Army Band Spreads Goodwill Music

By Cheryl Harrison, FTSHTX Public Information Office
U.S. Army Medical Command Band

News story photo
Photo credit: SFC Santos Godineaux
CW3 William Brazier leads the U.S. Army Medical Command Band through the streets of San Antonio during the annual Veteran's Day Parade in November 2005.
Being in today’s Army conjures up images of Soldiers in combat, marching to cadence, or perhaps operating a helicopter. Another important position sometimes overlooked or considered extra duty is playing a musical instrument in the Army band. Fort Sam Houston’s Army Medical Command Band, as it is formally called, consists of 39 highly qualified musicians. Each Soldier musician has been through a required audition that entails sight reading, scales and performing a piece or two of music on the instrument of their choice. “Although this career is fun, highly visible and great for morale, a lot of people don’t realize we must still maintain the strict Army standards of being a Soldier,” said Spc. Elizabeth Niblett. “We are Soldiers in the Army, but our (military occupational specialty) is playing music with the band.” Being a member of the band requires dedication, a love for music and a lot of practice. The sounds of music can be heard from Building 199, where rehearsals are held several times a week. Chief Warrant Officer William Brazier, band commander and director, takes each section of the band through rigorous and, more often than not, complicated compositions. Fort Sam Houston’s band is not strictly a marching band, although that is one aspect of the group. Different situations require different groups, whether it’s a jazz ensemble for a small gathering or a rock band for a party function. Other groups include a Latin ensemble and a Dixie band. There are a few vocalists in
the band, and they are used for some numbers, but it is not a prerequisite.
Being part of the band requires long schedules, not only days, but late into the evenings, and most holidays. They not only entertain, they boost the morale of their fellow Soldiers and support the mission of the Army through their music. “The band does not have a normal duty schedule,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Brown, a former cargo specialist. “We are the first on the field and the last off the field,” Brown added. The band, either in its entirety or in part, can be found at just about every deployment and homecoming ceremony, as well as other post ceremonies, such as changes of command,
groundbreaking ceremonies and occasionally during lunch at the Sam Houston Club. In addition to supporting post activities, the band members act as goodwill ambassadors within the San Antonio community. “They
support about 75 to 100 commitments each year, with our busiest time being Fiesta,” said Staff Sgt. Noel Miles, Operations NCOIC. From local parades, such as the one on Veterans Day, to small town parades in Sommerset, Texas, they entertain at a variety of events including a ceremony in the state capitol of Austin, Texas, earlier this year. The band members also stay active during the holiday season. Experience the sound of the holiday season at the band’s upcoming holiday concert Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, 308 Ave. E at Fourth Street, in downtown San Antonio. The event will feature a guest appearance by
the Texas Children’s Choir. It is a free concert and reservations are not required.

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