Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. -- Musicians with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band prepare for Marine Week Seattle, July 26 - Aug. 3, where they are slated to perform several times daily.
During their time in Seattle, the band intends to showcase all different aspects of their musical arsenal, allowing the American public to enjoy their abilities and show off the capabilities of the Marine Corps.
Although the band still continues to support local commitments like changes of command and retirements, they still hold daily rehearsals to wow crowds in Seattle.
“We have some of the best musicians this country has to offer, I’m confident in that,” said Warrant Officer Andres Navarro, 3rd MAW Band officer in charge. “One of the characteristics of a Marine is that they do what is needed. They don’t offer excuses or roadblocks, they tackle the roadblocks and they make it happen. That kind of disposition and mentality is very hard to find, and I think that is the difference between our band and other bands.”
Despite how busy their job might sound; busy days are common for these Marine musicians. A typical day consists of rehearsal time, individual practice, physical training and annual training required of all Marines, such as physical and combat fitness tests. The musicians also memorize sound sheets for more than 40 different songs and conduct regularly scheduled auditions to keep their skills sharp.
Their dedication to the mission sometimes requires a major time commitment; often times the Marines perform during traditional holiday leave periods. The band recently took leave as a unit and is now getting back into the swing of things to prepare for their trip to Marine Week Seattle.
“During the summer, when schools let out, is when a majority of the change of command ceremonies take place for the installation,” said Sgt. Stephan Way, French horn instrumentalist and vocalist with the 3rd MAW Rock Band. “It’s during this time that we are packed for performances. We may do five, six or even seven ceremonies a week, sometimes three in a day. Sometimes we may not even have time to eat; you take your food on the bus with you and eat as fast as you can before you get back out to play again. I can’t complain though, because I get paid to do what I love.”
Musicians with the band allow music to pervade their lives, not because it is what they do, but who they are, and that allows them the chance to grow. Some of the sets the band is slated to perform for their trip to Seattle might not exist at all if it weren’t for how the band looks at training its Marines.
“One of the reasons I like working with this band particularly is because of the opportunities to grow out of playing just your specific instrument,” said Way. “This band allows us to use our own experiences, like composing music or any other skill that involves music, and put them to use here. They give that opportunity to any rank, not just to the senior enlisted.”
Traditionally, drummers gave Marines a cadence to march to when they went into battle, and buglers would signal directions. Today’s Marine Corps music has evolved to allow the band to provide both cadences to the Marines and entertainment to guests; but, that isn’t all.
“Music can make people feel in ways that nothing else can, which is what makes it so special,” said Cpl. Tony Overkamp, a percussionist with the 3rd MAW Band. “Words, photos and most other things just can’t compare to what music can make you feel – and we do that. We help people to feel, and that’s one of the greatest things for me as a musician. I’m providing someone a service that they don’t think about that often, and I couldn’t be happier doing that for them.”
Services the band provides include: ceremonial performances, such as change of command and retirement ceremonies, parades, events, and special performances by the rock band and party band.