Marines come together with high school students for band challenge

13 Oct 2011 | Lance Cpl. Mark Garcia

The 1st Marine Division Band hosted the second annual high school band competition at Golden Gate Park, Oct. 10.

The San Francisco Fleet Week event drew 12 bands from local high schools, all seeking to take home the $10,000 cash prize donated by the Fleet Week Association.

The Marine band performed for band students, instructors, friends and families and showcased opportunities available should band students choose to pursue music in the Corps.

“One of the most important things to us is that contained within the six high schools that played today, there is at least a quarter to a half of a Marine Corps band in there,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Edward Hayes, the band officer for the 1st Marine Division Band. “They are our replacements. They are where we were in terms of their musical growth just a few years ago.”

Patrick Martin, the band instructor at Benicia High School, which won the competition for the second straight year, noted the importance for young students to be exposed to an experience like the band challenge.

“I think this is a great opportunity for the kids,” Martin said. “I jump at the chance to bring them here because it’s not often they get to perform with other schools where they can actually watch them, and to be exposed to music at the caliber of the Marine Corps band.”

After all the bands played, they joined the 1st Marine Division Band on stage to play “Stars and Stripes.”

“It was fun to play with all these instruments and do the things we were able to do,” Hayes said. “The most interesting thing about it was putting all these bands together and playing 'Stars and Stripes' with them."

Retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Michael Myatt spoke after the competition about the band challenge being a perfect way to end a great Fleet Week in the Bay Area.

“Fleet Week is very important to the city,” Myatt said. “It’s important to the citizens here, and it’s a chance to say ‘thank you’ to the sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen that serve our country.