Marine band members get college help - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Marine band members get college help

April 7, 2004

Albany -- The Marine Band at the Albany Marine Base is working with Darton College to help musicians get college degrees. Darton's Music Program brings the college to the base.

The Albany Marine Band is one of the finest in the nation. Trombone player Corporal Antonio Portela wants to study to become a music instructor, but college was tough to fit into his schedule. Portela said "Our main job is to perform for everyone, so we are traveling a lot."

Piccolo player Sgt. Cassie Groff joined the Marines to further her education, while playing music. Groff said "I want to be a Doctor, but I can't afford college. So playing music is another one of my goals. I like to do that too. Doing both is even better."

So the Marines and Darton College put together an accelerated music program to help the Marine Band members take college courses, around their schedule. Dr. Claire Fox Hillard goes to the Base twice a week to teach the Marines. Dr. Hillard said "Very talented musicians. A way for them in a short amount of time to get their associate degree in music."

For the Marines, it's a chance to further their education. Band leaders say it is making them better musicians. Staff Sgt. Jack Davis said "Ear training to theory is something that we use every single day in everything that we do."

 Part of music theory course requires the Marines to play the piano, which is tough for musicians who are among the best at their own instrument.

But for these Marines, their love of music makes it worth the extra effort. Corporal Robert Grogan said "I get excited about it. It's a very hard job for me, but it's a very rewarding life."

The Marine Band will join with Darton College orchestra for a joint concert April 20th. The Albany Marine Band left today for Brooklyn, New York, to perform in a marching band concert tomorrow.

posted at 4:03 PM by jimw@walb.com