The Oregon National Guard’s 234th Army Band is the only military band in the state of Oregon
The annual training in Central Oregon for the Oregon National Guard includes weapons familiarization and individual weapons qualification.
However, a little-known fact is that in conjunction with this training, they have their own Army Band to conduct concerts in Central Oregon while the Oregon National Guard is in the area.
The Oregon National Guard’s 234th Army Band is the only military band in the state of Oregon. The various performing groups include the Concert Band, Ceremonial Band, Rock Band, Brass Quintet, Dixie Band, and Woodwind Quintet. Following two weeks of annual training in Central Oregon, the 234th Marching Band will be participating in the Crooked River Roundup Parade on Saturday. Following the parade, the Dixie Band will be performing a free concert in the covered area at Pioneer Park.
Sergeant First Class Terry Tuggy, spokesperson for the 234th Army Band, said that the band takes advantage of the training schedule of the Oregon Army National Guard by holding concerts in the local area of the venue that they are located.
“To get into the Army Band system, you have to perform an audition on your instrument, which usually is about the level of a player that has gone to college already,” explained Tuggy. He added that it is difficult for musicians to qualify right out of high school because the band can’t spend a lot of time training them how to play. He said that they need to know how to play independently.
“We train them how to be in the Army and play,” said Tuggy. “We perform ceremonies and parades and other things, besides being soldiers.”
The process of getting into the Army Band includes an audition — which once the commander certifies that the hopeful musician has passed their audition, they have to enlist in the Army and complete 10 weeks of basic training and 10 weeks of the Army School of Music.
“Most of that is dealing with the Army musician not the musician as a player him/herself,” elaborated Tuggy.
The 234th Army Band has been in existence for approximately 50 years. Tuggy said an average enlistment for the Oregon National Guard is four to eight years, and the Army Band members must participate in the annual training with the other soldiers.
Tuggy said that a Central Oregon musician, Specialist Michelson-Wise recently transferred into the 234th unit and will be performing in the upcoming performances with the Band for the first time.
The Band performs in several parades each year, including the Albany Veteran’s Day Parade and the Starlight Parade in Portland. The public can look for them before and after Prineville’s own Crooked River Roundup Parade this Saturday.
The 234th Army Band will be performing at the Crooked River Roundup Parade on Saturday, June 25 at 10 a.m. A performance will follow from 11 to 12:30 p.m. at the Pioneer Park covered area.
The 234th Army Band will also be performing at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend on Sunday, June 26 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.