Specialist William Esterling: Maestro on a Mission

SBO Staff • America's MusiciansNovember 2023 • November 1, 2023

In the world of music, there are individuals whose talents extend far beyond the stage into the realms of service and devotion to their country. Army Specialist (SPC) William F. Esterling III stands as a shining example of such figures. His journey, stretching from Delaware’s Cab Calloway School of the Arts to the Delaware National Guard’s 287th Army Band, serves as an inspiring testament to unyielding commitment and an unbridled passion for both music and service.

Early Harmonies: The Roots of a Musical Odyssey

Bear, Delaware, served as the backdrop for the commencement of William Esterling’s musical odyssey. It all began when he first laid hands on the trombone in the fourth grade. Little did he know that this modest introduction would ignite an enduring flame. His passion for music flourished during his formative years at the Cab Calloway School of the Arts, where he ascended to the position of senior drum major of the school’s illustrious marching band.

Next was Ithaca College, where he earned a Bachelor of Music in music education and trombone performance. His academic pursuits continued at the Catholic University of America, where he earned a master’s degree in conducting. These significant accomplishments firmly established him as a proficient conductor and marked the inception of a in music.

Building His Musical Resume: A Conductor and Musician

Before venturing into military service, Esterling meticulously crafted his career, accumulating a wealth of experience as both a conductor and a musician. He served as the assistant conductor for the New Orchestra of Washington and the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra. Yet, Esterling’s passion was not confined to the stage and the conductor’s podium alone. He also dedicated his time to education. Assuming the role of winds & brass coordinator at the Levine Community Music School, he sculpted young talents into skilled musicians, nurturing the next generation. In a slightly different direction, he led the pep band at American University in Washington, D.C., approaching every performance with vivacity and enthusiasm.

Today, Esterling wears multiple hats. As the music teacher at Tyler Elementary in southeast Washington, D.C., he imparts his knowledge and passion to budding musicians. Simultaneously, he serves as the music director of the COSMIC Symphony in southern Maryland, where his enthusiasm for music shines brightly. In every role, he remains steadfast in his commitment to nurturing the next generation of musicians, passing on the invaluable knowledge he has accrued over the years.

Answering the Call to Service: A Legacy of Duty and Honor

Esterling’s decision to serve in the military was not solely a personal choice; it was a homage to a deep-rooted family tradition of duty and honor. With a father who was a Navy veteran and a mother who had served in the Delaware National Guard, Esterling was raised with a profound respect for those who choose to serve their nation. This sentiment was further bolstered by the service of both his grandfathers.

This legacy of service stirred something profound within Esterling, compelling him to explore opportunities to better himself and give back to his community. Upon completing his master’s degree, he embraced this calling, embarking on a new chapter in his life. His high school band director and a close friend, both of whom were members of the 287th Army Band, played a pivotal role in motivating him to join.

In the summer of 2021, SPC Esterling underwent basic combat training and joined the 287th Army Band. Since joining the Delaware National Guard, he has had the privilege of conducting the 287th Army Band in numerous public performances, serving as a bridge between the military and the civilian world. Through his musical talents, he connects with audiences and fellow service members.

A Life in Harmony: A Symphonic Narrative of Commitment

The journey of William Esterling, from a fourth-grade trombonist to a specialist in the 287th Army Band, is a narrative that weaves dedication to music, education, and service together. His unwavering commitment to his passions has orchestrated a beautiful symphony that resonates not only in his life but also in the lives of all those he touches.

In Esterling, we discover an individual who has masterfully orchestrated a life where music, education, and service seamlessly blend. He serves as a living testament to how the pursuit of one’s passions can create a profoundly meaningful impact on others. His journey embodies the harmony of commitment, dedication, and a resounding love for music, exemplifying how one person can make a lasting impact through the power of their passions.

Esterling’s story is a testament to the power of dedication and passion. His journey from a young musician to a specialist in the military band shows how one person can make a profound impact through their love for music and dedication to their country. As his music continues to resonate, it serves as a reminder that the pursuit of one’s passions can create a meaningful life, touching the hearts of all who have the privilege to listen.


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