Artist Spotlight: Technical Sgt. Sara Reese
By Master Sgt. Ani Berberian, The United States Air Force Band
/ Published June 21, 2019
JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. --
This month’s "Artist Spotlight" features clarinetist, Technical Sgt. Sara Reese. She hails from Port Charlotte, Florida, and joined The United States Air Force Band in 2011. An exceptional clarinetist in the Concert Band, Sgt. Reese holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Florida State University, and a Master of Music degree from Yale University where she was a student of David Shifrin. I recently had the opportunity to ask Sgt. Reese about her background, so let us meet Technical Sgt. Reese!
Why did you decide to audition and join the Air Force Band?
Throughout my college years, I had learned about the military band career field, and the talented musicians that performed in these ensembles, so I considered this path along with auditioning for professional orchestras. The Air Force Band clarinet audition was the last of several military band auditions I took during my last year of graduate school, and I was fortunate to win this position in February 2011. Along with being a stable job in an often unstable career field, this position gave me the opportunity to perform with some of the best musicians in the country while representing our country's military. For these reasons, I accepted the job and enlisted.
How did you start playing the clarinet?
Like many young students, I was encouraged to join band in the fifth grade. My older sister had discontinued her band classes a number of years earlier, and her clarinet was collecting dust in my mom's closet. Because I had enjoyed learning recorder the year before, I was excited to play just about anything I could find. I would have probably played any instrument that had been stashed in my mom's closet, but thankfully, I really enjoyed the clarinet. I began taking private lessons in middle school, and by my junior year, I had decided to pursue a career in music.
What are some things you enjoy most about your Air Force career?
I enjoy the stability the Air Force provides me. This is often not the case with a career in music! I also enjoy performing on our national tours, which take me to parts of our country I otherwise would have never seen. Finally, I truly enjoy how our organization uses music to connect with people, especially at our local holiday concerts in December that bring in thousands of children each year.
How do you approach learning a new musical work?
I approach a new work by listening to any recording I can find. This can also be said about how I approached learning the clarinet, in which I constantly listened to recordings of famous clarinetists. I believe that developing an ear for your instrument is crucial to becoming proficient. After listening, I slowly dive into the notes, taking special care to retain the style and spirit of the piece that I had become familiar with during listening. Finally, after learning the notes and style of the piece, I make the music my own with the composer's intent in mind. It is at this point that I will perform the new work, hopefully displaying a culmination of practice and musicality.
What advice can you give to someone contemplating a military band career?
I would tell someone to sit down and gather the full list of benefits before deciding if it is for them. If the goal is to perform at a high level with talented musicians, then a career with a military band should absolutely be on the radar! I would also encourage someone considering this job to sit down and speak with current members firsthand about the job's responsibilities and requirements, just so there are no surprises.