An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | Nov. 1, 2016

AF Band tour honors vets, inspires patriotism

By Senior Airman Jordyn Fetter 11th Wing Public Affairs

The U.S. Air Force Band and Singing Sergeants Fall 2016 Tour concluded Oct. 29 after a 10-day performance-filled trip through Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Tours are held biannually to connect with the American public in various ways.

“We do these tours threefold,” said Maj. Matthew Henry, U.S. Air Force Band director of staff and associate conductor. “We try to honor those who have served and are serving, inspire the public to a greater sense of patriotism and service, and use music to impact the global community.”

Each concert was jam-packed with classic concert pieces as well as music from the 1950s hit musical “Forever Plaid.”

“It’s been a lot of fun to see [veteran’s] reactions when we play the music they know, remember and love,” said Senior Master Sgt. Dennis Hoffmann, U.S. Air Force Band percussionist. “They sing right along with us.”

To provide an even more interactive experience for audience members, choir and band students from each performance location were brought up on stage to participate in multiple performances.

“I hadn’t seen the U.S. Air Force Band before tonight, but I was really impressed by their performance,” said Matt Slocum, an audience member. “I’d recommend this show to anybody, especially those who are musically inclined. It’s very enriching and educational.”

After providing the opportunity for local musicians to participate in the show, the concerts concluded with the playing of the U.S. Military service songs, during which veterans and their family members were invited to stand to show their pride and sing along.

“It really is a strong connection where we take the energy from the audience all night and put the focus right back on the veterans, where it belongs,” said Master Sgt. Joseph Haughton, U.S. Air Force Band premier vocalist and music director. “You can see the intense pride of all of our veterans as they stand.”

A lot of time and effort goes into planning these tours in order to tailor them to the intended audience.

“We have a group of folks—our programing committee—who will take suggestions and offer them to our musical leadership,” said Hoffmann. “Together they work on creating a program that will accomplish our mission to honor, inspire and impact.”

This preparation normally takes about a year to complete because they must first discuss ideas, decide on a theme, and then mold the music to fit the band’s characteristics. They then have to work out the logistics of the tour by reaching out to local connections in the tour area to secure venues and advertise their schedule.

In addition to serving local communities with both unique and familiar musical productions, band tours like these allow band members to perform in and visit their hometowns.

“This tour is special to me because I get to perform in my hometown of Pittsburgh,” said Hoffmann. “A lot of my family and friends who supported me becoming a musician and coming into this career field will be able to see me perform with this band in my hometown for the first time in my 16-year career.”

For many, this tour was a special experience—whether it was a performer’s last tour before retiring, or a community member’s first time watching a U.S. Air Force Band concert. The impression made throughout the community fell in line with the band’s mission and proved a fulfilling tour for many of the musicians.

“Every time we get to play the service songs or ‘God Bless America,’ it means a lot to us on stage to see the audience react so positively to that,” said Hoffmann. “Seeing that is comforting, in a way, and we never take that for granted. We’re happy to be out here honoring [veterans] and inspiring the community to a higher sense of patriotism.”