CW3 Jonathan Crane is the Commander of the 25th Infantry Division Band. His life-long work is the research and communicate music’s effects on Soldiers and its ability to connect those Soldiers to the public they defend. He has published essays for 1775: The Journal of the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association and the Modern War Institute. Chief Crane is also a contributing author to the Book- Music Therapy with Military and Veteran Populations.
The key to our current National Defense Strategy is integrating allies and partners across all domains of conflict. The president is keenly focused on the IndoPacifc and his strategy intends to- “Advance a free and open IndoPacific that is more connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient.” Tactical exercises with our international partners have broadened in scope to be demonstrations of political and economic cooperation. The Garuda Shield exercise, which has been conducted for 15 years, became Super Garuda Shield. In the past it was only the U.S. and Indonesia, with a few observer nations. Super Garuda Shield included 14 nations either as participants or observers. U.S. Army Pacific Command brought a wide variety of units including Infantry, Artillery, Aviation, and Engineers. For the first time the 25th Infantry Division (ID) Band sent nine Soldiers to support the exercise. The inclusion of the band meant a greater opportunity to bolster the relationship between the U.S. and Indonesian militaries, but also make new connections with the civilian population surrounding the training areas.
Initially, the 25th ID Tropic Lightning Brass Band was expected to participate in the opening and closing ceremonies, which would require learning Indonesian military music and integrating with the Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat (TNI Army) Band. Fortunately almost all military bands around the world use western European music notation, so the 25th ID Band members could learn the music quickly. They also learned a variety of music from the United States, including artists such as Taylor Swift, A-ha, Lil Nas X, Blackstreet, and James Brown. They also included the traditional “When the Saints Go Marching In,” which represents America’s unique artistic heritage of jazz. The plan included two troop morale performances, but the mission would expand significantly upon arrival at Baturaja Training Camp.
Attempts to plan community outreach performances were unsuccessful through the U.S. State Department and Indonesian Embassy. Public Affairs officials from 7th Infantry Division and 3rd Brigade, 25th ID, linked the band with members of the 416th Civil Affairs Battalion and a Psychological Operations Soldier. This multifaceted team used their expertise to conduct three engagements in five days, developing lasting partnerships with the local community in the Baturaja Area.
The first event on August 6th was at Taman Tani Merdeka Park in the Town of Martapura, just a few minutes from the TNI Army Base. Over 2000 local citizens enjoyed the band’s music along with food and craft vendors of all kinds. The chance for the community to interact with American Soldiers was highly effective in communicating the importance of military cooperation and thanking them for supporting their armed forces during the exercise.
On the 8th, the band was invited to play for a variety of school groups at the Mayor of Oku Timur’s office building. The TNI Army Base lies within the Mayor’s district so much of the local support for the exercise came from the people of his town. This event was especially important since the band got to connect with elementary to high school level students.
The band’s last community event was a performance at Baturaja University along with their marching band. The University Director Ir Hj. Lindawati hosted a planning session on August 10, where we learned much about the school and how the event would flow. A somewhat more restrained audience enjoyed the marching band and the 25th ID Brass Band performances, which of course were followed by many pictures. A short question and answer session added a touch of educational engagement and inspired students as they registered for their next semester of classes.
The Tropic Lightning Brass Band’s two morale performances at the makeshift bazaar allowed for Soldiers from the U.S., Australia, and Singapore to have fun and relax along with local Indonesian contractors supporting the exercise. On less than 12 hours notice the band put together a set of appropriate music for a luncheon hosted by TNI Armed Forces Commander GEN Andika Perkasa. GEN Andika was most generous with his praise of the group, which set a proper atmosphere for the event. From official ceremonies to impromptu street performances, music was an essential part of making the exercise successful.
Super Garuda Shield 2022 certainly increased tactical interoperability across all domains of battle. Through the integration of Civil Affairs, PSYOPS, Public Affairs, and Army Bands- Super Garuda Shield also increased the awareness of and demonstrated commitment to a free and open IndoPacific to the people of Indonesia. These efforts are under-resourced but can have lifelong impacts on small groups of people. The person to person connection through music is what makes the difference in lasting commitments to democratic alliances. Similar engagements are happening throughout Eastern Europe to renew our commitment to NATO allies. The Army currently struggles to maintain a full active-duty force, with shortfalls across many jobs. This has caused continual reductions in band personnel over the last 20 years. Finding new solutions to increase music related capability will be of benefit both for troop morale and maintaining strong partnerships. Expanding opportunities for amateur musicians (such as the 82nd Airborne Chorus and U.S. Army Europe and Africa Chorus), will allow the Army to still have robust music capability without increasing the total active force. These amateur musicians must always be under the purview of the Army Band program so as to maintain professionalism and the highest standards expected of Soldiers.
Music has an undeniable power to build connections (and reinforce divisions if not carefully employed). Integrating Band operations into international exercises should be standard practice, and units such as the 25th ID Band have shown the effect on the mission. The synchronization of all information-related capabilities, including music, will help achieve U.S. strategic effects and provide tactical advantages unobtainable by any other means.
Most people across the world enjoy listening, performing, composing, and dancing to music. In much of that music there is a low-frequency component call the bass. This part of the sound is the literal base for all the other sounds that help us understand it as music. The bass provides the connection between the rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic components of a musical piece. People often describe the bass as something they feel rather than hear. Our ears can only hear frequencies as low as 20 hertz (Hz), the lowest key on the piano is just above that at 27.5 Hz. When that note is played, it might not sound like much more than a thud, but when all the higher sounds are added its importance becomes clearer.
In a study by Michael Hove et. al., participants were better able to tap along with low frequency sounds compared to higher ones. That is to say, the participants were more accurate in synchronizing their finger taps to bass notes. This ability is traced to the cochlea of the inner ear, which is very early in the auditory pathway to process sound. It is a shared common trait among all people across the world. Higher frequency sounds are processed once they enter the brain, so we are better able to determine the pitch and relationships to other sounds. So how does this relate to being a leader?
Modern leaders both in and outside the military empower the people in the organization. Gone are the days of the authoritarian CEO or commander who demands respect and obedience through fear. The work may still get done, but the long-term costs of stress, burnout, and lack of job satisfaction, ultimately result in poorer organizational performance. Empowering people is about serving their needs through the creation of a framework that takes into account all the variety of skills and cultural backgrounds present in a team. This idea of the leader serving the needs of their team is called Servant Leadership, and it has a decades-long history.
According to the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership– “Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.” The key aspects of this philosophy are sharing power, putting the needs of others first, and developing people. The servant leader is at the bottom of an upside-down pyramid, where the workers/followers are at the top.
In this upside-down pyramid, the workers are all the melodies and hooks that our brain spends the most time processing and remembering. The middle of the pyramid contains all the supporting elements such as the harmony and sound effects which enhance the music. Finally, at the bottom is the bass, which is processed the fastest, and almost unconsciously. It is foundational to the music’s structure and its enjoyment, but we don’t spend much time thinking about it. Unless you are a bass player you probably don’t really notice the bass in a song, but your body responds to it in a subconscious way.
Servant leaders are bass players. They share their rhythmic role with drummers and integrate with the other parts of the song. Leaders can empower their people to make decisions, without going through multiple levels of approval. In the military it is often difficult to share leadership. The positional and rank-based structure always leaves the final accountability within the commander’s hands. However, by letting others make decisions while assuming the risk for those decisions, commanders remove the ‘fear of failure’ mindset. This allows the members of the organization to share in its decision-making, building trust and confidence along the way.
They put the needs of the song before their own, even if that means choosing not to play. The song is the organization and its people, servant leaders sacrifice their desires for the good of the group. This can mean leaving space for people to bring their ideas forward, and the leader tabling their priorities for the benefit of the organization’s mission.
They develop the song by slightly altering their contribution so the other parts can be even more engaging. Servant leaders influence the organization in a foundational, subconscious way so there isn’t a need to call attention to their status as a leader- it is felt. That feeling is understood through the development of the organization’s people. When they take ownership of tasks and advance in their own careers, then the servant leader has done their job. It is not necessarily something the leader directed, but rather establishing the philosophical culture that allowed for the people to flourish.
Although not traditionally thought of as a leading element, the bass in music in analogous to the servant leader philosophy. It is often hard to describe in words why we like a song or feel good about working in an organization. It just seems right. Serving the people in the group is what makes for high-performing organizations and memorable music. Challenge yourself to be the bass player on your team!
On October 1st of 2020, the U.S. Army published Field Manual (FM) 7-22 Holistic Health and Fitness. It represents a complete picture of how to train and ensure the health of Soldiers, not just physically, but emotionally, socially, psychologically, and spiritually. This doctrinal publication takes its cues from a wide breadth of knowledge from the medical and performance communities. For the first time since World War II, music is recognized as a contributor to Soldier health.
In July of 1945, the War Department published Technical Bulletin (TB) Medical 187- Music in Recondition in Armed Service Forces Convalescent and General Hospitals. This document described how nurses and doctors were to use music during the recovery process, both from physical and mental wounds of war. The techniques described formed the basis of modern music therapy, which is now a board-certified profession.
The first mention of music in FM 7-22 deals with sleep from paragraph 11-18- “Some individuals believe that they sleep better with music or a television on, that they can sleep anywhere, and the ambient noise does not bother them. Research clearly shows this is not the case.” Continued in paragraph 11-19- “Pre-sleep routines that promote winding down- such as listening to soothing music, reading, or taking a warm shower or bath- 30-60 minutes prior to bedtime tend to facilitate the transition to sleep.” There have been several studies done on the relationship between music listening and sleep. This meta-analysis showed a moderate effect for listening to music and subjective quality of sleep for insomnia patients. The challenge with much of the research in this area, is that music listening is individualistic. So called “soothing music” can refer to huge variety of different styles. This study showed a temporary memory boost for a specific task when listening to music during sleep. There isn’t conclusive evidence that music listening before or during sleep improves quality. However, if it is part of a routine already established, it is likely to be helpful. Soldiers can reach out to their peers in Army Bands on recommendations for finding music that is both enjoyable and calming for pre-sleep routines.
Music can be a companion to both pre-conditioning and recovery from physical activity. If you have ever been to a professional football game, you will often see the players wearing headphones during their on-field warmups. This is a personally selected mix that provides them a motivational boost. It is their time for individual focus on the task that lies ahead. As they get closer to game-time, the headphones are gone, and the team comes together through shared chants/movements. This builds social bonding as the team begins the game. In Lisa Gilman’s book My Music My War, Soldiers recount their use of music to get pumped-up while getting their gear ready, and then having a shared song played on a makeshift stereo inside their vehicles right before going outside the wire. During recovery, paragraph 12-49 of FM 7-22 states- “A quiet, comfortable, and dimly lit environment with calming music can assist with mental imagery, deep breathing practice, muscle relaxation, and mindfulness practice.” This spa-like atmosphere is certainly achievable in garrison, but in combat environments is unlikely to be possible. Often this type of recovery is only available after long-term stress and/or trauma, delivered by a certified practitioner. These types of recovery practices will be more effective when delivered closer to the stressful event.
Personal Development is an important part of a holistic health approach. If one’s professional life is all-consuming, it can cause undue stress and long-term complications. Engaging with music through practice, performance, and composing has several benefits for cognitive functioning and social bonding. There are tremendous resources on the internet for learning and engaging with music, however it can be overwhelming. Having a mentor will help improve the experience as the key benefit lies in the human to human interaction. Synchronization through rhythm and movement creates neurochemical boosts in the brain which make us feel closer to those with whom we play music. Army Bands can provide opportunities for all Soldiers to engage with music from jam sessions, drum circles, talent showcases, and performances. Such work is already happening with warrior care services (supported by the National Endowment for the Arts Creative Forces Military Health Initiative), but should be expanded to all those who want to participate.
The power of the mind is incredibly important to total well-being. The current professional consensus does not fully support FM 7-22 when speaking of mind-body practices in paragraph 13-29- “Some mind-body practices do not require referral for clinical or professional intervention. These practices can include art therapies such as music, visual arts, and dance.” There is strict delineation between clinical art-based therapies and the general use of the arts for holistic health. The everyday stress and rigors of being a Soldier do not require a clinical intervention, but rather mentorship from experts and support from colleagues. If a trauma-inducing event occurs and is diagnosed by a medical professional, then a clinical intervention is needed, which can be delivered by board-certified creative arts therapists. Music as medicine can be self-administered or delivered by a facilitator, whereas a music therapist can provide specific interventions aimed at improving a diagnosed condition. The American Music Therapy Association provides as excellent overview of working with military populations.
The Army has come full circle from 1945 in its application of music for health outcomes. 3,000+ musicians stand at the ready to facilitate and advise for the use of music to improve Soldier readiness. There is also an ever-expanding network of music therapists working as Department of the Army Civilians and contractors. Army Bands in collaboration with music therapists are already improving the health of the force and will continue to reach more Soldiers and Families through greater awareness of music’s health benefits.