Band soldiers collaborate with music educators at NDSU Symposium

By Staff Sgt. Mike Hagburg
North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs

News story photo
Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Mike Hagburg
Ryan Swedean, a North Dakota State University graduate student from Fargo, N.D., plays trombone with Warrant Officer Dave Stordalen, commander of the 188th Army Band, during a march music class on Aug. 2, 2012. The band, which is a North Dakota National Guard unit based in Fargo, is participating in the NDSU music education symposium Aug. 1-3.
FARGO, N.D. - The soldier musicians of the 188th Army Band went back to school Aug. 1-3 as part of their annual training.

The band, a North Dakota National Guard unit based in Fargo, assisted educators from North Dakota State University in conducting the NDSU Summer Symposium in Music Education.

"We worked for the last year and a half to bring the band to the symposium," said Prof. Warren Olfert, NDSU's director of bands. "Without a live band, we have to just talk about music and listen to recordings during our instrumental sessions."

Olfert said it "worked really well" having the band on hand to play music for the symposium students and to demonstrate the points the instructors were making.

On Aug. 1, the band helped Olfert teach the symposium students about lesser-known concert band literature. The next day, Olfert directed the band in classic marches, and on the last day of the symposium, the band's brass quintet and jazz band played in classes devoted to working with smaller ensembles.

Participating in the symposium was an educational experience for the band's soldiers.

"It was a good opportunity for our ensembles to learn from university professors and to make connections with music educators," said Staff Sgt. Tim Knabe, director of the 188th's jazz band. "We also got exposure to a wide variety of musical literature."

Prof. Jeremy Brekke, who worked with the band's brass quintet, said that the band did a great job.

"They were easy to work with and prepared all the music we asked for," he said. "The quality of their playing was very high."

"I learned about different styles of music and how to correctly teach and perform unfamiliar material," said Spc. Josh Peterson, a clarinet and saxophone player. "I enjoyed being able to play a lot of older music that has been ignored - there's something fun about being able to play good old stuff that no one knows about."

Warrant Officer Dave Stordalen, the band's commander, said that the band demonstrated concentration and attention to detail in playing an "unprecedented" amount of music with very little time to practice it.

"Making the symposium part of annual training was a great way to allow the band to become familiar with a large number of wind band classics that we otherwise would not have had the opportunity to play," he said. "It was very valuable training."

Stordalen said the symposium also gave the band the chance to build its relationship with NDSU.

"For years, the band has thrived with the help of soldier musicians from colleges all across North Dakota," he said. "It's a special experience to be able to collaborate with our music schools and it's also a way to give back and show our gratitude for the musical talent they help develop."

The band started its annual training July 27 and began a concert tour of the state on with a performance in Grand Forks on Aug. 4. The band performed in Minot on Aug. 5 and Williston on Aug. 6. It will perform in Bismarck today, Lisbon tomorrow, Wahpeton on Aug. 9 and in Fargo on Aug. 10.

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