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AIM Program Hits Innovative Bullseye While Creating Bridges

Members of the U.S. Air Force Strolling Strings perform with elementary string students during an AIM school visit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. (ret.) Bob Kamholz)

Members of the U.S. Air Force Strolling Strings perform with elementary string students during an AIM school visit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. (ret.) Bob Kamholz)

Bassist Technical Sgt. Victor Holmes coaches a student during a Concert Band AIM Side-By-Side event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Kowalsky)

Bassist Technical Sgt. Victor Holmes coaches a student during a Concert Band AIM Side-By-Side event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Kowalsky)

Accordionist Senior Master Sgt. Frank Busso and Bassist Technical Sgt. Victor Holmes play along with students from the West End School during an AIM event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. (ret.) Bob Kamholz)

Accordionist Senior Master Sgt. Frank Busso and Bassist Technical Sgt. Victor Holmes play along with students from the West End School during an AIM event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. (ret.) Bob Kamholz)

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

A vital and gratifying component of The U.S. Air Force Band’s mission is educational outreach in our local and national schools, colleges and universities. This initiative, entitled Advancing Innovation through Music, or AIM, exemplifies the Air Force’s core value of “Service Before Self” and inspires diverse audiences of all ages with the highest level of professionalism.

AIM fosters positive relationships with academic communities of all ages by providing opportunities for students to work closely with the Band's musicians. Through live and virtual clinics and masterclasses, school assembly concerts, student collaborations, military musician career panels, tours of the Band facility, rehearsal observations, and side-by-side performances, the AIM program offers a wide range of options while building bridges with various institutions of learning. 

Beginning in 2013, when sequestration prevented the Band from traveling outside of the Washington, D.C. area, the program quickly grew and now serves more than 22,000 students each year from around the globe.

The program provides the Band the means to reach educators and students in a more personalized way. Master Sgt. Kristin Cazenave, the Assistant Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Educational Outreach states, “When it is not practical to take the entire Band into a school, the AIM program sends smaller chamber groups to create a meaningful educational experience and presents a more approachable and interactive representation of the Air Force Band.”

AIM has made a tremendous impact in recent years, not only for the students, but also for the Band members. Sgt. Cazenave explains, “The AIM program gives students an opportunity to interact with the Band musicians up close, to ask questions, to receive feedback, and to perform side-by-side with professional musicians. It is extremely rewarding for our musicians in that we can mentor and continue to foster the love of music within the up and coming generation of young musicians.”

Due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the first new and exciting innovations for the AIM program was the launching of a virtual platform, which enabled the program to reach new heights, in addition to the live performances, student collaborations, panels, and masterclasses. 

Master Sgt. David Kucharski, Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Educational Outreach illustrates, “I think the pandemic has obviously forced our world to lean into the available technology, like Zoom, in order to stay connected and thriving. We have also created brand new 30-minute asynchronous presentations that are available for educators to use during online, hybrid or special in-person class periods. We are certainly thinking outside the box to utilize these tools and make a meaningful impact in places we might not normally be able to reach.”

Other impressive and groundbreaking innovations will range in scope from the local, national and international levels. Locally, the Band is developing a strong partnership with the Washington Performing Arts (WPA) educational outreach branch. “This will result in long-term and impactful relationships and residencies with our local schools, especially working closely with those students who are underserved right in our own backyard,” Sgt. Kucharski explains.

Nationally, members of the Band will be reaching across the country to work with a much more diverse community of students. Sgt. Kucharski illustrates, “This is especially exciting, as it builds lifelong relationships in places where we necessarily have not been before, and with the hope of giving all young musicians every opportunity the Band can offer toward a successful path forward in music.”

Later this summer, in conjunction with the AIM program, the Band will break through global barriers and build life-long relationships by working on a recording project with a school in South Africa.

To learn more about these exciting opportunities, or to request an AIM event at your school, schedule a virtual event, or inquire about a facility tour and rehearsal observation at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., please contact Master Sgt. David Kucharski at david.kucharski@us.af.mil.