ROCHESTER, NY --
Hundreds of high school students from throughout New York flocked to the Rochester Riverside Convention Center Dec. 4 – 7 for the sake of their passion of music. The New York State School Music Association 79th Annual Winter Conference provided the chance for students to perform and learn in many doctrines of music from jazz to orchestral.
Students eager to continue their musical talents past high school also had the opportunity to learn about positions in the oldest professional music organization in the U.S., the Marine Band. The Conference enabled Marines from 1st Marine Corps District, Eastern Recruiting Region to meet with high school students and musicians and answer questions about the Marine Music Program.
Through the Marine Music Program, students of music can apply to join The Commandant’s Own Drum and Bugle Corps, or one of 10 Marine Bands throughout the Corps.
“Being here, we can meet with many qualified and talented musicians that we wouldn’t be able to speak to normally,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan P. Bley, musician placement director for 1st MCD and Buffalo, N.Y. native. “We are looking for individuals who have been playing their instrument for years, which means there’s a smaller pool of qualified individuals than from other occupations in the Marine Corps. Being here helps plant the seed that there are opportunities after high school to keep playing.”
Marie Dewey from Whitney Point High School, N.Y. was one such student seeking information about ways for her to continue on as a flutist.
“Music is my life,” said Dewey who has been playing for nine years. “I’ve been interested in joining the Marines for a while, but I didn’t exactly know who to talk [to] about joining the Band. I was able to play for the Gunny, and see what next steps I need to take for applying. I’m definitely looking forward to doing something like this is in the future.”
The Marine Music Program recruits musicians who specialize in both a broad spectrum of instruments and musical styles. Bass players can join a unit’s jazz ensemble or french horn players can join a brass quintet.
“Being a part of the Marine Band opens up a wide range of opportunities to musicians,” added Bley. “You could find yourself playing for distinguished members of the military and congress during the Summer Evening Parade at 8th and I in Washington D.C. to playing overseas in a foreign country as part of a parade.”
Without the hard work of musician placement directors and recruiters, many musicians would not have the means to continue their art. Their continued efforts working at events like the NYSSMA Winter Conference means, flutists, trumpeters, saxophonists, and many other musicians can continue harmonizing through the years as part of a 216-year legacy.
New England Musicians interested in becoming part of the Marine Band, please contact GySgt. Jonathan Bley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 516-972-8702 for more information.