Army Field Band Presents Instrument Demonstrations for Local Students

By Jonathan E. Agee
The United States Army Field Band

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Photo credit: Jonathan Agee
Staff Sgt. David Parks demonstrates the saxophone for students at Gorman Crossing Elementary School, Aug. 28. Soldiers from the Army Field Band worked with thousands of students throughout Maryland as part of the unit’s educational outreach program.
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. --The U.S. Army Field Band provided instrument demonstrations to students in 32 schools throughout Maryland this month and last.

The demonstrations are part of the Army Field Band’s educational outreach program and showcase instruments students may play during the school year.

“The demonstrations allow the students to hear what the instruments can sound like after years of practice,” said Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Johnson, Army Field Band trumpet player. “After seeing our demo, most students will be drawn to one or two instruments more than the others, and it might not have been the ones they expected.”

The demonstrations are also beneficial to band directors who are not typically experts on every instrument in the band.

“Deciding on which instrument to play is an important and sometimes a life changing decision,” said Ronald D. Bowman, Band & Strings Teacher at Gorman Crossing Elementary School. “Students are familiar with band instruments from general music, TV, and movies, but I want my students to see and hear professional musicians perform live on their instruments.

“It is so important for students to hear the timbre of each instrument played by a professional, and who better than the members of The Army Field Band to provide this amazing opportunity to our students. Not only do they beautifully demonstrate each instrument, they also connect to the students with their passion and enthusiasm for music. I know the students watched and listened to each musician, but I also know they felt their excitement too.”

The Army Field Band has conducted instrument demonstrations in the local area for seven years. Increasingly, the community requests Soldiers to return because it helps students and band programs alike.

“Yesterday, we had a teacher say that their program had doubled in size in the last 3 years since she started the demo program,” said Master Sgt. Jason Stephens, Army Field Band education coordinator. “When I taught beginning band, I tried to demonstrate all of the instruments. I can make a sound on every instrument, but I do not play them well. So for a student to hear a professional play the instrument that they like and keep that example of a good sound in their head is invaluable.”

The band programs are not the only benefactor from the demonstrations – Soldiers also enjoy giving back to the community.

“With The U.S. Army Field Band, I've had the opportunity to be a part of some extraordinary events and meet some amazing people, but I believe these are some of the most impactful performances we do,” said Johnson. “The kids see that we care about their education, we help get them excited about music, and they're reminded that the Army Field Band is a part of their community. Hopefully the kids will grow up playing music and remember that we had a small hand in that.”

The Army Field Band also hosts instrument demonstrations and music clinics throughout the nation via Google Hangouts. Anyone interested in requesting a Hangout can visit www.ArmyFieldBand.com and click the “Education” tab at the top of the page.

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