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NEWS | March 18, 2015

TRADOC Band brings music to local schools

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Chatter slowed among the kindergarten and first-grade students as music began to play, tearing their attention away from the now hushed conversations. The sound of squeaky sneakers was covered as the students rushed to find their spots to watch the performers play familiar songs at George J. McIntosh Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, March 16, 2015.

During the month of March, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band performance teams are scheduled travel to schools throughout the Hampton Roads, Virginia, area to perform and teach students about music and the Army, in some cases as the first Soldiers the they will meet.

"We're the face of the Army for these kids, some of them never interacted with Soldiers before," said Staff Sgt. Maria Haller, TRADOC Band Woodwind Quintet team leader. "This [series] is an opportunity for us to give them a good first impression of the military and teach them part of the Army story using music."

Throughout the month, as many as three performance teams travel to local schools daily, varying from elementary level to high school and some colleges to help expose students to musical instruments they may not have access to in their school.

"On the elementary [school] level, we don't have the special instruments to show students to peak their interest," said Becky Riebeling, George J. McIntosh Elementary School music teacher. "To see the instruments live and with a group that engages with them so well is the best experience we can give our kids because it makes them more interested in music, while giving them the opportunities to pursue it early on."

To effectively communicate with each audience, the teams alter their performances and lessons to fit the age group, said Haller.

"High school music students want to learn about the Army and music-career opportunities as a whole," said Haller. "But elementary school- and middle school-aged children aren't looking at careers just yet, so we try to focus on instruments and exposing them to different musical forms."

Haller believes the bands' performances will help encourage students to make connections in the classroom and gain a greater appreciation for music, while allowing them more opportunities for their future.

"Music can have a really positive impact on some kids; it teaches discipline, focus and how to work with others," said Haller. "This program allows us to teach what we love and when we see their faces light up, we know we've made a difference."