Joe's Job: Army band conductor

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by Joe Flanagan, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on June 12, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 12 at 8:25 PM

NEWPORT NEWS--The Training and Doctrine Command Band at Fort Eustis invited Joe to try his hand, and baton, at conducting.

Joe was training under Major Leo Peña, who asked him to jump right in.  He wanted Joe to see how the band would speed up or slow down based on the movement of the stick.

Major Peña explained how a conductor will study a piece of music months in advance to understand the composer's intent.

"The dynamic progressions of the piece... is it from another piece of work, such as a ballet or opera? What's the intent? You know what's going on behind the story.  Is there something there?" asked Major Peña.

The 45 musicians were very talented and Joe was feeling very nervous.

Major Peña said top conductors are immersed in the study of the pieces they conduct.

"Rehearsal is probably two hours a day and the other six hours a day, for the entire week, is studying the music," added Peña.

First Lt. Silas Huff is another conductor. He's been in the Army only three years and says he loves the skill level of the musicians he works with.

"They've worked together so long that they really lead themselves from time to time.  It makes the job of conductor and the job of an Army leader relatively easy when you get fantastic NCO's like them," said First Lt. Huff.

Joe thanked the troops for their service and wondered what he would bring to the band.

"We all have our idea, but it has to be unified and it's his job to bring that out in us," said Staff Sgt Dale McGibony.

Joe conducted the band for over three minutes as they played "The Stars and Stripes Forever."

Joe said conducting was a thrilling experience.  "The powerful feeling of influencing that group of professionals was intense," Joe said. 

Joe even got applause from the band.

So, how would Joe Flanagan do as a conductor?

"I think you showed a lot of promise.  It's never too late to start studying any art. With some training, I think you would do quite well," concluded Major Peña. 

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