Staff Sergeant Brooke Bart – Marine Corps Music Program

Staff Sergeant Brooke Bart • America's MusiciansMay 2023 • May 11, 2023

My experience as a musician in the Marine Corps has offered me the opportunity to do the most incredible things, explore the most incredible places, and perform with the most incredible people. I have seen and done things that my 10-year-old self would be amazed by. The path that got me to where I am was unconventional, but I am forever grateful that I ended up here.

The moment I made a sound on the flute I knew I had found my passion. I was in fourth grade, and I distinctly remember writing a paper expressing that I wanted to be the best flute player in the world and that I wanted to be the flute professor at Juilliard one day. I was on the path to attending a conservatory to study flute performance until one fateful day in my senior year of high school. On this day, I was walking with a close friend in the hallway heading to gym class. We were late and the doors to the gymnasium were locked. Across the hallway was a Marine Corps recruiter and because we couldn’t access the gymnasium, we went over to chat with him. What I initially thought would be a rather uneventful moment in my day turned into a conversation that changed the trajectory of my life. It’s amazing how such a seemingly small moment can turn out to have a massive impact. 

After graduating high school, boot camp, combat training, and the Naval School of Music, I shipped off to my first duty station at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego to be a part of Marine Band San Diego. After all the training, I felt eager and well-equipped to start the job. A fond memory I have of my time in San Diego was when I did a demonstration of flute and piccolo at the library on base for the young children of service members to introduce them to the instruments and explain my role in the military. After the demonstration, a mother came up to me and told me that her daughter asked her to put her hair into a bun so she could be like me. Moments like that remind me of how monumental our impact can be and inspires me to continue to have a positive influence on those around me. 

My second duty station, Marine Corps Base Hawaii as a part of the Marine Forces, Pacific Band, is where I really stepped into myself as a musician. I took lessons with the principal flute of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, which opened the door for many musical opportunities with the orchestra and their woodwind quintet. With the Marine Corps band, I had the opportunity to perform with talented musicians in other services during the annual Joint Services concert. This concert was always a highlight of the year and would remind me of how fortunate I am to be able to make meaningful music with my colleagues across the Department of Defense. Another stand-out memory from my time in Hawaii was when the Marine Forces, Pacific Band was invited to attend the Nanchang International Military Tattoo in Nanchang, China. Here we were able to immerse ourselves in the experience of diplomacy through the universal language of music. That trip was eye-opening, fulfilling, and deeply meaningful for me as a military musician. 

The next step in my career was a plunge into uncharted waters. I was selected for the position as the flute instructor at the Naval School of Music, excited and nervous to step into this entirely new role. Uncertainty is always uncomfortable, but discomfort helped me grow exponentially as a musician and as a leader. New to teaching, when I stepped into this position, I instantly fell in love with it. I enjoy watching my students grow and learn, celebrating their lightbulb moments and successes with them, and challenging them and pushing them past what they thought they were capable of. Shaping my students and the future of the military music program has been the most rewarding experience my Marine Corps career has offered me thus far. 

The one piece of advice every young, aspiring musician needs to hear is that you are capable of so much more than you think. Don’t let the fear of not being perfect prevent you from achieving greatness. You can be an incredible musician without being perfect. Once I let go of the need to be perfect, music became so much more enjoyable, and my progress increased exponentially. Remember to appreciate the work you’ve put in, dedicate yourself to the process of efficient practice, celebrate your wins, embrace and learn from your failures, and most importantly, enjoy making music!

Bart is the flute instructor for the Marine Detachment, Naval School of Music. She serves as the woodwind branch head and as an instructor with rehearsal division for woodwind-based ensembles. She has invested countless hours mentoring, coaching, and teaching Marines and Sailors at the Naval School of Music as well as Soldiers with the U.S. Army School of Music.

The Latest News and Gear in Your Inbox - Sign Up Today!