By Trish Muntean (Fort Wainwright Public AffairsMarch 25, 2010
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Soldiers from the 9th Army Band took their show on the road in support of "Music In Our Schools Month" this month.
The Arctic Warrior Band has 40 members who are instrumentalists, although some of the Soldiers also sing. The band provides music in support of the military mission and also does community outreach by performing in various venues outside the gate.
MIOSM is an initiative started in 1973 by The National Association for Music Education. It is a month-long event that stresses the importance of quality music education in our schools.
"Music In Our Schools Month is really important because music education is dying in this country.It is one of the first programs that is cut," said Sgt. Ehrin Anthony. "It is really sad, because artistic expression is one of those things that gives us individuality."
Musicians from the "Jammin' Salmon Dixieland Band" and the "Denali Brass Quintet" visited 14 elementary schools in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District during the month of March. The "Arctic Groove Orchestra" visited Delta Junction High School to perform for middle and high school students.
"I think that 'Music In Our Schools Month' is probably the single most important community outreach event that the Army band does, " said Sgt Daniel Puls, who played the clarinet and provided vocals as part of the Dixieland Band during a visit to Anne Wien Elementary School.
"Music is very important to education, as you can see. It can get you very far in life... We like to come out and share with kids, maybe get them enthusiastic about music and maybe as they get older, we can inspire them to pursue an artistic career like us," said Staff Sgt Vincent Lawyer.
Puls said it is his favorite performance of the year. "The kids really get into the music. I know they're a captive audience, but there is still an energy there that is really fun to play off of. It seems everyone is really appreciative."
Musical selections included songs like "Rubber Ducky", made popular by Sesame Street. Some children and teachers sang along. "Banana Phone" performed by Puls had the younger children laughing at his antics. The theme song from "Hee-Haw" was too old to be familiar to most of the audience, but had everyone laughing as the band clowned around.
The music played was selected because it was "kid friendly stuff that the kids would recognize and that's a good way to motivate them to want to play music," said Staff Sgt Travis Anderson.
"It's our favorite thing to do all year. It's two weeks of straight playing. It's great for us and what we joined the Army to do," Lawyer said.
It appeared that the children and teachers enjoyed it as much as the musicians did.