Adjutant General's Corps Regimental Association

Music for Holistic Health and Fitness

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.

The variety of ways music is processed in the brain.

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.

LT James Reese Europe and the 369th “Harlem Hellfighters” Infantry Regiment Band

James Reese Europe was a leading composer and bandleader in New York City at the beginning of the 20th century. During this time, he was able to synthesize classical, ragtime, and march music to create a sound identity of the African-American community. He responded to criticism by saying, “We have developed a kind of symphony music that, no matter what else you think, is different and distinctive, and that lends itself to the playing of the peculiar compositions of our race … My success had come … from a realization of the advantages of sticking to the music of my own people.”

Europe originally enlisted in the New York National Guard, but was soon given a commission once his musical skill was discovered. He was charged with creating a band for the 369th Infantry Regiment which composed of African-American and Latino men. They were sent to France in December of 1917, eventually being assigned to the French Army, as American Soldiers refused to serve with the 369th troops. The French troops treated them fairly and were happy to have the help since they had already been fighting the Germans for many years. Unique to the 369th was their officers were also African-American, a first in the U.S. Army, of which Lieutenant Europe was one. The entire regiment was awarded the Croix de Guerre for their gallant service in the American Expeditionary Force.

The music of the 369th Band was an instant morale booster for their fellow troops and also connected French, British, and other European Allies to a uniquely American cultural creation. This identity of American culture persists to the present day, as European audiences are generally more accepting of ‘jazz’ music than the country where it was born. Upon the unit’s return in February of 1919, they led the parade through New York City, with many of the local black population in attendance. A proud moment to see their fellow countrymen marching in victory to music created and played by African-Americans.

The 369th Experience was organized for the centennial celebration of the end of World War I. The group carries on the tradition of James Reese Europe and educates its audiences about this important time in American History. Later in the 20th Century, the U.S. Government used the music of African-Americans to project a National Identity to the world. The world then responded back through the infusion of blues and jazz into their popular styles. Practically all popular music made today across the globe has traces of the rhythms and melodies created by the African-American community.

Check out the West Point Band performing some of James Reese Europe’s compositions.

Project Management and the Army Band Mission

Project management is the application of knowledge, processes, skills, tools, and techniques to ensure the success of a project. Professionals in this field are highly respected and are considered essential in almost all industries.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide defines a project as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. One can consider an Army Band concert as a service, so the application of project management principles can be used to ensure the best possible outcome. Project management includes specific process groups and knowledge management areas, which include measures of success along the entire lifecycle of the project. Here we will apply these processes to the planning, executing, and assessment of an Army Band mission.

The life cycle of a project (mission) begins with: 1. The request/tasking or need for the service. 2. The organization and preparation phase. 3. The actual execution of the mission. 4.  Finally, the closing activities and assessments. Throughout the lifecycle, work is constantly monitored to ensure the project stays on task and adjusted as external factors influence the outcome. In project management these tasks are categorized into five process groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring, and Closing. All the groups overlap except initiating and closing groups.

The initiating process group contains activities required when a new project (mission) is undertaken. This includes- defining the scope, identifying internal and external stakeholders, resources required, and assigning a project manager. In the Army we would call the project manager the action officer. This person is empowered through mission command to make decisions and is responsible for delivering the service. Army Band missions where the unit is the sole focus of the event are the best use cases for project management principles. The scope of an Army Band mission would include number and type of performances and also the time required to rehearse and execute. Stakeholders would be any external sponsors, higher headquarters leadership, contractors, and unit leadership. Financial resources would be defined along with current levels of equipment and personnel available.

Once initiated, the planning phase may begin. This process formally lays out the total scope, objectives, and the courses of action required. The planning process has the largest number of factors of all the project management tasks. These include:

1. Scope management – defining and controlling the work required to complete a project.

2. Time management – defining the time and schedule for project completion  

3. Cost and Procurement management – all financial activities required for project execution.

4. Quality and Risk management – all activities required for stakeholder satisfaction and mitigation of risk.

5. People and Communications management – defining the human resource requirements and communications for project completion.  

The PMBOK guide actually defines ten knowledge areas, it has been simplified here, for easier comparison with Army Band missions. The planning process results in a project management plan, which is the reference source for all stakeholders. Defining the objective is probably the most difficult task for Army Bands. It is can be as simple as “put on a concert,” but this doesn’t get to the heart of the mission statement. Putting on a concert is means to achieve an objective such as “Enhance the confidence and patriotism among the American people.” This planning process is continuous throughout the project as changes occur. The manager must ensure the plan is updated and communicated to all involved.

After work has been defined by the project management plan, the executing process an begin. This is where the activities required to satisfy the project are undertaken, along with the coordination of people and resources. Even though risk analysis is performed during the planning phase, unforeseen risks or opportunities may arise which affect the plan. In these cases, the manager must decide whether to request a change to the plan, or stay the course based on all information available. As an example, suppose the Band is expecting delivery of a new sound support system, that is critical for the mission as the venue does not have any sound support. A delay in shipping will cause the equipment to arrive too late to be integrated into the show. The manager requests the use of a contractor to provide sound support in order to deliver the same quality. This may cause an increase in budget, but the senior stakeholders believe it is worth the cost and the project plan is updated to reflect this change. The planning and executing processes overlap until the project is in the completion phase.

During the entire project period the project manager is responsible for monitoring and controlling progress and performance. Regular measurement and analysis during the project ensures that activities are on track and meet the requirements of the project plan. If deviations are discovered, then action can be taken immediately, and appropriate adjustments are made. Often, trade-offs between budget and schedule must be decided and this process group allows for those decisions to be made. An obvious implementation of this process is the rehearsals leading up to the final performance. Soldiers and their leaders are constantly measuring their efforts against a mental baseline of a quality performance. This is highly subjective, but there are many technical aspects which can be controlled through diligence practice.

The closing process group is used to complete all work and formally end the project. Activities include: post-project reviews, documenting lessons learned, archive relevant data, close out any procurement agreements, and perform individual/team assessments. The after-action review is an example Army activity that would be conducted during the closing process group. It is critical that data is captured so it can inform future projects. Army Bands tend to treat each mission as independent, without regard for how lessons learned can be applied to future missions. By thinking of a mission as a project, Soldiers are better able to apply a cyclical mindset which leads to continual improvement.

The Adjutant General School offers the Certified Associate in Project Management and Project Management Professional credential to all 42 series Soldiers. The coursework is completely self-directed and those with proper motivation will obtain a useful skill, which is applicable both while serving in the Army and civilian life. Thanks to the hard-working professionals who help to make this opportunity available in order to increase the intellectual capacity of Army. As the Army implements its Talent Management Strategy, Soldiers with project management credentials will be highly valued by organizations looking to have auditable, efficient processes for achieving their mission.