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Marine Corps Fleet Music Program

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Headquarters Marine Corps Communication Directorate
Marine Corps Fleet Music Program

Marine Music News

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A member of the III MEF band coaches students on point during a sectional lesson for each instrument. 楽器ごとに分かれてのレッスンで、生徒らにポイントポイントで指導する第三海兵遠征軍音楽隊員。

Photo by Yoshie Makiyama


21 May 2023 | Yoshie Makiyama Marines Music

At Jonan Elementary School in Shuri, Naha, the former seat of the Ryukyu Dynasty, 19 members of the brass band were practicing for their upcoming concert, Saturday, Feb. 25. It is not unusual to see club activities on weekends in Japan, but for these students, the day took on a different meaning.

A little after 9:00 a.m., nine members of the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band of the Marines Corps in Okinawa appeared at the school gate. They came to give music lessons to the children of the Jonan Elementary School brass band.

According to Asako Ishimura, a community relations specialist, G-7, Government and External Affairs, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, although the Marine Band has visited local schools to perform in the past, this is the first time they have held a clinic at an elementary school.

Yukino Niihara, a parent of a fifth grader who has been a brass band member since October, welcomed the Marines, saying, "I couldn't believe it when I heard that Ms. Ishimura had asked us if we wanted to receive a Marine band lesson and our parents' association president replied ‘yes,’” with a big smile on her face.

Upon arrival, III MEF band members carried their heavy instruments with ease and immediately began preparing for their performance before the clinic. After welcoming speeches by parents and the school band captain, the Marines performed about 20 minutes for Jonan children.

In announcing the third and final song, Staff Sgt. Michael Barnett, small ensemble leader, hinted that the students would surely know the song. As soon as it began, the children's faces lit up. The song the Marines played was that of what the elementary band would perform at their next concert.

When parents told Barnett that it was a good arrangement, he revealed that he had been looking for a song for their next performance about two weeks ago and the piece he chose was coincidentally the same one the children had been practicing for their concert.

After watching the Marines play, Shu Teruya, a third-year student at Shuri Junior High School and a graduate of the Jonan Elementary School's brass band club, commented, "I felt that many Japanese people tend to think a lot when they play, and play with a lot of restraint, but the Marines all played happily, and I was overwhelmed. I felt that the way they breathed into their instruments was different from the Japanese."

The next part of the schedule divided the students into sections by instrument. Woodwinds, trumpet, low brass, and percussion instruments were taught, each accompanied by III MEF band members. In all groups, the Marines were lively yet serious.

According to Barnett, the sectional lessons for each instrument allow for more in-depth instruction on fundamentals such as how to play, what makes an instrument sound good, matching timing, and proper breathing.

In the trumpet room, the children learned a wide range of skills, including how to exhale and how to strengthen the muscles around the mouth. They listened to the teachings through interpreters who volunteered to support the clinic.

"We are doing our best to pass our knowledge to the younger generation. I am honored to be a part of this.” Sgt. Ricardo Hernandez, trumpet player, said they taught the basics that they themselves practice on a daily basis.

After the Marines shared some music fundamentals, the children began practicing their areas of weakness, and the Marines repeatedly taught the children until they got the rhythm and sound right.

“We learned how to breathe in and out for strong and weak notes, and how to take a breather. I was nervous at first, but I relaxed while we practiced in sections," said Sora Inaba, vice-president of the school band.

One of the clarinet players from school said that she, at first, thought Marine members looked stern and scary, but when she saw them up close during the performance, they were in rhythm and seemed to be having fun. She said even when students made mistakes or did not have the same rhythm, Marines encouraged them to try their best to match up, and showed them the example.

Before long, it was 11:00 a.m., and all the members from different sections gathered in the music room. For the last hour, the two bands rehearsed together. At an hour of joint rehearsal, the conductor and members of the III MEF band repeated the performance, giving instructions to the children on the parts they spotted. A member of the Marine band would play a piece, and the elementary school students would listen, try, and then immediately correct their own problem areas. When the children finally performed in full, the observing parents and volunteers all cheered and applauded.

Yuko Kobashigawa, who has been involved with the brass band for the past eight years and has been a volunteer coach for the last four years, said, "It is not easy to get this kind of opportunity, even if you pay for it. In music, no amount of verbal instruction will help you understand. You learn by hearing a good sound.”

“The best way to teach is to play together.” Kobashigawa stated when children see someone playing happily and in a groove near them, they take it directly from that. “You have to see it live to understand. I think they absorbed a year's worth of lessons in one day."

“I was over the moon," said Master Gunnery Sgt. J. Michael Stanley, bandmaster of III MEF Band, when he was first informed of the idea of the music clinic by Ishimura. “With our Marines, getting into (the local) schools and playing, performing, teaching, and sharing our talent with the children and having them share their talent with us, it’s truly a cultural exchange. I felt like there would be probably nothing that builds relationships better than this type of outreach.”

Stanley stated that at the end of the day, what really matters is relationships; and music can play a really great role in connecting and bonding people, not only in the spirit of artistic creativity, but also in the spirit of building bridges between cultures.







 粋な計らいだとの声にバーネット小アンサンブルリーダーは、2週間ほど前に、 彼ら自身の次の公演の曲を探していたところ、選んだ曲が、偶然にも子供たちも演奏会に向けて練習していた曲だったと明かした。

 隊員らの演奏を見て、 同小学校吹奏楽部卒業生で首里中学校3年生の照屋朱さんは「日本人は、演奏する時に色々考えて縮こまって吹く人が多いと感じるけれど、海兵隊員はみんな楽しく吹いていて、圧倒されました。息の入れ方とかが日本人と違うように感じました」と感想を述べた。




 トランペット奏者のリカルド・エルナンデス三等軍曹は、「私たちの知識を若い世代に伝えるために、最善を尽し ています。その一端を担うことができ、光栄に思います」と言い、彼ら自身が日常的に実践している基本的なことを指導していると話した。