Tracey Paddock, a clarinet player for the U.S. Marine Band, speaks to an Everett High School band class before playing a piece on Friday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Tracey Paddock, a clarinet player for the U.S. Marine Band, speaks to an Everett High School band class before playing a piece on Friday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Everett High band class gets a visit from ‘The President’s Own’

The U.S. Marine Band visited campus Friday morning, and played at Civic Auditorium that night.

EVERETT — Music filled a room at Everett High School Friday morning as more than 40 band students focused on the stage, apparently enamored.

One by one, three members of the United States Marine Band played their instruments — a clarinet, a euphonium and a snare drum — as the teenagers listened intently.

The band, known as “The President’s Own,” is one of the country’s most prestigious musical bands, performing at the White House, for the Marine Corps and during memorial ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

The group visited Everett as part of its national concert tour, and played Friday night on campus at the Everett Civic Auditorium. The band comes to the area about once a decade, but tour almost every year.

This time they reached out to Megan Vinther, who has been a band teacher at Everett High School for about 10 years. The musicians asked to visit her classroom, where the cream-colored walls are lined with old Seagulls memorabilia and photos of school bands from previous years.

“It’s a pretty cool thing to have a professional military band come through town,” Vinther said. “Especially one of the Washington D.C. bands, because they are the top of the top.”

Everett High School band students listen while members of the U.S. Marine Band speak and perform for their class on Friday morning. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Everett High School band students listen while members of the U.S. Marine Band speak and perform for their class on Friday morning. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The United States Marine Band was founded in 1798 by an act of Congress, making it the oldest continuously active band in the country. Its mission is to “provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps.”

It’s believed that the band has played at every presidential inauguration since 1801, when Thomas Jefferson was sworn into office.

“Whenever the White House calls us for anything, we have to drop everything,” Master Gunnery Sgt. Mark Jenkins told the class Friday. He plays euphonium in the band, a brass instrument.

Jenkins was with bandmates Master Sgt. Tracey Paddock, who plays clarinet, and Staff Sgt. David Constantine, who plays percussion. Each serve on active duty in the Marine Corps.

In all, the band has about 160 members. Many of them spread out to visit local schools while on tour.

In Everett, the trio spent about an hour answering questions and playing their instruments.

Jenkins went first, with an uplifting tune.

Mark Jenkins, a euphonium player for the U.S. Marine Band, performs for an Everett High School band class on Friday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Mark Jenkins, a euphonium player for the U.S. Marine Band, performs for an Everett High School band class on Friday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Paddock was next, and played something a little more somber. Heading to class on a gray and cloudy morning, she thought, “I’m literally going to be playing the weather outside,” she told the students.

Constantine went last, and played a piece on the snare drum. Some parts were loud, and others soft.

After about 45 minutes, a bell rang signaling the end of first period. A few students left and others poured in. Nearly every chair was filled, and many kids sat on the floor.

They all asked questions throughout the lesson.

One girl wondered if there were any string bass players in the band. When she heard there are three, she smiled, scrunched her shoulders and sank slightly into her chair.

Others asked about the audition process, and what inspired each of the band members to be part of the Marines group.

Jenkins had thought about it since he was a little boy, when a military band visited his classroom. After that, it became his lifelong goal to join.

It’s now his turn to inspire the younger generation of musicians.

“For me to do that for them, it’s a very special opportunity,” he said.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

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