By Trish Muntean, Fort Wainwright PAOMarch 10, 2011
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - The 9th Army Band is taking their show on the road during the month of March, but most of their performances will not be for the Soldiers they usually serve, but for the youngest members of the community in honor of Music in our Schools Month.
Kathie Cook, principal of Ladd Elementary School was happy to host the entire band March 2.
"It was great for everyone who has a parent in the Army, which is about 80 to 85 percent of our kids, because they see all the different jobs in the Army and it makes us all so proud of what everybody does," she said.
Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Price, the commander of the 9th Army Band, says the Music in our Schools program is one of his favorites.
"It is excellent. We are Soldiers, we serve Soldiers on a daily basis. But we have kids, we have families, we live and work in the community. Here at Ladd, almost all of these students have families on post, and it is a great way to give back to the families we support, a great way to encourage them and to use our skills in the same way we were encouraged many years ago in music class and in schools by our teachers."
"What we try to do is come into the schools and help the teachers in a way that only we can. Because we are professional musicians and we are professional soldiers and it is a way we can go into the community and give back to the schools the skills we have obtained."
"'Music that Lasts a Lifetime' is the theme this year," Price said. "In my opinion you want to give the kids as much as you can give them. You want to saturate them with all the opportunities. What we try to do is present them with a lot of different styles and genres of music and encourage them.
To do this, the band played traditional marches, Dixieland tunes, and ""The William Tell Overture." The Arctic Rock Band put their own spin on "Yankee Doodle" and the theme to "Sponge Bob Square Pants." A vocal quintet sang "God Bless America" and the whole audience enjoyed "When the Saints Come Marching In."
"It is important that we hold onto music programs when the money gets cut," said Cook. "Music lasts a lifetime, it is a universal language. It will be sad if we cut back on music programs because kids will miss that opportunity to get involved. If we limit those opportunities to people who have time and money to take their kids to private lessons we will lose a lot of talent."
"The great thing about being an Army musician," Price said "is we represent the Army everywhere we go. By our displaying the Army values I hope that is an encouragement to kids as they grow in their citizenship and respect and love for the country."