President’s Own visits King’s Fork Middle

Published 9:53 pm Monday, October 3, 2016

King’s Fork Middle School’s eighth-grade band class welcomed the “President’s Own” band on Monday morning.

More than 25 band students gathered in the school’s auditorium to listen to selections by four clarinet players from the U.S. Marine Band, commonly referred to as the “President’s Own.”

The students and professors nodded their heads and tapped their feet in unison as the musicians flawlessly belted intricate melodies and harmonies.

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Despite being a professional for several years, Master Sgt. Michelle Urzynicok admitted to being nervous prior to all of her performances.

“Yes, we get very nervous,” she said addressing the audience. “It’s totally normal.”

After a few selections, the band paused to give brief snippets about the band’s audition process and experiences with music.

The group stressed persistence and endurance as key to pursuing music professionally.

Master Sgt. Tracey Paddock said it took her four auditions to make it into the band. Another member, Staff Sgt. Shannon Kiewitt, auditioned for the band just days after giving birth.

Different sections of the band, founded in 1798, perform about 900 times a year at various destinations across the country. The “President’s Own” performs at the White House more than 350 times a year alone and has played at presidential inaugurations dating back to Thomas Jefferson.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the band’s first tour performance in 1891, led by John Philip Sousa. The tour will take place Oct. 1-30 from Princess Anne, Md. to Miami, Fla.

As part of its tour, the band performed at a sold-out concert at Western Branch High School on Sunday evening. By the end of the month, the band plans to perform 28 concerts in 30 days.

Along the way, the band will continue to host demonstrations as they did at King’s Fork at more than 40 locations along the East Coast.

Both Paddock and Urzynicok cherish having the opportunity to perform for students.

“This is always gratifying,” Paddock said.

“I hope they are inspired to keep playing their instruments,” Urzynicok said.

Once the lesson ended, the band students headed back to their classroom inspired and ready to make something of their own musical journeys.