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Marine Musicians Prepare for a Capitol Fourth

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2004 – "Anytime you can get someone to tap their foot, then, you've touched them," Marine bugle player Sgt. Keith Martinez said during a rehearsal break at the Kennedy Center here today.

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Marine Staff Sgt. Jamie Bennett, left, and Marine Sgt. Keith Martinez practice with their bugles during a July 2 rehearsal at the Kennedy Center in Washington. The U.S. Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps is slated to perform with the National Symphony Orchestra at the U.S. Capitol on the Fourth of July. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps' musicians, spokesman Marine Staff Sgt. Justin Bakewell explained, were tuning up for their July 4 performance with the National Symphony Orchestra outside the U.S. Capitol.

The Drum and Bugle Corps "represents Marines and service members worldwide," Bakewell pointed out, noting it's appropriate on the 4th of July to recognize the U.S. troops who are now serving overseas in the war against terrorism.

"We just want the focus to be on them, over there," he said.

The Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, known as "The Commandant's Own," was established in 1934 at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., Bakewell pointed out, making this year its 70th anniversary.

Whether they're tooting horns or banging drums, Drum and Bugle Corps' members share their military traditions and varied music with audiences worldwide. Today, Bakewell said the group has about 80 members who travel the world to perform.

The corps' marching musicians, he said, employ a variety of instruments, including soprano bugles, mellow phone bugles, baritone bugles, contra bass bugles, bass drums, snare drums and tenor drums. The group, he added, also uses a marimba and a xylophone.

"These musicians are very accomplished," Bakewell pointed out, noting, "they had to pass the highest audition score in the Marine Corps, except for the Marine Band."

Staff Sgt. Jamie Bennett, 30, who plays a large, silver-plated brass baritone bugle, noted his job is to boost service members' morale and "to bring the Marine Corps' story to the public."

Bennett said he's looking forward to the Fourth of July performance because it highlights the military's role in helping America achieve its independence from England.

Martinez plays a soprano bugle -- the type he says is used to play the haunting notes of "Taps" during military funerals. Music, he said, has always been a part of military traditions, for moving or inspiring troops, highlighting changes of command and retirements, and honoring the fallen.

The Drum and Bugle Corps' musical repertoire, Martinez said, includes stirring marches and "anything from Beethoven to Dixieland, to anything that you'd see on a Broadway stage."

Martinez said venues like the July 4 performance showcase members' talents as ambassadors to the public. "Everybody knows music," Martinez pointed out, noting, "You don't have to a certain age or (in) a certain group to know what it means."

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U.S. Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps

Click photo for screen-resolution imageMarine Sgt. Joseph Rivera practices with his bass drum during a July 2 rehearsal at the Kennedy Center in Washington. The U.S. Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps is slated to perform with the National Symphony Orchestra at the U.S. Capitol on the Fourth of July. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMarine Cpl. Kelly Hood gets ready to practice with her baritone bugle during a July 2 rehearsal at the Kennedy Center in Washington. The U.S. Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps is slated to perform with the National Symphony Orchestra at the U.S. Capitol during the Fourth of July. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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