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Bandsmen Inspire as Virtual Wingmen

Graphic representing the Duet Initiative of the United States Air Force Band

Graphic representing the Duet Initiative of the United States Air Force Band

JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. --

In these challenging and unprecedented times, the members of the U.S. Air Force Band soon came to realize that they would have to formulate different ways of connecting and inspiring its worldwide audiences through the gift of music, without the benefit of live performances. These innovative musical ambassadors did not disappoint with their latest team effort, the Duet Initiative.

This newest project was the brainchild of Master Sgt. Brooke Emery who is the E-flat clarinetist in the Concert Band, and the Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge of Production.

“My three children were facing the cancellation of many of their most anticipated events. I realized that there were students all over the country who were experiencing the same disappointment, and that our organization had an opportunity to forge a really meaningful connection with some of them,” explains Sgt. Emery.

The first video was shot in Sgt. Emery’s home, featuring her and her son Leroy performing a virtual duet. Soon after, 186 students sent in a video of himself or herself performing one part of a duet. Each video was then paired with an Air Force Band member, who then recorded the other part of the duet. The two parts were synced into one video and presented to the student, who were then encouraged to share their duets on their own or their parents’ social media pages.

Many of the students had commented what an incredible opportunity it was to record a virtual duet with a member of the U.S. Air Force Band. 

Mitchell Perry, a sixth-grade trumpet player from Amherst, Ohio was one of the students who submitted a video. His mother, Christy, exclaimed, “This was amazing! Thank you so much for this opportunity. How exciting and wonderful it is to have music be something positive to motivate and connect us during this time.”

For Caroline Gao, a ninth-grade flutist from Albany, Ore., states, “It means so much to me and all the other band kids disheartened by the current situation.”

Recording a video with a U.S. Air Force Band member for Austin Stern, a bass player, was an uplifting experience.  He states, “Whenever I play or listen to music, I feel energized, excited and positive. In this world, we are going through tough times, but music is a great escape to a different world which we can all understand.”

Some of the students hope to collaborate with Air Force musicians in the future, including Julie Johnson, a junior viola player from Belton, Tx. She is an avid private teacher, and frequently performs at churches and homes for veterans. Julie is the proud military child of a retired Army Desert Storm veteran. 

Creating and editing these duets for the students required a team effort from the Band’s Production Team.

“We created a personal connection with students. They were thrilled to see themselves on camera with a member of the Air Force Band. Many of the students have said that this duet is a keepsake for them that they will treasure for years,” states Sgt. Emery.

All in all, the Duet Initiative was a highly successful project met with an enormously popular response. Its impact will most likely be seen in many years to come.