The day was like any other day for the Prior Lake High School student body, but the monotony was soon broken when men and women in Dress Blue uniforms carrying instrument cases walked into the school’s auditorium. But today will sing another tune.
Fifty members of the U.S. Marine Corps Band San Diego recently performed at several high schools in the Twin Cities area as part of its annual tour. The band dispersed into three different ensembles to perform at more than 20 schools on the Feb 16-20.
“We have with us members of the ceremonial band, a jazz combo and a brass quintet,” said Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Barta, the band’s drum major.
“The band goes on tour to show a different side of the Marine Corps,” said Barta, a Cedarburg, Wis., native. “A lot of people have no idea they can join the Marine Corps to play in a band. This is where we come in to play, to tell the band story.”
Between sets Barta, along with other members of the band, provided general Marine Corps information to the audience and held a question and answer session.
“Some of these kids are intimidated by the recruiters,” Barta explained. “When we come out, we try to break the ice and show how the Marine Corps can benefit them, as well as society.”
Staff Sgt. Chanserey Khem, a recruiter from Recruiting Substation Burnsville, was present to talk to those students interested in more information about the Marine Corps.
“It was great for the band to come here and play,” Khem said. “It’s one thing for a recruiter to talk about the band, but for [the students] to see them perform in person (it) leaves a lasting impression.”
Barta still remember feeling that lasting impression himself 18 years ago.
“The Marine Corps gave me what I was looking for — a career,” Barta said. “I always wanted to be a drum major, and I am now. Not only do I get to lead the band in the march, I also get to lead Marines. I’m living my dream and the Marine Corps has helped me to do that.”