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Melodic Military Eagles by Rafael McDonnell
Winter 2006      


story extras

A singing sergeant

A 22-year veteran

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Air Force Band

Army Band

Army Field Band

Coast Guard Band

Marine Band

Navy Band

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Everyone Loves a Parade

Melodic Military Eagles

A Career Beyond Measure

'Life is a Gift'



A 22-year veteran

Chief Musician Dan Vinson (’82), who played the euphonium in the U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired this fall after 22 years with the band (he is now pursuing a D.M.A. at UNT). He first became interested in playing professionally after doing his student teaching as part of his undergraduate degree.

Chief Musician Dan Vinson“As a euphoniumist, the best alternative at that time was to play in a military band,” he says.

He credits Regents Professor Donald C. Little and the competitive atmosphere of the North Texas music program with helping prepare him for his job, which included playing at the launching of new ships, changes of command, formal dinners and parades, in addition to formal concerts for the public.

Some of his most memorable moments with the band included playing at the National Cathedral for the funeral of Ronald Reagan and occasionally playing for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C.

He says one of his favorite moments personally came when the band played for a ceremony at which George H.W. Bush was to speak.

“The band was lined up against the wall on opposite sides of the room when Mr. Bush came to the podium.Before he began to speak he looked up and down the line of the band and when he looked at me he smiled — most likely because I was smiling rather broadly myself.”

Vinson says the competition for jobs in the major military bands is “very keen” these days.

“My best advice for one who aspires to join is to work hard, be patient and get prepared for a very exciting life.”


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