ANCHORAGE - U.S. Army Alaska's 9th Army Band often serves as a liaison between the military and the community, using music to tell the Army's story.

Members of the band told that story and shared their music with students from the East High School Band here Feb. 25 through a program called Music in Our Schools.

Through the nationwide program, Army bands visit schools to perform and to promote music education and appreciation, according to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeffrey Price, the band's commander.

"We were all encouraged by our music teachers, encouraged while at school to love music," Price said. "That's why we do what we do now."

Soldiers started the morning off with a surprise performance from their new pupils - a rare opportunity for the Soldier-musicians to sit back, relax and enjoy a musical piece being played for them.

"Play more," Price said. "Keep going - my ears are just tickling from the music."

After the students' final piece, it was time for 9th Army band members to join in for the next performance and provide mentorship to students with like instruments.

With the combined performance, students were able to get a real feel for how the professionals play.

The interaction proved to be very positive for one East High School student and band member.

"I had so much fun playing alongside the 9th Army Band, said Deven Inch, 16-year-old percussion player for the East High School Band and Orchestra. "The band director was very energetic. He kept us on our feet the whole way."

Before they began, Price told some jokes to relax the young musicians, encouraged them and gave them some professional advice.

"Music is about focus, motivation and athleticism," Price told the students. "You have to practice, practice and practice some more."

East High School Band Director Ericka Ninoyu watched her students as they absorbed what Price was telling them.

"We are very grateful for this opportunity," said Ericka Ninoyu, East High School Band Director. "The students are so excited and a little bit nervous. It is just amazing that they were able to come and do this for the students."

School visits are a particular interest for U.S. Army Alaska, according to Price, as it gives the command a chance to showcase the unique training and capabilities of the 9th Army Band.

It also gives the Soldiers a unique professional development opportunity, he noted, because they're able to work with an age group they are not accustomed to instructing.