Face of Defense: U.S., Japanese Musicians Rehearse Together

By Army Capt. Malisa Hamper
301st Public Affairs Detachment

CAMP HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan, Dec. 10, 2013 – They say music is an international language.

The first joint rehearsal between the 56th U.S. Army Band, I Corps, and the 7th Division Band of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Northern Army occurred here Dec. 9, 2013, during Yama Sakura 65, a bilateral command post exercise held between the two countries.

“Music is the universal language so it’s really incredible to see how well we can communicate through music,” said vocalist Army Staff Sgt. Bridgette Dyer. “I feel like we are making a good connection.”

Each band presented seven songs to collaborate on and practiced together in an effort to choose songs they will play jointly tomorrow at the End of Exercise Social for Yama Sakura 65.

“This has been an amazing experience,” said guitarist Army Staff Sgt. Jeff Sheldon. “It’s been a lot of fun working with the Japanese band. We can’t necessarily communicate through words but we can communicate through music.”

Both bands collaborated to play “Dancing Queen” by Abba, ”Fly Me to the Moon” by Bart Howard, and a jazz/hip-hop improvisation of “I’m your Pusher” by rapper Ice-T.

The rehearsal session lasted for an hour and a half and gave both bands the opportunity to work through their differences and overcome language barriers.

“This fellowship is what this whole mission is about. It’s great that we can come together and play,” said bass player Army Sgt. Christopher Williams. “Even though everyone else is playing the war game right now, we still have this and it feels awesome to be here for it.”

The 56th U.S. Army Band, known as the “Heartbeat of America’s Corps” certainly tuned in with their Japanese counterparts, and won the hearts of both exercise participants and band members.

“My experience has been great. All the musicians are very good musicians and very friendly people,” said trumpeter Army Staff Sgt. Jason Beemis. “Overall, the Japanese culture has been very friendly. I’d love to come back and play with them again anytime.”
 

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