An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Features : Display
NEWS | Dec. 18, 2013

TRADOC holiday concert series: Behind the scenes

By Staff Sgt. Ashley Hawkins 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band Jazz Orchestra performed at Bethel Temple in Hampton, Dec. 13, part of their free "Celebrate the Holidays" concert series.

U.S. Army Spc. Anna Leverenz, TRADOC Band musician, played the French horn and sang two songs during the event, attended by approximately 690 community members.

"This is one of the highlights of the year," said Leverenz. "People are always saying the holiday concert is their favorite event and they really love hearing the TRADOC band, so it's nice that when the military's financially cutting back, we continue to reach out to the community and tell the Army story."

According to Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Reosti, TRADOC Band senior operations noncommissioned officer in charge, the band performs an average of 30 concerts a month.

"Our highest quarter of concerts is the beginning of the fiscal year, which is October to Dececember," said Reosti. "We do twice as many [shows] during the holiday month of December."

Although the band makes performing look easy, a lot of time is spent not only booking locations for performances, but also selecting and practicing the music.

The process begins with the band conductor.

"The conductor will look back at old programs to see what we've played recently, so we don't repeat music too often," said Leverenz. "He'll check with the librarian to see if we need to order music, then he'll pass out [his selection]. After that, we'll read his selections to see if it works well with the instrumentation. For this concert series, we started reading for music selection in October.

"From there, the conductor will take some time to study his music so he can lead us through," she continued. "Although we only have one part, the conductor can see all of it, so he's the one who really is responsible for knowing how all the parts move."

By the time the conductor leads the group, the musicians have practiced their individual parts, allowing the conductor to shape the music the way he wants it.

Afterward, the team will have several rehearsals, practicing sections in fragments to work on balance and blend to make sure the audience will hear what they want portrayed.

Finally, as concert day approaches, the conductor will lead the group through the entire performance to work on transitions between songs to familiarize the band with the overall flow of the presentation.

Not only has Leverenz spent her time practicing with the band, but she also spent additional time perfecting her vocals.

"We have regular rehearsals with the ensemble, and I've practice on my own as well," she said. "Because I'm featured as a vocalist, that's been a lot of private practice for me trying to prepare for the performance."

Although the team may practice several hours a day, throughout the week leading up to the performance, Leverenz says she also practiced daily playing the French horn by herself for a few hours, in addition to singing for an hour.

With the extra practice, holding the additional position as a vocalist has not been a problem for the multi-talented musician.

"I spent a lot of time learning how to play the horn and really perfecting my skills, so it's kind of nice to know that's not the only thing I'm able to do," said Leverenz. "Having more than one skill takes so much pressure off being a horn player if there's something else I know I'm good at."

After the countless hours of practice, the team performed for the crowd, which ended with a standing ovation.

Rochelle Crockett, Survivor Outreach Services support coordinator, and members of the "Gold Star Families," who sat in the front row, were among the nearly 700 guests who enjoyed the free show.

"Everyone really enjoyed the performances," said Crockett. "We had families there that really enjoy doing that activity together as a family, so it's a nice family outing as we begin to kick off Christmas."