Fort Lee-based band members will perform at 22 local schools through 'Music in Our Schools' outreach program
By Lesley Atkinson, Fort Lee Public Affairs
FORT LEE — Six musicians from the 392nd Army Band performed a live concert in the Hopewell High School auditorium March 17 as part of the annual outreach program "Music in Our Schools."
The Fort Lee-based band members will perform at 22 local schools and for more than 7,000 children during the program's two-month run through March and April.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kevin Pick, band commander, said performing in the schools is important to the soldiers of the 392nd Army Band.
"It is not required that we participate in the schools, but it is such a useful vehicle for reaching out to young audiences on so many levels," said Pick. "We are often the only connection or interaction students have with the military. We have the opportunity to educate our audiences about different types and styles of music and different types of musical instruments. We also can inspire students to consider a career in the military or even a career in music further on down the road."
First Sgt. Gary Yurgans, the 392nd's enlisted band leader, said he has an all-star team here and they all have a lot of experience. Due to the demands for the band, they are stretched thin but still try to make the program happen.
"We are short in numbers and one deep in instruments because of the deactivation in 2016," Yurgans said. "Most of the band members had already transferred. Now, we [the 392nd Army Band] are reactivated but still low in numbers, so we have to reach out for help at times."
Currently, the band has only one sound engineer capable of providing sound reinforcement for the rock band. The day of the Hopewell concert, the 392nd's sound technician was on another assignment with the brass quintet. Due to this conflict, the band reached out to their community and brought two audio engineer instructors from the Army School of Music in Virginia Beach to help with setting up and providing sound reinforcement for the hourlong performance.
Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie Doehr, lead vocalist, said setting up for each venue is unique and can take some time because acoustics may differ.
The band pulled off the concert without a hitch, performing songs from artists Bruno Mars to White Stripes. Overall, the band is making an impression on the community. Pick said the reviews for the Fort Lee musicians are usually very favorable.
"Typically, we get 2-4 very positive and appreciative comments a month," Pick said. "We have a unique avenue for connecting with our audience through music. People thank us for our service and being able to perform for them in their town or school."
Since 2012, the 392nd Army Band has performed for more than 42,000 children in Central Virginia during their annual "Music in our Schools" program.