The Brass Quintet from Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. , toured Recruiting Station Lansing’s area April 21–25 to aid recruiters by increasing awareness of the Corps and the diversity it offers to high school students.
“The band's main role in recruiting is to show the public the honor, commitment, and professionalism Marines possess,” said Staff Sgt. Stephanie Errickson, 9th Marine Corps District’s musician placement director.
The band performed and held clinics for thousands of students and faculty members at nine high schools and Michigan State University .
“The best part of my job in the Marine Corps is going out to the schools and performing and helping the high schoolers,” said Sgt. Derrick Dunbar, a tuba player from Haslett , Mich. “It gives me the chance to give back to the Marine Corps by spreading the word about the band and the different opportunities the Marines Corps provides. Many of the kids that we meet never know that the Marine Corps offers this as a job.”
The Quintet wasn’t the only one excited by the visit to Michigan .
“You don’t get many opportunities like this,” said Ray Rickert, director of Thornapple-Kellogg High School ’s Band in Kalamazoo , Mich. “Last year, I took my band students to see the Canadian Brass, and it was a wonderful performance, but the Marines may have changed the way my students look at music. The performance was great, but my students had the opportunity to ask questions and get them answered. Even more importantly, the quintet members’ ability to relate with the students, give one-on-one lessons and teach them different techniques, was invaluable.”
The quintet’s performances consisted of about 40 minutes of playing and 30 minutes of clinic time playing alongside the bands they visited, followed by a critique on how they can improve and evolve into a better band.
“I play the trumpet and was having a hard time playing the notes as I read them on the sheet,” said Danielle Rosenberg, a student at Thornapple Kellogg High School . “Sergeant (Roberto) Roman took the time to show me how to read it better and helped run through the song with me. It was an experience I will never forget. I feel I am a better player after 30 minutes.”
Marine Corps musical units perform at ceremonies, parades, festivals, professional sporting events, concerts, and other public events. Marine Corps musicians sustain the Corps’ rich military culture and present inspiring public programs that entertain audiences and instill a sense of national pride and patriotism. Twelve Marine Corps bands perform six types of ensembles:
Concert Band - A group of 50 Marines, a full wind ensemble that performs all types of traditional music and transcriptions. Ceremonial Band - A group of 21-50 Marines which performs marches, patriotic music, and official ceremonial music at various military ceremonies. Jazz/Show Band - 15-20 Marines who perform Jazz, Swing, Rock and other various styles of popular music. Jazz Combo - A smaller version of the Jazz/Show Band. This ensemble, usually consisting of 3-6 Marines, is able to perform jazz music in a smaller, more intimate setting. Brass/Woodwind Quintet - A group of five Marines who perform traditional and ceremonial music in smaller venues. Bugler - A trumpet player who performs at funerals and memorial services.
Quintets are often used as a teaching tools within the high school and college communities across the nation. The quintet from 29 Palms has been together for about seven months and has performed at more than 50 events and schools.
“I think it was great to show the students a different side of the Marine Corps and the opportunities it offers,” said Cpl. Andrew Haig, a French horn player from Boston . “Who better to find musicians for the Marine Corps than Marine Corps musicians? And who better to answer the questions than the Marines doing the job everyday!”
The week ended with a performance at Michigan State University where tuba player Dunbar played as a member of the school’s band from 2001-2004.
“It was great going back to my old school and talking with the band director and showing the band’s members that there is a place where you can continue to play after college,” said Dunbar. “I remember when I was getting ready to leave MSU, crossing the same road they are going down, finding out that I can continue my music and get paid to do it in the world’s most elite organization.”