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Students Skype with military musicians

on June 12, 2014 10:49 AM

Ben Franklin fifth-graders recently had an opportunity to “meet” and speak with two talented musicians about their involvement with some of the premier military bands of the world. The students had been studying the Civil War and its components, which included music.

Jason Olear, music teacher, arranged the Skype session with Army Staff Sgt. Kristopher Betz and Marine Sgt. Austin Williams.

Betz spent 10 years as a percussionist/drummer in the Air National Guard Band of the Mid-Atlantic and the Pennsylvania Air National Guard Band, Fort Indiantown Gap.

He went active duty in 2007 and spent four years with the 25th infantry division band, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

He spent two yearlong deployments to Iraq with the band, mainly playing music for the troops, but he had other duties as well. He is currently with a special assignment as systems administrator/Web developer for all Army music. He is assigned to the U.S. Army Field Band, which is the premier touring band of the U.S. Army. He manages www.music.army.mil, as well as an intranet site for all Army musicians.

Williams was a timpanist for the Southwind Drum & Bugle Corps and Glassmen Drum & Bugle Corps.

He graduated from University of Tennessee in 2005 with a degree in music performance and later earned his music education certification there.

He taught middle school/high school band in Tennessee and was the principle timpanist for the Johnson City (Tenn.) Symphony. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2009 and underwent recruit training and Marine combat training in early 2010.

He has served in “The Commandment’s Own” U.S. Marine Drum & Bugle Corps since June 2010. He is currently a percussionist (bass drum), a music librarian and also percussion staff arranger.

Submitted photo.

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