ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- From time to time, the Marine Corps is called upon to help strengthen relations between the United States and its coalition partners. These efforts may come in many different shapes and sizes. One such example was the recent deployment of a brass quintet section from the 2d Marine Division Band based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Maj. Gen. John F. Sattler, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, arranged to bring the band members here to perform at the Ethiopian National Day ceremony Feb. 20.
During their trip, they made a stop at the Yared School of Music Feb.19. The band performed for the school's approximately 75 students and the Ethiopian army.
"Some of us get to see bands like this on video sometimes, but it is great to get to see U.S. Marines live," said Aklilu Zewdie, director of the school. "It is good for our students to hear the Marines teach about their composition and orchestration."
For some, playing in another country, and especially a school, might be a little scary.
"I was intimidated at first when I heard that we were going to perform at a music school," said Lance Cpl. Alfredo D. Rodriquez Jr., Marine Corps musician. "We just had to settle down and stick to our routine."
The band played patriotic marches as well as classical music for the students, taking time out in between to explain how they were doing things.
"They were very attentive, and as we went on, they began asking more and more questions," said Rodriguez, native of San Antonio, Texas. "I caught myself looking out of the corner of my eye as I played, and they always seemed to be listening carefully."
When the quintet finished, the Ethiopian army band gave a short performance.
Afterward, the Marines split up and demonstrated different techniques to various individuals and answered questions.
"Talking to the students and army personnel one-on-one allowed me to see that we can still understand each other through music, even though we don't speak the same language," Rodriguez explained. "Most of them had pretty basic questions regarding what they can do to improve themselves."
The performance at the school gave the Marines a chance to interact with musicians from a different nation as well as teach.
"Being able to help them like this just makes me want to practice more so that I can help again when the time comes," said Rodriguez. "It's an emotional rush knowing that I helped bring a smile to someone's face on the other side of the world. I never thought I'd be here."