So you want to be an Army Music Officer?

I’ve written here and there about my job and the satisfaction I get serving as an Army Music Officer, but so many people – both civilians and military – ask me how I became an Army Music Officer. Having been in the Army for over 17 years now (gulp) and having served as the Army Music Officer auditions coordinator for three years, I think I have as good a perspective as any on the process.

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Episode VI: The Return of the Blogger (Part 2)

After a vacation for the ages with my wife and her family, we said goodbye to Virginia Beach and the Army School of Music, which had been our home for five years. We’ll always carry a lot of wonderful memories to go with the occasional headaches, but we were more than ready to move on to our next adventure – Korea. Thankfully, our flight to Korea took us through Seattle, giving us the opportunity to visit with two of our closest friends and their family before the long flight through Japan to Osan Airforce Base. When we finally did arrive at United States Army Garrison Yongsan, which is located in the Republic of Korea’s capital city of Seoul, we were excited to hit the ground running, taking very little time before wondering off base. Continue reading

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Episode VI: The Return of the Blogger (Part 1)

It’s been a long, long time since I last published a post on this blog. I could say I had a good reason, but the truth is I let my busy work schedule be an excuse to do other things…like watch “Blacklist” and “Agents of Shield.” The truth is that I think deep down I felt like I had said all I wanted to say about my time at the Army School of Music – I was there for five years after all – and was hoping that a return to the “operational” domain (i.e., serving at a band) would inspire me to write again…almost true. I did feel inspired to write again, but I also felt a little overwhelmed with moving to a foreign country and the new job, so I again made excuses. No more. For the five of you who have been hoping I would return to this space, the wait is over. Continue reading

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Things I learned (while sweating my butt off)

Well, I’ve been back in the States for a little over a month and had time to recharge and reflect on my time serving as USARCENT Bands LNO. Besides the invaluable experience I gained working on the USARCENT staff, I came away with a few important lessons: Continue reading

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Amman or Bust

Last week, after months of coordination, I was able to finally travel to Jordan to meet with the Jordanian Armed Forces Band leadership and their Music Advisor from the British Military Advisory Team.  While our good friends from the UK are embedded with the Jordanians as advisors and trainers, the Jordanians are interested in supplementing this with training at the U.S. Army School of Music.  My trip to Jordan was a direct result of them contacting me while back at the School of Music when I was serving as the Director of Training.  Since I knew I was coming to the area, we tentatively planned to meet in person.  It took some doing to line up our schedules (including accounting for Ramadan), but I was finally able to make it out last week. Continue reading

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Celebrating the Fourth

So, I’m a little late writing this post…A couple of weeks ago, the Army Ground Forces Band (FORSCOM Band) sent their cover band to the area to perform for troops around the Fourth. This was the trip I started planning a couple of weeks after I arrived, and it was great to finally see it happen.

I knew the Loose Cannons was going to be good, but you never know until they start playing and you hear that first vocal. As expected, they were fantastic, performing an updated set list. The first full day in country, the band worked with the contracted sound and lighting guys in the venue they were going to play in on the Fourth – a large, air-conditioned “tent” that sounded like a gymnasium. The position of the stage was probably the worst place it could be acoustically, and during the initial sound check, the sound guys had a terrible time getting the band to sound like…the band; despite the fact that the event planners wanted the band surrounded by games and activities like a carnival, we decided that we needed to move the stage. Though the picture wouldn’t be as nice, the music would be a lot better…and it was. Continue reading

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Hands Across the…Desert

Last Monday I had the opportunity to go to Qatar – my first trip out of Kuwait. I flew out Monday because there were no flights available Sunday or Saturday, and I couldn’t  get on a flight the previous Tuesday or Wednesday. Flying Space-Required (Space-R) is not exactly a sure thing; it’s barely one step removed from Space-A.

With Space-A, you probably have the flexibility to wait around all day to be told, “sorry, maybe tomorrow.” With Space-R, you probably have someplace to be but don’t have enough rank to get a seat; so the only difference with Space-R is that you’ll need to call the person you had a meeting with and postpone it. Perhaps more than once. But, I finally did get on a plane – a C130 – with one other passenger and a big payload of cargo. I arrived at Al Udeid Airbase (which is actually a Qatari base with an American base nestled within it) in the late morning, went through customs, checked in with billeting, and dropped off my stuff in the open bay I was going to be staying in. Continue reading

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