The Brass Quintet from Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., went on a five-day tour of Recruiting Station Lansing, Oct. 20–24, performing and holding clinics for thousands of students and faculty members at eight area high schools.
“The band's main role in recruiting is to show the public the professionalism Marines possess and the opportunities that the program holds,” said Gunnery Sgt. Stephanie Errickson, 9th Marine Corps District’s musician placement director. “Most young high school kids are unaware that the Marine Corps has a music program that will allow them to continue to play their instrument. Bringing the band out to the schools is the perfect way to show them what the Marine Corps music program has to offer.”
The Quintet focused its tour on educating the community on the Marine Corps music program and showing high school students the benefits of pursuing a career as a Marine musician.
“The best part of my job in the Marine Corps is going out to the schools and performing for the high schoolers,” said Sgt. Derrick Dunbar, 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 in the Marines Corps. Many of the kids that we meet never know that the Marine Corps offers this as a full-time job.”
The Quintet wasn’t the only group excited by the visit to Michigan.
“This was a great opportunity for my students,” said Dave Larzelere, Waverly High School band director, Lansing, Mich. “The performance was great and the Marines did a wonderful job interacting with the students and answering questions, but more importantly, my students where presented with another option to continue playing after high school. This is something that I would have been interested in doing after high school if I would have known about it.”
The Quintet’s performances consisted of about 40 minutes of performing and 30 minutes of clinic time playing alongside the bands they visited, followed by a critique on how they can improve and evolve as a band.
“The coaching helped me a lot with my technique and breathing,” said Waverly band member Adam Lewis. “It was a great experience I will never forget. Maybe one day I can be in their shoes teaching what I love.”
The Brass Quintet consists of five members. This ensemble is often used as a teaching tool within the high school and college communities across the nation. This particular Quintet from Twentynine Palms has been together for a year and has performed at more than 75 events and schools.
“The experience was really rewarding for both the Marines and the students,” said Sgt. Andrew Haig, a French horn player from Boston, Mass. “After doing this a couple of times, I have a new perspective of our music program and I see how much just 30 minutes can change someone’s life. You could tell that the students were actually absorbing the material. I had a great time and hope to participate in a teaching experience again soon.”
The week ended with a performance at Haslett High School where tuba player Dunbar played more than 10 years ago.
“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 school,” said Dunbar, a 1997 graduate of Haslett.
Marine Corps musical units perform at ceremonies, parades, festivals, 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.
The 12 Marine Corps bands field six types of ensembles:
· Concert Band - A group of 50 Marines 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 three to six Marines and 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.