9th Army Band rocks Music In Our Schools month

By Staff Sergeant Trish McMurphy
USARAK Public Affairs

News story photo
Photo credit: SGT Brian Bohannon
Staff Sergeant Crystal Downs of U.S. Army Alaska’s 9th Army Band interacts with the crowd during the annual Music In Our Schools performance series, wrapping up a tour of more than 20 schools in the Fairbanks area.
U.S. Army Alaska’s 9th Army Band rounded up its annual Music In Our Schools tour with a bang - playing to the delight of kindergarten through eighth grade students and teachers of the Two Rivers School.

The band had the children on their feet, dancing, smiling and singing along. March was National Music In Our Schools month. The event aims to draw attention to the significance of music education in our schools and community. “I wanted the [Army] band to come here,” Two Rivers music teacher Cedar Rabun said. “The band program here isn’t really big; the music program has mostly strings – just the orchestra. So I have been trying really hard to get the band up again.”

Throughout the month, the 9th Army Band played for 24 schools in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and Delta Junction School Districts to educate and entertain students about our country’s musical traditions and styles.

“The Woodwind Quintet, Brass Ensemble, Rock Band and Show Band played a wide variety of music including Americana, marches, classical, jazz, Latin, TV [themes], video game [music], pop, and dance music,” 9th Army Bandmaster Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeffrey Price said.

The band played everything from patriotic standards like “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Alaska’s Flag,” the state song, to contemporary pop songs like “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz.

“We designed the show to give them a variety of opportunities to be involved in the show. It is fast-paced and full of surprises. The students sang, clapped, spoke Spanish and danced as they learned about our Nation. Each song had a focus and our Soldiers led them on how to effectively participate in each song,” Price said. “The Soldiers of your Army are great role models.”

Price said that one Army band made a strong impression on him when he was growing up and he hopes the band he now directs will inspire a new generation.

“I know I was inspired by the Army musicians in the 249th Army National Guard Band in my home state of West Virginia when I was growing up,” he said. “[They] kindled a fire in me to learn about and model good citizenship. I will always remember that and would love if I was also able to give that same spark to our nation’s youth.”

This is just one reason the band makes its way to various schools, like Two Rivers, each year - to give young students the opportunity to see that it can be fun and it can be a possible career option in the future.

“We hope by our musical excellence and professionalism that we remind them of the dedication and hard work of our colleagues serving in their community and around the world protecting the freedom and the values we hold dear as Americans,” Price said.

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