Washington, D.C. --
Musicians from the U.S. Marine Band shared their passion and appreciation for music with approximately 5000 elementary school students in the D.C. area as part of their annual Music in the Schools Program this fall.
Throughout the month of October, “The President’s Own” visited more than 30 schools educating and entertaining young audiences with live music.
“Because we are professional musicians we understand the importance of music education and exposing kids to music. As both professional musicians and Marines, we consider this one of our most important missions,” said Maj. Jason K. Fettig, Marine Band senior assistant director and executive officer. “The only way to cultivate interest in music is to get out there and let kids experience it, especially live.”
The music played during the band’s presentations ranged from classical to popular movie tunes such as “The Pirates of the Caribbean” theme. Students were encouraged to interact with the band by identifying the songs that were played. Children were also taught about musical tempos and had an opportunity to ask questions and interact with each of the band members on a one-on-one basis.
“The visual aids and seeing the adults play some of the same instruments that they play, were the best two things for the children,” said Jacqueline Snowden, the arts integration coordinator at Lafayette Elementary School. “At the end, they all wanted to ask questions to show they know the instruments because they play them too.”
For nearly five decades the U.S. Marine band has been bringing music into many schools where children have little or no formal musical education. The chance to share their passion and knowledge of music is what many band members say they cherish most about the program.
“Some schools unfortunately don’t have music programs and even if they do, children might not have the chance to see the type of instruments we play,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph De Luccio, an oboe player with The President’s Own. “As professional musicians we all want to share our love of music with others, especially the next generation.”
In addition to developing a greater appreciation for music, students are encouraged to take other lessons away from the program such as the importance of team work and dedication.
“Another part of the program that’s so important is trying to present a concept that is beyond music,” said Fettig. “During the program they talk about team-building and working together. The lessons apply to music but also transcends into other concepts including school, sports or student organizations. Understanding these concepts is important to the children’s development as they’re growing up.”
The MITS program has been expanding since its inception in the 1950s. The program no longer focuses solely on bringing musical appreciation to young kids but the Marine Band now works closely with many area high schools helping young adults develop their musical skills.
“When we bring the MITS program in the high schools we are helping the students hone their skills as musicians,” said Fettig. “At the high school level they have already been exposed to music, we want to help them take their musical talents to the next level.”
Throughout the year, the band performs regularly at the White House and for thousands of spectators at more than 500 public performances across the nation as well as at every Friday Evening performed by the Barracks.