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Pentagon Winds closes out school year with patriotism
By Jonathan Agee
The United States Army Field Band
Photo credit: Jonathan Agee
The Pentagon Winds performs for the students and staff of Northfield Elementary School June 8. The ensemble played a variety of music ranging from patriotic tunes to movie themes.
Normally, the last day of class for Northfield Elementary students coincides with Flag Day, but this year, due to unused snow days, they finished almost a week early. That did not stop the students and staff from having a great time and celebrating America with the Army Field Band’s Pentagon Winds, June 8.
“Part of our job as the Musical Ambassadors of the Army is community outreach,” said Master Sgt. Alan White, French horn. “We are helping to keep the Army in touch with the American public, and the youngest members of the American public are crucial to what we do as musicians … We’re hoping to inspire future musicians and possibly future Army Bands men and women with our playing, and helping to support the music programs here at the school. And it’s just a lot of fun.”
The Soldier-Musicians played a variety of music ranging from patriotic pieces to familiar movie themes. They also took the time to explain their instruments and playing style. For the students and staff, having the Musical Ambassadors of the Army perform was the perfect finish to the school year.
“I try to have people from all walks of life come in and support our children’s understanding of the freedoms they have and where they come from as part of their history and culture,” said Dr. Rebecca J. Straw, principal. “This day gave an opportunity for us to have a nice culmination for our students, plus do what we like to do at the end of the school year. It was perfect. I really appreciate the cooperation of the Army Field Band with our scheduling and programming; it worked out very well.”
The principal was not the only staff member who was excited about the Army Field Band. The school’s music director also had a lot to say about the performance and the impact it has on the students.
“Number one, they don’t get to hear any of these instruments played at this level,” said Tim Beall, band director. “It’s definitely not what they are exposed to at home or on the radio. So for them to get to hear it live and in person is really great, especially by such great players.
"They get introduced to all these instruments in their instrument classes, but a live performance is always better than listening to a recording; so it gets them excited about playing instruments when they get to the third and fourth grade when they can join band and strings. I think they really enjoyed it. I could see a lot of smiles and a lot of kids who were really into it; it was great.”
The students and staff were not the only ones having a good time. White admits that performing for the students and staff of schools and universities throughout the United States is one of his favorite parts of the job.
Northfield Elementary School students are scheduled to return to school during the last week in August. As part of the Army Field Band’s ongoing relationship with local schools in Maryland, Soldier-Musicians will be providing instruments demonstrations during that first week of class.