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AMC bands build bridges with STEM

  • Published
  • By Candy Knight, Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE — Air Mobility Command bands are serving a leading role in education outreach efforts for the Air Force. 

As Air Mobility Command seeks to use the arts to build bridges with the community, the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America’s Mobility Brass Quintet energized, entertained and informed students and staff at schools in the Metro-East St. Louis area March 12 to 16. 

Leveraging the 33rd annual Music in Our Schools Month, Air Mobility Command bands, assigned to Scott AFB, Ill. and Travis AFB, Calif., will perform in 47 different schools across six states in the month of March.

The performances are part of AMC’s broader Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math program, known as STEAM. Air Mobility Command is looking to get Airmen into schools to help complement education near AMC installations, and provide students enhanced understanding of avenues available to them in the Air Force. 

Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, AMC commander, said his Airmen are committed to working STEAM initiatives to bolster interest in the Air Force, enhance relationships with local schools, and creates avenues for future interaction to include follow on engagement in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.
“STEM skills are foundational to success as an Air Force and nation,” Everhart said. “We want to partner with schools to help share our experiences and let students know that if they work hard, there is a place for them on our team. Our talented and innovative musicians create memorable learning opportunities for students, aiding local education efforts and paving the way for future interaction.”

The band aimed to encourage creative openness to experience, which scholars have called a predictor of professional outcomes. The Mobility Brass Quintet performed a 45-minute set of classical and popular music, including a rousing version of “Uptown Funk,“ which had students and teachers, singing and dancing to the music. The performances also permitted younger students to be introduced to the Air Force via curriculum that is more traditional to school settings, creating valuable lessons and grabbing their attention. 

“I loved it and the kids loved it,” said Mary DeLeonardis, Mascoutah Elementary School social worker. “It was great seeing the way the younger students reacted during the trumpet-led Spanish song.” DeLeonardis said she could tell that the band connected with the students when the children began clapping to the beat and signing the words without any prompting.
Drew Grotefendt, a 3rd grade student at Alhambra Primary School, said he knew only a little about the Air Force before the day of the performance.

“I know the Air Force helps our country and makes things better,” he said after the performance.  

Aiden Herrod, 5th grader at Mascoutah Elementary, who is first-chair trumpet in the school’s band, said band members gave him some great advice, and helped him see an avenue to pursue his interests while serving the nation.

“I’m thinking of being a musician when I grow up, maybe a piano or trumpet player,” he said. “They told me to keep practicing and work hard and I’ll achieve my goals.”

Having Air Force musicians visit schools allows the Air Force to use the “A” in STEAM as an introduction and storytelling element to highlight other Air Force mission areas.   

For example, Staff Sgt. Matthew Kirkpatrick, BOMA trumpet player, introduced the song Malagueña by starting a conversation about how AMC can rapidly take people and things to anywhere in the world … and then offered to take the audience to Spain, just before the brass instruments began to play this Spanish song.

“It’s nice that [BOMA] can provide this component,” said Staff Sgt. Helen Giammarco, Mobility Brass Quintet operations manager. “It’s great that we can help enhance their knowledge of AMC’s mission.”

“Military musicians are an integral part of the Defense Department’s ability to reach the next generation,” added Lt. Col. Michael Willen, USAF Band of Mid-America commander. “Not only do they demonstrate the professionalism of today’s military, but they also reinforce the value of a good education and healthy, drug-free living.”

Band performances highlight AMC’s dedication to having a more active presence in schools near AMC bases and elsewhere, getting more Airmen involved with schools and bringing students to military installations.   

“Our musicians enable access to schools, enhance arts curriculum, create experiences and generates interest in our Air Force,” Everhart said. “You never know where an impression will be made or a connection built. Fostering enhanced relationships with schools improves family readiness and our ability to execute the mission.”