A few weeks ago "Sunday Morning" invited viewers to perform our theme music, "Abblasen," and the videos came pouring in. One in particular that caught our eye was from the U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own."
Staff Sergeant Craig Basarich and his bandmates spent several days performing, perfecting and editing their submission.
"We have a group chat, kind of on a text message thread, and I just sent a text message and said, 'Hey, I don't know if anybody had seen this thing. I think we could do something," said SSG Basarich. "And immediately that group kind of jumped in and was like, 'Yeah, we would love to do it. That would be great.'"
"The song is difficult to play, even for the most well-trained trumpet player. Is that true?" asked "Sunday Morning" producer Sara Kugel.
"It's not an easy piece," SSG Basarich said. "It really works all over the instrument, top to bottom register-wise, so it takes a lot of work to make the piece sound as easy as when Wynton [Marsalis] does. We were text messaging back and forth, and finally had to reach a point where we said, 'Okay, stop listening to the Wynton Marsalis recording, because we're never gonna sound like that. We need to figure out how to sound like us playing this, and not like somebody else.'"
A unique performance, by a truly unique band. Established in 1922, the U.S. Army Band performs a range of national and international events, from public concerts to state arrivals and inaugurations.
However, recently, in light of social distancing, the band is creating online content, posting performances – and even music lessons – on their social media pages.
"One of the best ways to connect people of the United States to our military is through music," said Staff Sergeant Adrienne Doctor, another trumpet player who performed on the "Sunday Morning" video.
Kugel asked, "Because of stay-at-home orders, it seems like the role of musicians and the band has changed dramatically. What is your work like now?"
"Right now everything has shifted to an online focus," SSG Doctor said. "But in addition to the online content … there are still funerals happening in Arlington National Cemetery. Right now, everything looks a little different, of course. Everything is done by solo bugler to allow social distancing and more safety at that end. I'm one of the buglers who's been performing in the cemetery; I actually have to wear a mask, and I lower it when I perform 'Taps,' and then I bring it back up after I'm done. So yeah, things are looking very different for all of us."
But even in these different, socially-distant times, SSG Doctor says she still believes in music's power to unite: "The title of our online content is 'United We Stand - Music to Connect Us.' It's all about connecting us. Even though we are physically distant, we can feel really together by listening to something together and just lifting our morale and reminding the people that the Army is always rolling along, we're always adapting and serving."
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Story produced by Roman Feeser and Sara Kugel.