The Military Intelligence Corps Band, or MI Corps Band, became more involved in students’ music education this year holding their first joint performance at Colonel Smith Middle School’s “Spring Concert” March 5 at school.
Seventh and eighth grade band students participated in two rehearsals with the Soldiers prior to the show to practice six songs as a combined band. According to Cpl. Jonathan Spangler, education outreach leader, MI Corps Band, the small ensembles and concert band Soldiers are becoming more involved in the schools’ music programs.
“The students soak up every musical idea you present to them, and if you have enough energy, they in turn give you a wonderful, energetic experience,” Spangler said.
Staff Sgt. Ron Hinkle, MI Corps Band, explained that the partnership shows students that music is more than just a past-time, or a class at school.
“I think they see that music is a life-time thing, that there are careers in music,” he added.
Reminiscing on his own time in school, Hinkle remembered how inspiring it was to see an Air Force band perform when he was a junior in high school. From the experience, he said how he was able to keep in mind that the military was an option for instrumentalists. For Hinkle, that inspiration came back years later watching a concert of a Washington D.C. Army band, which influenced him to join the Army.
Aside from the inspiration the MI Corps Band offered the middle school students, Spangler was able to give his own advice to students and parents at the end of the concert, encouraging the young instrumentalists to receive private lessons if possible.
“The fine details of each instrument cannot be taught in a classroom with 40 other musicians,” he explained. “Private instruction helps the students receive specific instruction and correction, and ultimately helps the student see progress faster, rendering them more likely to continue in ensemble music playing throughout education.”
During the joint concert, Spangler also took the role of conductor for four out of the six pieces. He explained his experience of directing both bands on stage playing music at different levels.
“I demand excellence from every musician I conduct regardless. With that said, I do approach my musicians in slightly different ways, one of which is the rehearsal critiques,” he continued. “With professional musicians I need not delve into pitch and rhythmic corrections, but with middle school and high school musicians, it is absolutely necessary to support the efforts of their teacher and spot correct items of obvious error.”
While the partnership is aimed at band students, Hinkle pointed out that the Soldiers benefit from being music mentors as well.
“Many of us have music education degrees. I was a high school music teacher for a little while and a substitute teacher, so it was interesting to reconnect with that,” Hinkle said. “We kind of get lost in our own little world of professional music and forget that we all started somewhere.”
The MI Corps Band’s music education outreach doesn’t stop with Colonel Smith Middle School. Next month the Soldiers will rehearse with Buena High School’s jazz band students. Their joint concert will take place April 8, 7 p.m., at Buena High School, 5225 Buena School Blvd., Sierra Vista.