Got what it takes to play with the 202nd Army Band? Pending retirements will leave large hole in ensemble

MJO

Story and photos by Pfc. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Sgt. Sharon R. Cates and Spc. Catie M. Delacruz, clarinet players for the 202nd Army Band, practice a musical number. Cates recently took a voluntary rank deduction to stay in the band. Delacruz recently transferred into the unit from a different state. Photo by Pfc. Brandy Mort, 133rd MPAD

FRANKFORT Ky., — For the next two years, the Kentucky National Guard’s Frankfort, Ky.-based 202nd Army Band will audition musicians across the Commonwealth for a chair among the award winning music group.

More than half, 24 out of 40 of the Citizen-Soldier musicians assigned to the band will retire or meet their contractual obligation to the military by 2013.

“We are looking for the best and the brightest to play with us,” said unit 1st Sgt. James E. Wallace.

The 202nd is tasked with providing musical support to the Kentucky National Guard by playing at official ceremonies and to serve the morale, welfare and recreational needs of Soldiers to enhance their fighting capability.

Currently, slots are available for musicians who play the clarinet, euphonium, flute, French horn, guitar, keyboard, piano, saxophone, trombone and tuba. Wallace said the Kentucky National Guard Band provides another outlet for musicians to continue to practice their craft while serving a cause that is greater than one’s self.

“We have soldiers from all over Kentucky,” he said. “We have music educators, college professors and professional musicians.”

The average age of most recruits who enter the 202nd is 25-to-27-years-old. While some recruits are able to walk right into a recruiting station and sign the dotted line, bandsmen must audition with the unit prior to being accepted into the Kentucky Guard.

1st Sgt. James E. Wallace, 202nd Army Band, shows the "Col. George S. Howard Citation of Musical Excellence for Military Concert Bands" award. The 202nd Army Band is only the 5th National Guard unit to receive this award. Photo By: Pfc. Brandy Mort, 133rd MPAD

Spc. Brandon N. Tagarook, keyboard player in the 202nd Army Band, practices "Black Bird" with other members of the band on Feb. 6, 2011. Tagarook presses the keys while reading the music sheet at the same time. Photo By: Pfc. Brandy Mort, 133rd MPAD

Catherine A. Strobel, newest recruit for the 202nd, recently auditioned and signed a contract with the Guard. She was tested by the Army School of Music standards in which musicians must score at least 18 of 36 points to pass.

“I’ve always been interested in serving in the military,” said Strobel. “I feel as being a musician would be the best way for me to serve.”

Strobel’s next mission is to complete Basic Combat Training and then attend Advanced Individual Training at the Army School of Music located at the Little Creek Amphibious Naval Base, Norfolk, VA.

For more information on how you can join the Kentucky National Guard’s 202nd Army Band, contact Sgt. 1st Class Angela Wilkins, 502-607-5331 or your nearest Kentucky National Guard recruiter.

About kentuckyguard