A look into the life of the Army band

Chief Warrant Officer-5 Jeanne Pace, left, 1st Cavalry Division Band commander, conducts a rehearsal Nov. 6 at Fort Hood.

U.S. Army/Spc. Bradley J. Wancour

Many people dream about having a job where they do what they love, but not everyone gets the opportunity. Members of the 1st Cavalry Division Band, however, count themselves among the few.

So how does one get into the band in the first place?

Sgt. Joseph Young, guitar and trumpet player, said he didn’t know the Army had a band before he was given the opportunity to join.

“I was originally going to join the Coast Guard instead of going to college,” Young said. “But in high school, a uniformed soldier came into my band class with a clarinet and told us we could be a part of the Army band. So I joined the National Guard and went to college to study music. Seven or eight years later, I went active and joined the band.”

Joining the band was an obvious choice for Young.

“I’ve been playing music since I developed the motor skills to do so,” Young said. “I started banging on the piano when I was 2 or 3 years old, and I’ve been playing trumpet and guitar since I was 10.”

The nature of the band requires soldiers to participate in performances at all hours of the day, including in the middle of the night and on holidays, so the schedule is different from week to week, Young said.

The band plays varies kinds of music in a variety of settings.

“The band is broken up into different ensembles,” Young said. “We have the concert band, marching band, brass and woodwind quintets, the jazz combo and the rock band. There are also times where the full band, or a ‘cut-down’ band, will perform together.”

Each of those groups play in different venues: The marching band performs at ceremonies like command or responsibility changes and parades, the jazz combo plays at dinner parties, regimental balls, retirement parties, Young said.

“We can play in as many of the ensembles as our schedule allows,” Young said. “Because of the numerous ensembles all having their own scheduled performances, it’s not always possible to be in the groups we want to be, but as long as one can make it work, he can be a part of that ensemble.”

Sometimes band members may even be asked to step into an ensemble to fulfill a need, Young said.

“We are all expected to be able to play everything on our instruments: The quintet music, the concert band music, the jazz combo music, and so on,” he said.

Is performing and rehearsing the only thing band members do on a daily basis?

“All Army bands are self-supporting units,” said Staff Sgt. Marc Purinton, trumpet player.

In order to support the unit, members of the band have to take on additional duties, said Purinton, who runs the band public affairs and operations shop.

“As one becomes more experienced in the band, he learns how the band operates and starts taking over some of those additional duties to help the band accomplish its mission,” he said.

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