Students rose from their chairs in Concord High School’s music room and swayed to the beat as they played their clarinets, flutes, saxophones and trumpets on Friday morning. Colonel Jason Fettig, director of the US Marine Band, encouraged the students to get up and move around in place to get a better idea of the music they were playing – a band piece called The Eighth Candle by Steve Reister.
“There are really important and interesting lessons you can take from music that you really love and feel really connected to,” Fettig told the students. “Finding that physicality in the music, finding that imagery in your mind that helps you understand how it fits together.”
Members of the ‘President’s Own’ US Marine Band visited Concord High School band and orchestra students for a 90-minute class period on Friday, to work with them on technical skills and help them improve the pieces they have prepared for upcoming performances.
Down the hall from the CHS Library Orchestra Room, U.S. Marine Band bassist Master Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Clay worked with the CHS Orchestra, showing violin, viola, cello and bass students how to tap their bows on their strings legno collar while playing Stravinsky’s theme from The Rite of Spring.
Upstairs on the school auditorium stage, percussionist U.S. Marine Band Master Sgt. Jonathan Bisesi worked with a group of 14 CHS percussion students, practicing a pentatonic scale with mallets on xylophones.
The US Marine Band came to Concord this week as part of a Northeast tour, after a two-year touring hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. The band performed a concert in the auditorium of Concord High School on Thursday night, which was the only performance from New Hampshire on this tour.
The group, which was founded in 1798, is the oldest continuously active professional musical organization in the United States. The band’s mission is to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and has performed for every US President since John Adams.
“In any field, it’s important for students to see people who are at the top of their field, to show them what’s possible,” said Gabe Cohen, music teacher at Concord High School. “I think these are great opportunities for kids to see what jobs are out there.”
Concord High wasn’t the only school the Marines visited on Friday. Fifteen miles away, at John Stark Regional High School in Weare, saxophonist Master Sgt of the US Marine Band. Connor Mikula has worked with students from the John Stark Group on topics such as sound production and good practice habits.
After working on the concert piece, the students of the Concord High School band performed their 10-minute marching band show piece for Fettig, and he gave them advice.
Concord High School Flautist Ella White said she noticed an improvement in the band’s playing after the clinic with Fettig.
“To be able to rehearse a concert piece, especially one that we hadn’t really tried before, and see how far it could go as a short clinic, it was really amazing,” White said.
White, who is also a drum major in the marching band, vocalist and president of the school’s Tri-M Music Honor Society, plans to major in music in college with the goal of one day becoming a music teacher at the school. ‘school.
“As someone who wants to be a conductor at some point, watching [Fettig] the ride was amazing the way he got into it and was so smooth about it,” White said. “The fact that I can see this as a budding musician is really, really amazing.”
Fettig, who is from Manchester, told students how he got his start in music as a student at Manchester Central High School, and performed with a student wind quintet on a scholarship to Concord Community Music School before going to college at UMass. Amherst.
“Musicality is really hard, and it’s one of the most important things you’ll have as you grow up,” Fettig told the students. “No matter what you’re studying, you’ll think about those times and think about that community and working together and meeting challenges together.”
Cohen said hearing Fettig’s story from his early days in Granite State and his rise to a top national ensemble is important for motivating students.
“I think it’s important for kids to hear that these people in these very successful positions come from the same place,” Cohen said. “It’s accessible to everyone if you want to make it happen.”