- > News
Local Schools Benefit from Band Program
By Kimberly K. Fritz
Fort Lee Family/Community Life Reporter
Photo credit: Kimberly K. Fritz
The 392nd Army Band at Fort Lee's Woodwind Quartet perform at L.L. Beezley Elementary School March 14 as part of the Music in Our Schools program.
The project is part of an Army-wide program called Music in Our Schools. It allows Army bandsmen to step out of the rehearsal hall and into primary and secondary classrooms, giving students a glimpse at what opportunities lay ahead if they should choose to become professional musicians.
The local effort this year will include a partnership concert featuring the 392nd Jazz Ensemble and the Hopewell High School Jazz Band on Tuesday, 7 p.m., at the Hopewell High School Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.
“The Music in Our Schools program is a good way to give back to the communities that support us,” said Spc. Tonga Tukumoeatu, a trombone player for the 392nd Army Band. During his school years, he benefited from a similar visit by the 23rd Army Band from West Jordan, Utah.
“When I chose music as a career, I learned a lot by listening to professional bands, including military bands. I think it’s the best way to expand that knowledge and understand the breadth of the music industry.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Charles H. Vollherbst, the band’s new commander, said he’s happy to provide student musicians with role models and more opportunities to listen to professional groups play.
“Educators are the most experienced at teaching music, but everyone has their own way of imparting music,” he said. “It’s beneficial (for young musicians) to hear some types of music played in addition to reading sheet music. They should hear it and watch how a group works together or how stylistic solos are performed.”
Army band members bring many years of classroom and college training, and the experience of performing a wide variety of music at military events, to the schools. The mentorship value of the Music in Our School program is monumental and, locally, the 392nd project will reach more than 10,500 students at more than 20 schools in the Cities of Hopewell, Petersburg and Colonial Heights, and the counties of Prince George and Chesterfield this month.
“The 392nd’s participation in the program last year received fantastic feedback from teachers, school administrators and students alike,” said Sarah Gauvin, the primary project coordinator and the Fort Lee Public Affairs Office community relations specialist. “Each visit lasts about an hour, but in that short amount of time we give students the opportunity to see music as a profession in addition to being a fun and patriotic experience.”
Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Reese, conductor of the band’s Jazz Ensemble, said he’s very much looking forward to the upcoming performance at Hopewell High.
“We understand the influence we can have on these students,” he said. “I like showing them that there are jobs where you can continue to play after they finish their education. An experience like this shows students where the hard work and dedication they devote to their music can take them.”
Tuesday’s concert will feature 11 songs including “Love for Sale,” “Every Day I Have the Blues” and “String of Pearls.”
For details about the 392nd Army Band and their programs, visit www.lee.army.mil/army.band/392.army.band.aspx