Those guys rock, but let’s get to class!

By Jonathan Agee
The United States Army Field Band

News story photo
Photo credit: Jonathan Agee
The Volunteers hosted an educational clinic March 14 at Lafayette High School where they had a chance to educate and converse with the school’s music community.
LAFAYETTE, La. -- The set list included songs from Pink Floyd, Adele, Cee-Lo, and Beyonce, but what stood out the most took place after the concert. The Volunteers hosted an educational clinic at Lafayette High School Wednesday where they had a chance to educate and converse with the school’s music community.

Lafayette High School is the largest high school in the state and host to more than 1,000 gifted art students. “We draw from all over the parish for students who are interested in music and have that high interest; and there are somewhere around 400 performing arts students here and it’s a good opportunity for our students to see professionals at work,” said Dr. Virgel Fulcher, assistant principal and director of the Performing Arts Academy at Lafayette High School.

Following the concert, The Volunteers broke into small groups and related what the students watched in the performance to what the students are currently learning in school.

“The main objective for us is to talk about what we are doing on stage, and a lot of that is playing as an ensemble,” said Staff Sgt. Glenn Robertson, drummer. “And, taking a lot of the stuff that we have studied and learned and making it apply to the pop music that we are playing.”

Many of the students were receptive to The Volunteers’ teaching style that involved a mix of conversation and technique. For sophomore Brennan Frederick, guitarist, the instruction taught him a valuable lesson about playing in a band. “Less playing is more,” said Frederick. “Less can add to the musicality as opposed to just trying to show off and get all the attention, because it is a band effort. The band sound is more important than your sound.”

Frederick admits that prior to The Volunteers’ clinic instruction he typically wanted to “shred” whenever possible, but now understands the importance of balance when it comes to playing in an ensemble.
The Volunteers also discussed playing behind or in front of the beat, a topic which the instructors have had a hard time teaching to the students. The Volunteers were able to demonstrate a single song to contrast the difference.

“In our guitar class we have to play behind the beat in one of our songs and I never really got it, they clarified it for me,” said Shayna Meaux, sophomore guitarist.

The instructors appreciated the Soldier-Musicians talking about their career in music and what it takes to become a professional musician. “I’m often trying to mentor them about what it takes to be a professional musician and play professionally and pursue it,” said Josef A. Butts, instructor for the talented music program. “I give them as much experience and insight to what they need to do, and sometimes they get a little numb from their daily teacher, so it’s good to hear it from other people and have it displayed in a performance setting. “

For The Volunteers, hosting clinics is one of the best parts of the job. It is a time when they can relate to the audience and talk about what they love – music. “I hope we do more clinics in the future, they are great and we love them,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Lindsey, guitarist.

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