2017: 10 Years of Marching Music

The Army Bowl enters its 17th year this coming week in San Antonio, TX. It wasn’t until 2007 that it was determined that a traditional halftime show was exactly what the Army Bowl needed. To provide the CliffsNotes version of the story, the 2008 USAAAMB was formed. After all, what football game doesn’t involve a marching band? 2017 also marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. In many conversations with USAAAMB Program Manager, Brian Prato, he always mentioned simply hoping for a year two after year one. He also mentions keeping a trashcan nearby and during that first performance, just in case. After many challenges and proud moments, 2017 brings a whole new light to the program.

Each year has brought fond – but different – memories for the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band members. Thinking back to 2009, I distinctly remember the Crossmen food truck meals and over-sized rehearsal tees and wind suits. 2015 was the year of wind and rain…oh and yellow rehearsal outfits – like, REALLY yellow. While many things have changed the All-American experience, a few things remain – the lasting impressions of the U.S. Army and the memories shared by long-time friends.

Over 1200 band and colorguard students have walked through the tunnel of the Alamodome, donned in a DeMoulin uniform, show makeup and hair, and united by the common love of performance. It is the involvement of the U.S. Army that makes the experience of the USAAAMB truly unique.

Increased media presence, the switch to adidas branded gear, and a growing operations team are things that come to mind when thinking of the changes the USAAAMB experienced. The list could go on and on. The band has rehearsed at Lackland Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston, and many more pins on the map. An experience such as the one provided by the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band simply stands alone.

Years have gone by and many alumni have married, had children, and are exploring a degree or career. A group of alumni will be reuniting in San Antonio this year to celebrate the incoming 2017 class and share the common thread of the marching arts once again.

On behalf of all the alumni, thank you to the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Field Band, the National Association for Music Education, Drum Corps International (DCI), Jupiter Band InstrumentsDeMoulin Brothers Uniforms and a crowd of additional supporters that grant this opportunity to young musicians and colorguard members each year. A short trip to San Antonio leaves a lasting impression on all of us!

**ALUMNI – share your memories in the comments below! What stands out from your year in San Antonio?


From Lucas Oil to the Alamodome, the All-Americans in Drum Corps

Between the 125 All-Americans, nearly every member is involved in music outside of marching band. Whether they perform in concert band, orchestra, indoor drumline, or winterguard, the All-Americans keep busy year-round. Twenty of these talented members take their dedication to music to the next level by participating in drum corps during the summer. Many of these participants perform in Drum Corps International, which is often described as marching music’s major league. We applaud the All-American’s extreme dedication to the marching arts and constant drive towards excellence. Meet some of these talented members below and see how music has affected their lives!

USAAAMB2016-Brandon Coplen

Bass Drum

Jersey Surf 2015

“Drum corps and music in general is one of the few places where I feel like I fit in. I can express myself in the way that I love and perform with some of the best people.”

JeremyCoverJeremy Cover


Music City 2013, Spirit of Atlanta 2014, 2015, Carolina Crown 2016

“Drum corps is about pushing yourself past what you thought you could do and pursuing excellence as well as growing with the corps as a family.

David CurtisDavid Curtis

Front Ensemble

Cavaliers 2014, 2015

“To me, the marching arts are all about passion. Passion for music, passion for performing, and a passion for life.”


DevamDevam Dhawan

Bass Drum

Spartans 2013, 2015, 2016

“After drumming takes up a third of your life, drum corps is the only option left. Drum corps is something that has truly changed my life for the better and I don’t know where I would be without it.”

Mathew Duenas-Mathew Dueñas


Guardians & Colts 2014

“The amazing thing about drum corps is that after that very first camp, I was no longer by myself. Later on, all of us with a similar goal in mind had the greatest summer putting our show on the field.”

Arjun DurbhakulaArjun2

Snare Drum

Blue Devils B 2013, Bluecoats 2014

“The invaluable lessons I have learned have not only helped me understand the world around me, they have helped me understand myself.”

Cari EarnhardtCariEarnhardt


Jersey Surf 2012, Academy 2013-2015

“Drum corps instilled in me an open minded attitude toward others, self awareness, and a priority of physical fitness. It has also taught me to put my everything into all that I do no matter the circumstances.”

Billy HowellBilly Howell


Music City 2014, Cavaliers 2015

“No matter how hot or hard the days may be there will always be 159 other people by your side fighting for the same end goal. And that to me is truly amazing.”

Brianna KelleyBrianna Kelley

Color Guard

Fusion “Core” 2010-2016

“The thrill of performing with this family is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It pushes you past your limits and makes you a stronger person mentally and physically.”

BrianKoBrian Ko


Jersey Surf 2014, Phantom Regiment 2016

“Drum corps is an opportunity to not only become the best performer that you can possibly be, but also to become the best version of yourself.”

Nan Nan LiuNanNanLiu

Bass Drum

Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets 2014, 2015

“Drum corps is a unique and life changing activity. To be presented constantly with opportunities to push ourselves to and past what we had previously thought was our limits is something incredible.”

Jacob LythgoeJacob Lythgoe


The Academy 2014-2016

“Drum corps has taught me how to push myself beyond my limits and has given me the opportunity to experience two of the hardest but most rewarding summers.”

Zachary LythgoeZacharyLythgoe


The Academy 2014-2016

“Drum corps has been the hardest and most rewarding experience of my life. I’ve met great people and traveled to places I never thought I’d go. I’m grateful for everyone who has taught me to become a better person, on and off the field.”

Alison MichalkeAlison Michalke


Legends 2014, 2015

“When I know that I am inspiring people on a daily basis I know I have done my job on the field.”


Coral NavarreCoral Navarre


Boston Crusaders 2014, 2015

“Alongside to becoming a better musician and performer, I learned traits of leadership, teamwork, and so many others that have shaped me into who I am today.”

CaseySaitowCasey Saitow

Color Guard

Spartans 2012-2015

“Drum corps for me has been an experience and a half. The main thing it has taught me is if you want something bad enough, you have to work for it.”

Brian SpencerBrian Spencer

Snare Drum

Spartans 2013-2015

“Drum corps literally shows you what family is, how to spend all your time with others and make magic. It teaches you how to have fun, and enjoy the music you are making.”

Taylor WinklerTaylor Winkler


Blue Stars 2015

“No pain no gain. The dependent corps works painfully hard together to total an experience that will draw crowds in from across the nation.”

Makenzie WrightstoneMakenzie Wrightstone

Color Guard

Reading Buccaneers 2013, 2015

“I learned what it’s like to become so close to people at all ages. Being one of the youngest, they took me under their wings and guided me through my first season. Now I consider all of the members my family.”

Ian YountIanYount

Snare Drum

7th Regiment 2014, 2015

“The activity introduced me to people like myself that share a passion for what we do and a drive for perfection.”


To learn more about Drum Corps International or where to see the All-Americans on tour this summer, click here.

Dillon To, A Man of Many Uniforms

DillonTo1Meet PFC Dillon To.

Not only is To a U.S. Army All-American, but he is also a U.S. Army soldier.

Before beginning his last year on tuba for the Roosevelt Rough Rider Marching Band, To spent his summer at Fort Bennington, GA beginning his career in the Army National Guard. The 18-year-old Des Moines student has his eyes set on a future in the military and wasted no time getting started.

To is in the Army National Guard Infantry, primarily working with javelin gunnery. (For those keeping score at home, Parent Unit C Co. 168th INF 34th ID, Current Unit: A Co. RSP). He graduated from basic training on August 13th and will attend a 4 week-long Advanced Individual Training (AIT) next summer to further prepare for his job in the infantry. Although he is only a year into his 6 year commitment, he says that it is a “really adventurous job,” seeing as only 4% of soldiers go into the infantry. Out of the many job options the Army provides, To pursued the infantry because “it’s both physically and mentally challenging,” which his martial arts background helped prepare him for.

As a part of his commitment to the National Guard, To dedicates one weekend a month, and two full weeks a year to drills and training. The Average National Guard Soldier works full-time in the office, the field, or classroom of their civilian job before reporting to their part-time drills on the weekends and summers. To makes the same commitment, but with a twist. The soldier-student is balancing his dedication to the military along with the usual stresses of being a high school senior. Underneath the camouflage uniform, he’s just like any other student approaching graduation. His calendar is filled with SAT dates, college application deadlines, and possibly even an upcoming prom. He makes light out of his heavy schedule though, saying, “I just like keep myself busy, I just can’t stand still.”

Military drills and lengthy trainings aside, To is presenting college application boards with an impressive resume. He holds a part-time job as a Tai Kwon Do instructor, is a 2nd degree black belt, serves as the Cadet Captain and Company Commander for his JROTC program, and participates in three music ensembles at his school including marching band, jazz band, and honor band. Although marching band is only a small sliver in the crazy schedule of To, he thanks his four years in the Rough Rider Marching Band for preparing him for his busy life. Because of the long rehearsals and extreme attention to detail required in marching band, he says he has become better at time management and has become a more adaptable person.

Although To has many influential people in his life to thank for his success so far, his band director Mr. Treg Marcellus is at the top of his list. Thanks to the help of Mr. Marcellus who pushed him beyond his limits, To now has a unique opportunity at bowl week. He says, “It is a huge honor that I could represent the Army in another way out of uniform” and combine his two passions of music and the military. He is incredibly humbled to not only be selected as an All-American, but also to be the only 2016 All-American currently serving in the Armed Forces.

After the stadium lights are turned out and the excitement of bowl week is over, To will return to business as usual. He will continue to teach Tae Kwon Do and lead his JROTC cadets up until graduation before he leaves for AIT training in the summer heat. To has not replied to any college acceptances yet but he has his eyes on a few in the Midwest area. Regardless of where he chooses to study, he plans to major in international relations and participate in the ROTC program. Once he obtains his degree, he hopes to be commissioned as an Army officer to begin yet another era of service with the Army.

To_Dillon_RooseveltHS_IA (52)

All in the Family: Meet the USAAAMB Twins

The 2016 U.S. Army All-American Marching Band boasts talented high school seniors from across the country. Some are from the same state, some are from the same high school, and a select few are even from the same family.

Sydney and Emily Carpentier of Los Alamitos, California only ever tricked one teacher by switching identities. That was April Fool’s Day in 5th grade, a year before the identical twins joined beginning band at the encouragement of their parents.

Performing together isn’t unusual for the Carpentiers. With Sydney on tenor sax and Emily on trumpet, both are members of the Los Alamitos High School wind symphony, marching band, and top jazz band. Both have been selected for the 2016 Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association Honor Groups Symphonic Band. Last year, they performed in the SCSBOA Honor Jazz Ensemble, and plan to audition again in January.


Emily and Sydney Carpentier

While undecided on what they’d like to study, both Carpentiers are interested in attending California State University, Long Beach. Even if they don’t choose to be music majors, they hope to stay involved by playing in the university’s ensembles.

Jacob and Zachary Lythgoe are brothers, but they’re not twins—they’re triplets. Their sister Rachel plays soccer instead of an instrument. Both boys initially chose to play the trumpet in 5th grade band, and natural fraternal competition and their parents’ role in holding them responsible for practice time soon had them hooked on band. During freshman year at Campo Verde High School, they started marching band, and Zach switched to mellophone and French horn.

The Arizona brothers both play brass in symphonic band and jazz band and play bass 4 and 5 respectively for the Campo Verde Indoor Percussion Ensemble.

Additionally, they have recently begun their 3rd season marching with The Academy Drum & Bugle Corps. Their involvement with the corps started freshmen year, when they attended camps to gain experience before auditioning for the 2014 season and securing lead brass positions.


Jacob and Zach Lythgoe

Jacob plans on studying music education at University of Arizona or Arizona State University, where he would join Zach as he studies physics.

With so many similarities, I asked what major differences there were between the two brothers.

“I’m taller,” Zach said.

“But I’m a minute older,” replied Jacob.

2016 Staff Announcement

The U.S. Army All-American Band is pleased to formally announce our 2016 instructional staff. Hailing from across the country, these world class educators will be instructing the All-Americans in marching, music, and performance during Bowl Week.

Kenneth Bodiford, Director

Dr. KenKen-Bodiford-Headshot1-750x511neth G. Bodiford has served as the Director of Bands and Assistant Professor of Music at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama since 1994. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education at Jacksonville State University, his Master of Music in Music Education and Wind Ensemble Conducting degree at East Carolina University and his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Instrumental Conducting degree from The University of Alabama.

Dr. Bodiford is the conductor of the Jacksonville State University Chamber Winds, which is the top performing wind ensemble at the university. This ensemble has performed for regional and national venues such as the Alabama Music Educators Conference and the Bands of America Concert Festival Regionals. The ensemble also performs on campus and throughout the northeast Alabama and Georgia regions.

Rodney Bailey, Color Guard

Bailey is cuRodney-Bailey-580x750rrently the colorguard designer/choreographer for the Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners. Bailey has been active in Drum Corps International and Winterguard International for nearly twelve years, working with units such as Spirit of JSU Drum and Bugle Corps, Southwi
nd Drum and Bugle Corps, Choctawhatchee High School Winterguard, Castle High School Winterguard and the JSU Center Stage Performance Ensemble. Bailey holds a BA degree in English and a MS degree in Education and is currently an instructor of English at Jacksonville State University.

Jennifer Leseth, Color Guard


Jennifer Leseth is a Chicago native with 30-plus years of performance, instruction and design experience in color guard, drum corps and marching band. Her passion for the art grew from performing with color guards such as Destiny, Guardsmen, State Street Review, and Escapade. Naturally driven to excel she challenged herself with marching with drum corps such as Phantom Regiment and The Cadets. She travels globally to teach including England, Italy, Canada, Japan, Korea, South Africa and, Thailand. Her experience with drum corps includes serving as Color Guard Caption Head for Bluecoats, Crossmen, Phantom Regiment, Madison Scouts, Carolina Crown, and Santa Clara Vanguard. She has been involved with Marion Catholic (IL), Plymouth Canton (MI), Spring High School, Winston Churchill (TX), LD Bell (TX).  She is currently the color guard consultant and designer for the Flower Mound High School Marching Band and serves as the Michigan Color Guard Circuit Education Director.

William Martin, Color Guard

William MartinWilliam Martin has been teaching and choreographing color guards for over 10 years now. He is the currently Color Guard Director at Andy Dekaney High School in Houston, TX. He spent 6 years as the Director of Color Guards at The Woodlands High School (The 2013 BOA Grand National Champions). As an educator Mr. Martin has worked with The Troopers, The Blue Knights, and most recently The Phantom Regiment, Cypress Independent World Color Guard from Cypress, TX, the University of Houston Winterguard. William has been a clinician, consultant, and choreographer throughout the Midwest as well as Texas. As a performer he has performed throughout the U.S., Japan, and Europe. He marched with the Cavaliers for 5 years, where he served as the guard captain his last year. He also marched with The Pride of Cincinnati Winterguard, and Cypress Independent Winterguard. He received his BFA in Acting; Musical Theatre from Wright State University in Dayton, OH.

Andrew Porter, Field Percussion

Andrew-Porter-photo-2-498x750J. Andrew Porter is a percussionist in the West Point Band, serving as an active duty Army Musician at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Staff Sergeant Porter was appointed as a rudimental drummer in the band’s field music group, “The Hellcats”, in 2005. The West Point Band is the oldest continuously serving band in the United States Army. History of the unit dates back to the Revolutionary War period. Staff Sgt. Porter taught general music and band in his home state of Kentucky, and was a percussion specialist in the Dallas, Texas area. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Western Kentucky University, and a Master of Music in percussion performance from Louisiana State University. Staff Sgt. Porter has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Baton Rouge Symphony, Natchez Opera Festival Orchestra, Dallas Wind Symphony, and Brevard Music Center Orchestra, Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps and WGI Independent World Class Champion Music City Mystique. Staff Sgt. Porter has presented clinics for PASIC, KOSA, various PAS state Days of Percussion, and USARD.

Zandra Bell-McRoy, Flute/Clarinet

zandra-bell-mcroy-250Zandra Bell-McRoy is a 2002 graduate from the University of Georgia with degrees in music and music education. She began her education career immediately after graduation as a high school band director in Troup County, GA. Since 2002, she has served as a middle school and high school band director in multiple schools throughout Georgia. She currently serves as the Assistant Band Director of the Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, GA. Bell-McRoy received her Master of Music Education from the University of Georgia in 2006 and is currently a doctoral candidate there for music education. Her research interests include multi-cultural music education, gender and music education, music teacher preparation, and music teacher evaluation and supervision. She has been honored with many teaching awards and has served as the Tau Beta Sigma Women in Music Series speaker for the Southeastern Division Conference. She is currently a flutist with the Tara Winds Symphonic Band and Southern Crescent Symphony Orchestra, as well freelance performances around the Atlanta area.

Bo Sodders, Mellophone

Bo-SoddersMatthew Bo Sodders is the Director of Bands at John McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia. In the past, Sodders has filled the capacity of Director of Bands at Woodland High School in Stockbridge, Georgia and the Assistant Director of Bands at Ola High School in McDonough, Georgia. Under the direction of Sodders, the band programs have received consistent superior ratings at large group performance evaluations, and the marching band has been awarded numerous Grand Champion and First in Class Honors, including a 2011 Bands of America Atlanta Super Regional Finalist. Originally from Lima, Ohio, Sodders graduated cum laude from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio with an instrumental and elementary specialist degree in Music Education. While at BGSU, Sodders studied with trumpet professor Mr. George Novak and conducting with Dr. Emily Freeman Brown. He is currently a member of the brass staff of the Blue Knights.

Ian Hale, Pit Percussion

ian-hale1Ian Hale received degrees in percussion performance from the University of Calgary and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where his teachers included Dr. Glenn Price, Eduardo Leandro and DCI Hall of Fame member Thom Hannum.  He has studied marimba with Leigh Howard Stevens, Gordon Stout, and She-e Wu.  He was a member of the music faculty at UMass from 2007-2008 and served as the Assistant Director of Bands for the Calgary Stampede Showband from 2009-2011.  He is currently the Percussion Director for Spirit of America from Orleans, Massachusetts. Ian has worked with many fine marching music ensembles including the Calgary Stampede Showband, Spirit of America, Thomas Jefferson High School Band, Dartmouth Indoor Percussion, United Percussion, Boston University and the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band.  He was a member of the percussion staff for the Glassmen, the Magic of Orlando and the Madison Scouts and spent 9 years on the percussion staff for the Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps.  He is currently on the percussion staff for the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps. Ian is endorsed by Vic Firth Inc., Remo Inc. and Zildjian Corporation.

Jeremy Stovall, Saxophone

Jeremy-StovallMr. Jeremy Stovall is the Assistant Director of Bands at Jacksonville State University. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and his Master of Arts degrees at Jacksonville State University. In addition to instructing the Marching Southerners, Mr. Stovall also conducts the Symphonic Band, the JSU Pep Band: Hardcorps, and the Saxophone Choir. He also serves as the Music Director and Pit Orchestra Conductor for the Drama Department’s Musicals, and was a past conductor for the Jacksonville Opera Theatre. Jeremy is the faculty sponsor for the Mu Iota chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi and the Epsilon Nu chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia at Jacksonville State University.  Mr. Stovall was a member of the Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps visual staff from 2002-2007, serving as the Visual Caption Head.  Jeremy is sought out as an adjudicator, consultant and drill designer for marching bands throughout the Southeast.  He currently lives in Jacksonville, AL with his wife Noelle Millirons Stovall.

Blair Callaway, Trombone

Blair-Callaway-498x750Blair Callaway is in his twenty-fourth year of teaching and his eighth year as director of the Heritage High School “Legion of Generals.” Blair is a 1982 graduate of Ringgold High School. He received his Masters of Arts Degree from the University of North Alabama in Florence, AL and his Bachelor of Science Degree from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL. His bands have received all superior ratings at district concert festivals and marching contests for the past 17 years. He marched with the Guardsmen, Cavaliers and Suncoast Sound Drum and Bugle Corps. Blair is a member of the Music Educators National Conference, Georgia Music Educators Association, American School Band Directors Association, National Band Association, Georgia Association of Jazz Educators and the Epsilon Nu Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He is the 2015 Heritage High School Teacher of the Year and is a member of Phi Beta Mu. Blair is currently serving as President of the American School Band Directors Association.

Errick Prince, Trumpet

Errick-Prince-e1449093790766-194x240Errick was the Music Captionhead for the famous “Marching Southerners” of Jacksonville State University during his tenure as a Graduate Assistant under Dr. Ken Bodiford. Errick has been a Music Teacher in Georgia and Texas in addition to serving as a High School Marching/Concert/Symphonic Band Judge in the Southeast. Errick is a Park University Music Professor at Randolph and Lackland Air Force Bases. He was also appointed to the United States Air Force Reserve Band prior to serving as a Commissioned Officer in the United States Air Force. He performed as a Ceremonial Trumpeter/Honor Guard Bugler at several assigned duty stations. Errick has also worked as a Contractor for Air Force Entertainment primarily as a “Tops In Blue” Music Ensemble Instructor.
 He currently serves as the Co-Music Supervisor for Spirit of Atlanta and on the brass staff for Bluecoats. He is an alumnus of Spirit of Atlanta and Bluecoats where he was a Soloist/Rookie of the Year/Co-Horn Sergeant for both.
 Errick has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Printup, Rob McConnell, Allen Vizzutti, among many others. Errick is a graduate of Valdosta State University where he studied Trumpet and is a MBA graduate of American Intercontinental University. He is a Charter Member of the Zeta Gamma Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity.

Josh Gall, Tuba

Josh-Gall-501x750Joshua Gall is currently the Assistant Director of the Longhorn Band at The University of Texas at Austin. Gall has served as a both a member and brass specialist for The Cadets, is currently on staff with The Bluecoats, and is a visual designer for Genesis Drum Corps. Currently, he serves in the role of guest clinician, program coordinator, mumsic composer and arranger, and drill writer for over fifteen programs annually and has written over 40 original shows receiving medal distinction in BOA, USSBA, TOB (Tournament of Bands), and WGI.  He is also frequently in demand as a guest conductor for concert ensembles around the country. As an entrepreneur, Gall actively contributes to the music industry as an owner of Ultimate Drill Book. He also has an extensive background in recording and production as he coordinated a family-owned recording and production company for 12 years that specialized in the recording of the performing arts. Gall holds the Bachelor of Music Education degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Music degree in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Florida where he studied with Dr. David Waybright. He is currently completing his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Music Education with a cognate in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Florida.

Daniel Marshall, Intern/Baritone

Daniel-Marshall-500x750A native of Ellijay, Georgia, Daniel Marshall is pursuing a master’s degree in Music Education with an emphasis in Conducting at Jacksonville State University. During his undergraduate career at Jacksonville, he served as Head Drum Major of the nationally-acclaimed Marching Southerners, principal horn of the JSU Chamber Winds, and charter member of Pelham Street Brass, an all-student brass quintet on campus. Daniel is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa, Kappa Kappa Psi, Alabama Winds, and the International Horn Society. He graduated summa cum laude and received the Dr. Clarence William Daugette Award for being the top graduate of his class. As a graduate student, his responsibilities include conducting the JSU Chamber Winds, organizing the JSU Contest of Champions and Jacksonville State Honor Band, and aiding in the teaching of the Marching Southerners.

Jaron Smith, Intern/Baritone

Jaron-SmithJaron Smith, a Georgia native, has studied the world of low brass for many years. During his music career, he studied Euphonium performance at Jacksonville State University and graduated Cum Laude in 2014. During his years of study, he performed as a featured soloist for the JSU Chamber Winds Ensemble, principle euphonium of the JSU Chamber Winds, a member of the Alabama Winds Ensemble, a founding member of the Pelham Street Brass Quintet, a founding member of the Low Blow Tuba Quartet, a member of the Georgia High School All-State Band, Baritone Section Leader for the JSU Marching Southerners, and has also had personal study in performance of all brass instruments including tuba, trombone, and trumpet. Jaron has also held the position of Treasurer for the JSU chapter of the International Tuba Euphonium Association for the past four years. He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Instrumental Music Education from Jacksonville State and works as a Graduate Assistant.



USAAAMB By The Numbers

From drill spots, to yard lines, to eighth notes and count offs, marching band is all about numbers. So what numbers make up the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band?

On the most basic level, the USAAAMB is made up of 125 high school seniors from 30 different states across the country. Between them there are 77 winds, 23 percussion/auxiliary, 24 color guard members, and one drum major. That’s roughly 100 instruments, 14 flags, 10 rifles, and one set of white drum major gloves. These band members have only 24 hours worth of rehearsal to learn, clean, and perform a two-song and five-minute-long halftime show. That’s roughly half a competitive field show performance-ready in less than three days of an average band camp.

Off the field, the USAAAMB boasts some pretty impressive statistics. Of the 100 musicians, 104 members participate in their schools’ concert band. This means that multiple color guard members double as musicians in the band room. Half of the All-American musicians ranked as All-State during their junior year, putting them both top in their state, and in the country. Twenty-four members participate internationally during the summer in DCI, representing 14 different corps including Bluecoats, Cavaliers, Spirit of Atlanta, and The Academy. Nineteen All-Americans are also members of Tri-M, an international music honor society sponsored by the National Association for Music Education, which requires music and academic excellence. Overall, the USAAAMB prides an impressive average GPA of 3.75 with all members in good academic standing at school.

In the fall, 62% of the band will take the next step and pursue music in college. Band members will be majoring in fields such as music performance, music education, music business, composition, and music therapy, among others. Roughly half of the students will choose music performance or music education, with many students opting to double major with engineering, business, or science. Needless to say, being selected as an All-American is more than just being a great musician. These students are role models, both on and off the field.

Make sure to check back for more fun facts and features as we lead up to Bowl Week!

’16 USAAAMB Drum Major Named

This past weekend at Drum Corps International Finals, the USAAAMB was given the opportunity to name their new 2016 U.S. Army All-American Drum Major.

A crowd of over 22,000 was present at this year’s Finals, not including the crowds at preliminary competitions leading up to Saturday evening. Drumline Battle and SoundSport filled the streets of Indianapolis nearly all day on Saturday, concluding with a highly competitive evening of sight and sound at Lucas Oil Stadium. Marching Music’s Major League, as DCI is often deemed, concluded with a third place finish of the Bluecoats (Canton, OH), second place finish of Carolina Crown (Fort Mill, SC) and a first place finish for the Blue Devils (Concord, CA).

At intermission, Paul Nierman, President of the National Association for Music Education, 2015 Drum Major Emily Swanson, Staff Sergeant Jacquelyn Jones, and DM Ceremony2016-2017 Lead Director of the USAAAMB Ken Bodiford welcomed in 2016 Drum Major, Vitaliy Popovych of Heritage High School in Ringgold, GA. Popovych is pictured here in his high school uniform, soon to don the colors of the U.S. Army. The band shako was passed to Popovych as Swanson retires her role as Drum Major.

A night full of emotion for the drum corps performers was equated in the families of these two young musicians. We thank and congratulate 2015 Drum Major Emily Swanson as she continues on to Bowling Green State University, where she plans to be in the college marching band. Popovych will have his official Selection Tour recognition ceremony at his high school this fall so his peers may also share in this honor.


Emily Swanson, Lead Director Dr. Ken Bodiford, and Vitaliy Popovych pose for a photo after the ceremony. Photo credit: Julia Cardillo, DCI

For more information on the 2017 U.S. Army All-American Marching Band, visit nafme.org/usaaamb.

USAAAMB at a DCI event near you this summer!

As the marching arts season gears up for another triumphant run, the USAAAMB joins in!

Every year, we make a point to visit major marching music events to share the opportunity of the All-American program with the Drum Corps International public. We conclude each summer with the “Passing of the Shako” Ceremony during Saturday night’s intermission of DCI World Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where we recognize our new drum major for the upcoming year.

This year’s event plan is entirely different than anything we have executed before. Starting in Hamilton, OH on July 25, our “DCI Fan Van” will follow the tour over 2000 miles to the completion of tour at DCI World Championships in Indianapolis on August 8.

You can find our representatives at the following locations, promoting the band program and speaking to the public about what it takes to become an All-American:

Hamilton, OH – July 25 – Hamilton Drum Corps Classic
Dublin, OH – July 27 – Emerald City Music Games
Erie, PA – July 28 – Lake Erie Fanfare
Chester, PA – July 30 – Tour of Champions: PPL Park
Allentown, PA – July 31 through August 1 – DCI Eastern Classic
Pittsburgh, PA – August 2 – DCI Pittsburgh presented by Three Rivers SUMMER MUSIC GAMES
Centerville, OH – August 3 – Soaring Sounds 36
Indianapolis, IN – August 6 through 8 – DCI World Championships

Students entering their Junior year in the fall of 2015 are welcome to visit with us and ask questions about how the process works! Auditions for the 2017 program are already in the works and will officially open in November 2015. We look forward to speaking with students, parents and band directors about the possibilities for admittance to our program.

Make sure you stop by our booth and get all the info you need for class of 2017 auditions and beyond!

From Piano Lessons, to the Professional World of Music

“Music allows you to develop relationships with teachers and peers, but also requires hours of time alone, self-diagnosing, setting goals, being methodical, deliberate, and ultimately becoming self-reliant.”

A young boy spending the day at Hershey Park notices a loud bang in the distance, and a voice emerges from the echoing music. His mother brings him around the corner to feed his curiosity and the boy sees a group of young men dressed in bright clothing shouting and jumping in excitement to see him. The tallest of the group, microphone in hand, approaches the boy asking if he wants to dance. The boy is hesitant but accepts. From then on through the rest of the day the young boy cannot wipe the smile off of his face as a result of the performers he witnessed that day. To most, the memories of what they saw will fade away, but they will never forget what they felt. The man who brought such happiness to these visitors is named Brad Schoener; whose story is one of courage, hard work, and aspiration.

Brad’s musical influence began at an early age, as both his father and step-mother were music educators. As a result of this, he grew up around music and its powerful touch. At the ripe old age of five, his father began to teach him how to play piano, leading to Brad’s piano focused beginnings in music.
No more than three years later, Brad began learning to play percussion, and once he was in middle school he began to truly dig into this new craft. Intrigued by this new style of performance and the possibilities it brought, he sought to find a new challenge to bring him to the next level of playing. Luckily enough, his older sister was a trumpet player and performed in the high school marching band.
Upon speaking with Brad, he expressed his passion for percussion and how it only grew when he first saw his high school drumline perform. While watching his sister at one of the marching band shows, Brad explains the inspiration he felt.

“I saw the high school drumline and immediately was captured by their performance. I was inspired. I knew that this was what was going to push my playing to the next level.”

I was also lucky enough to hear Brad’s opinions on music and how to this day it still helps him in the real world of music. He explained how every-day life situations can easily be related to any music training and experience he has had, because the lessons are one in the same.

“The way I approach every day scenarios is equitable to all of the music experience I have had. Music allows you to develop relationships with teachers and peers, but also requires hours of time alone, self-diagnosing, setting goals, being methodical, deliberate, and ultimately becoming self-reliant.”

Brad performing in the USAAAMB
Marching band quickly became one of the biggest interests in Brad’s life. He began to feel the difference not simply in his playing, but in his practicing. He began having very focused practice once he began marching band. As he articulated it to me, “before marching band, I consistently practiced, but did not practice correctly consistently. This realization is what made the difference.”

Once high school was drawing to its end, Brad found himself with a new challenge, the USAAAMB. Brad explained that for him, the audition process for the United States Army All-American Marching Band was intimidating. He understood that high school seniors from around the country would be competing for the limited spots in the drumline. Undaunted, he worked hard on the audition materials and continued to hone his musical skills as a percussionist. One of the biggest challenges, he said, was auditioning for snare at the Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps along with the USAAAMB snare line in 2009.

“You can never set your sights high enough. You must find what it is about your craft that motivates you to continue to progress and never let up even when it seems like the odds are against you.”

The USAAAMB was a huge opportunity to create connections and build relationships with the great instructors that taught him there. Some of which to this day he has kept in contact with. They all brought a great positive perspective on teaching of which Brad strives to emulate still today with his music teaching. He recalls the staff treating the students very professionally in terms of their demeanor and expectations.

Brad later became very experienced with drum corps. Brad began with the Jersey Surf (2008-2009), Crossmen (2010), and lastly the Blue Stars (2011-2012).

Brad with the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps

Brad explained that he felt extremely fortunate to have participated in drum corps as long as he did. He was able to travel the country, meet life-long friends, and perform alongside some of the most motivated individuals he will ever meet. He believes that drum corps developed a lot of good habits, not just in drumming, but in day to day life. Something as seemingly inconsequential as promptly waking up in the morning and putting on your rehearsal shoes can be a struggle after months of touring. But learning to overcome adversity, even on a small scale, is what leads to tackling larger challenges that would’ve seemed too overwhelming before.
“What was one of your biggest tasks at hand when doing drum corps?” I asked Brad.

“Performing your individual show as perfectly as you can is the main goal of any member’s summer. However, to do so you must perform many small tasks with the utmost care and attention to detail. Staying motivated and fired up about finding every little mistake was the hardest part.”

Brad then began elaborating on his present, professional career in the music world. He described his experience with teaching the Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps in 2013. He learned a lot about himself as a player and as an educator for younger students. He illustrated that when teaching kids all summer you feel an immense responsibility to be a good role model for them not just musically, but as a caring and passionate human being as well.

Today, Brad performs in a drumming ensemble called the Cocoa Rhythm Factory as a member of the company Windish Music and Productions. His involvement began with his connection to Michael Windish, as he attended West Chester University for his undergraduate degree just as Brad does. One of Brad’s professors referred him to Mike, and from there he put together a video where he performed a xylophone, drum set, and marching piece of music and sent it in. A few weeks later, he received a call from Mike and found out he got the gig. This was Brad’s first professional music performance job, and a few weeks later he had to memorize all of the music for the summer. Brad described Cocoa Rhythm as a new way to push his playing to a new level of performance. It taught him how to work with a crowd confidently and communicate.

Brad Performing in the Cocoa Rhythm“Cocoa rhythm has taught me to really sell my performance which is useful and different from the marching activity in a lot of ways. It’s become clear that entertaining the audience is just as, if not more important as playing the part perfectly.”

Today, Brad is continues to perform for Windish Music and will be attending his last year of undergraduate studies at West Chester University. He plans on continuing to teach and remain involved with DCI, performing and teaching to the best of his ability.

Bloo is the New Black and Gold

Prashant receiving the 2015 Calvin P. Titus Award

Prashant receiving the 2015 Calvin P. Titus Award

Justin Cohen receiving the Nathan Pernick Leadership Award

The 2014 DCI season was one for the history books. There was silence in the crowd of over thirty thousand fans as the judges announced the bronze medalist for the season. The Cadets had not lost to the Bluecoats once all summer, and for the first time in the corps history, the Bluecoats received the silver medal for the 2014 DCI season, beating the Cadets by 0.30 points and taking second in both GE captions and visual analysis.

This fantastic drum corps is now pushing toward the 2015 season, where there will be much anticipation as to what they will bring to the table. Will they have what it takes to bring a new name to the table of DCI champions? The Founders Trophy awaits.

Three new members of the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps are USAAAMB alums of this past 2015 season, Aly Harris (Color Guard), Prashant Chakradhar (Baritone) and Justin Cohen (Trumpet). While all three are exemplary leaders,  Prashant and Justin received leadership awards during Bowl week for the examples they set in the USAAAMB. Prashant Chakradhar was the winner of the Calvin P. Titus award for the east and Justin was awarded the 2015 Nathan Pernick Leadership Award, which is named after one of our alums that passed away. Both of these incredible leaders are about to leave for the summer and become a part of what may be the new leading corps of this decade. They will face many hard days, but will grow stronger as reciprocation to their commitment.

In speaking to these two All Americans, I was able to ask them about their experience in the marching arts, and how they see music as a part of their life.

Prashant was the first I began talking to, and I learned how his story for going out for Corps is quite different from others. As stated before, Prashant is a ‘ 15 alumni of the USAAAMB, and while in San Antonio for the bowl game performance, he had the chance to have a conversation with Justin Johnson, one of the instructional staff  members for the USAAAMB and also one of the visual instructors for the Bluecoats. Almost on a whim, Prashant asked Justin if there was any chance to still march for the Bluecoats, keeping in mind that they were already entering the second week of January. Justin forwarded Prashant to the Bluecoats staff and there he gained the opportunity to send in a video audition for the drum corps final callback camp.

From there, he was contracted, and the rest was as they say, history. He explained further how going into his first actual camp with the Bluecoats in March was an experience he will never forget.

“I had always heard from my band directors and peers that had marched that it would be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences that I would ever have. That’s the expectation I have for drum corps this summer. Of course, my first time as a performer and a Bluecoat on the field will be like nothing I have ever imagined.”

In regards to the All American program, Prashant learned how to handle the challenges in life. Entering the experience, he held no desire to be a professional musician, and grew by applying the lessons he had learned in the USAAAMB to various parts of life.

“Learning a marching band show in roughly 20 hours proved to me that anything was possible. When I heard about the limited rehearsal time and the load of visual and musical material, I was very nervous on how I’d be able to not only hold my own in San Antonio, but also perform at the level of an All-American. Doing so and having the time of my life during the program taught me that I could achieve I set my mind to.”

As to the future, Prashant now plans on continuing music in college. He anticipates attending Centre College, a private school in Danville, KY, as a liberal arts major with concentrations in economics, math, and music. He aspires to study this odd combination between economics and music because he believes that pursuing these two seemingly different things simultaneously will teach him a lot of different ways to think about his future career.

The next student I interviewed was Justin Cohen, recipient of the 2015 Nathan Pernick Leadership Award. Justin has always been a fan of Drum Corps International, starting at a very young age. Justin and his sister listened to DCI shows together as they grew up through the marching band program in school, and she later went to march with Spirit of Atlanta in 2011 as a mellophone player. The passion and experience that she shared with him after she returned from the summer only strengthened his want to be in a World Class hornline.

Throughout Justin’s years marching in middle school and high school, he had a burning dedication toward performing in high-intensity shows. Being a section leader for two years also fueled his passion for music and the arts until he finally decided to audition.

“Having a sibling who marched really was the most influential part of me wanting to march, as she continues to tell me about the people she met, places she traveled to, and the screaming thousands that she got to perform for during the summer. I wanted that extra something, something that would bring my love for performing and intensity to an entirely different level.”

Justin described further to what a privilege it was to be a part of the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Marching Band . Part of the reason that he wanted to join drum corps was for all of the amazing people that he will meet, and it just so happens that the USAAAMB has that to offer that as well.

“I’ll never forget the people I marched alongside with, as well as the feeling of being selected and recognized simply for something that I love to do. As for the Nathan Pernick Award, I can’t say enough about how honored I feel to receive and represent an avid performer that was also a part of the All-American family.”

As he continues into college at Kennesaw State University this fall, Justin will be studying computer science so that he may later direct himself to a career in audio engineering. Justin took care in explaining how he loves creating music that sounds and feels good with others, which is very much like performing. Through his experience with being section leader, he sees himself teaching high school bands or drum corps for a short time. In all senses, he sees no way that he could give up music. The talents that have been given to him have created most of the incredible journey he has ever been on, and he does not plan on stopping anytime soon.

Both of these fine performers have learned through experience, and have an immense passion for the marching arts. Justin and Prashant will take the skills they have gained through being a part of the USAAAMB and use them to become the next great leaders of the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps, and to carry themselves with excellence wherever they go in life.

I would also like to make a shout out to ’15 color guard member Alyson Harris who will be marching Bluecoats this summer as well!

Alyson Harris

Alyson Harris