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Party of five rocks West Side Chicago high school music class

A brass quintet with the Twentynine Palms Marine Band shared their music knowledge and answered questions about opportunities in the Marine Corps as musicians after performing at Roberto Clemente High School here today.


May 12, 2009
Staff Sgt. Luis R. Agostini ,
Recruiting Station Chicago

While many students, such as junior Elizabeth Torres, enjoy playing and reading music as a hobby, class elective or just to let out some steam, the employment outlook as a professional musician in the private sector is very competitive, if not bleak.

“Being a Marine is one of the most stable jobs, as a musician, that you can have,” said Schmidt, from Wauconda, Ill. “In the civilian world, if you rehearse and miss one note, you’ll get a handshake, a “thanks for coming out,” and never hear from them again.”

Their performance was one of several anticipated throughout the Chicagoland area as part of the inaugural Marine Week Chicago, which runs through Sunday. The weeklong event provides an opportunity for Chicago citizens to meet the men and women of the Marine Corps and learn about its history, traditions and value to the nation.

“Chicago has Marines on recruiting duty and some reserve units, and that’s about it,” said Sgt. Justin Schmidt, a 26-year-old trumpet player with the band. “There isn’t an area here that’s saturated with Marines, so this is a fantastic way to reach the community.”

Roberto Clemente High School, named in honor of the late Major League Baseball hall of fame right fielder and former Marine, sits on the corner of Western Avenue and Division Street in Chicago’s West Town. The 2,700-student strong school is comprised mostly of the city’s large Puerto Rican population from Humboldt Park.

The performance and question-and-answer session expanded the students’ knowledge and perception of the Marine Corps beyond its basic mission of making Marines and winning battles.

“I didn’t know the Marine Corps even had a band,” said Torres, 18. “Now I see that they just don’t fight; they have different talents as well.”

In addition to information on the basic physical and moral requirements for becoming a Marine, the students also were informed of the audition process, consisting of a prepared musical solo of one’s choice, scales and sight reading.

“Today’s performance showed the students that the Marine Corps is not all about fighting wars,” said Staff Sgt. Oliver Hollins, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Recruiting Substation North Center, Marine Corps Recruiting Station Chicago. “It broadens the students’ horizons as far as opportunities available to them as a Marine.”

Brian Frazee, the school music department chairman and band director, helped organize the performance. He hopes the session will help his students continue to enjoy and expand their love of music, as a hobby or profession.

“My students are just starting to realize that they can pursue music as a career, and the Marine Corps is one way to do that. They look at the (brass quintet) as the end result, and see where they could possibly end up in a few years,” Frazee said.

For more information, visit www. Marines.mil/MarineWeek.