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Like father, like son

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Ani Berberian
  • The United States Air Force Band

The children of active duty members of the military make many sacrifices while their parents serve our nation. As with any military unit, many of The U.S. Air Force Band’s personnel are parents themselves who work hard to obtain a balance between work and family life. For one band member’s family, the lines between work life and family life became blurred as the Airman and his son sat on the same stage and joined together to make beautiful music.

This past spring, clarinetist Senior Master Sgt. David Stump and his son, Andrew, perfromed together with The U.S. Air Force Concert Band during its annual Collegiate Symposium. The concert included college students from all over the country who won the audition to perform with Concert Band. Andrew was one of 19 selected out of a total of 85 applicants.

“It was great being able to play next to some fantastic musicians,” recalls Andrew of his Collegiate Symposium experience. “It pushed me to strive towards higher musicianship and better playing of my instrument."

Inspired by his dad, who throughout his career has frequently performed on saxophone with the Airmen of Note, Andrew picked up the saxophone after years of violin lessons. He quickly lost the motivation because of having to deal with saxophone reeds and switched to euphonium, trombone and tuba in his high school band.

During his freshmen year of high school, there was a need for French horn players in his youth orchestra so Andrew made another switch. He fell in love with the instrument, stating, “I had found my true musical voice.”

Andrew recently completed his first year at one of the world’s most prestigious musical institutions, The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he is majoring in French horn performance. He has enjoyed his time at The Curtis Institute because of his teachers, the unbelievably high performance standards and being challenged by his serious and dedicated peers.

There were many factors that led Andrew to pursue a career in music: his affinity and tremendous love for his craft, his parents’ musical influence, and geographical artistic influences. He admits he could not imagine doing anything else.

“He was drawn to it from within, I believe,” his father, Sgt. Stump, added. “He grew up around music, going to my Air Force Band concerts from before he could even walk, so it probably came naturally that he would like music. It was always his main interest.”

Sgt. Stump doesn’t feel like he pushed Andrew into a musical career. He shared: “We could tell he liked music from a young age, and thought it would be great for him to have music lessons of some type, even if he eventually was not interested. It soon became apparent that he had some natural gifting, like perfect pitch, and a great ear and mind that grasped music really well.”

Like Andrew, Sgt. Stump was also influenced both by his parents and an Air Force band. Sgt. Stump hails from Colorado Springs, Colorado, home of the United States Air Force Academy. Both of his parents were music teachers, and one of his first experiences with military bands was when members of the U.S. Air Force Academy Band gave a number of clinics at his high school.

Now serving as both clarinetist and bass clarinetist with The U.S. Air Force Concert Band, Sgt. Stump initially joined  the Air Force in 1994 to serve in the U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base. Five years later, he moved to Washington, D.C., to be the bass clarinetist in The U.S. Air Force Concert Band.

Stump reflected on his 25-year career by saying, “It’s been a wonderful career, especially while serving my country.”

Andrew recalls that one of his father’s performances that stands out in his mind is one of the Air Force Band’s flash mobs: “It was really fun and special, seeing the audience's surprise and appreciation of the music. It was neat seeing the different ensembles of the Air Force Band playing together in one venue. It was a grand and beautiful sound they all produced together.”

For Andrew, performing alongside his father and colleagues was particularly special considering the many Air Force Band concerts he has watched as an audience member.

"It was really fun being able to be inside of the ensemble that I have listened to and grown familiar with over so many years,” Andrew shared. “Being on stage with my dad in the setting of a professional group was a very special experience for me."