School is in session at Colonel Smith Middle School on Fort Huachuca, and for first-year band students that means selecting what instrument they will play. On Aug. 22, the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps Band came to the school to help them make their decisions.
The MI Corps Band, stationed on Fort Huachuca, sent 11 Soldiers to perform for the first-year band students and demonstrate each of their instruments. The students asked questions about the instruments, such as: Why does a trumpet have valves? How does it make a sound? What do the holes on a saxophone do?
Karl Balandovich, SMS band director and retired Army musician, has had a continuous working relationship with Soldiers from the MI Corps Band. “Some of the Soldiers came down to help audition the students,” Balandovich said. “When I had the opportunity to have them do a demonstration, of course I said ‘sure.’ The students were thrilled to see and hear professional musicians.” Last school year, MI Corps Band Soldiers provided individual and group lessons to SMS students.
Army bands such as the MI Corps Band perform frequently for students. Staff Sgt. Alice Park, a flute player with the band, helped to coordinate the event. When asked about the SMS performance, Park said, “I have performed plenty of master classes and demonstrations with Army Bands, but usually for students at high schools or colleges. It was very rewarding to introduce these kids to the sound of each instrument. Anything to promote music.”
Bringing music into schools falls within the family support, public diplomacy, community relations and education aspects of the mission of Army bands. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tom Bauer, MI Corps Band commander, seeks every opportunity to support that aspect of their mission. “Not only is it a part of our mission, but as a parent and a Soldier myself, I believe it’s a good idea to support the children of fellow Soldiers. As musicians, we also want to encourage the next generation to participate in our craft,” Bauer said. He also expressed pride in his Soldiers, both for establishing contact with the school and organizing the demonstration. “The Soldiers took the initiative and made this event happen.”