of why this clinic was so important.”
Jones felt the clinic was a good reminder for students that practice is essential and the character of a person is reflected in their ceremonial precision.
The Army Bands liaison for the West Coast, Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Lewis, was instrumental in coordinating the clinic.
“This clinic was crucial to provide students an awareness of the bands and the many opportunities available for musicians,” Lewis said.
The eleven service members from the National Capital Region will present the national colors during the national anthem of the NFL Pro Bowl at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday.
Members of the color guard are stationed at various units in the National Capital Region: U.S. Marine Corps Ceremonial and Guard Company, Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.; U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard, Navy District Washington, Washington, D.C.; U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard, Telecommunications Information Systems Command Center, Alexandria, Virginia; U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C.; the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.
The United States Army Band, also located on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, provides two drummers who accompany the colors and represent our connection to history when drummers accompanied the colors to keep troops in step, assist in ceremonial duties, and signal movements on the battlefield.