Monday, August 1, 2011

36th ID share music's universal language in Iraq

UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE OF MUSIC. 36th ID band Soldiers, public school teachers, break through the Arabic and English language barrier with music

Written by Spc. Brittany H. Gardner, 362nd MPAD, USD-S Public Affairs Sunday, July 31, 2011

BASRAH, Iraq – A Basrah University student plays along while Staff Sgt. Maurice E. Kelly, 36th Infantry Division band member, teaches different styles of Western music during a class held on Contingency Operating Base Basra July 28. The 36th Inf. Div. band has been teaching these students since they arrived in Iraq over seven months ago. (Photo by Spc. Brittany H. Gardner)

BASRAH, Iraq – Soldiers deployed to Iraq often find it difficult to communicate with local nationals without the use of an interpreter. But there are many communication tools that are easily understood world-wide, such as body language, hand gestures and even music.

One group of Texas National Guardsmen with the 36th Infantry Division deployed to Contingency Operating Base Basra since December, learned how to break down the language barrier by speaking in the universal language of music.

“We’re having classes for faculty and students from the University of Basrah from the fine arts department there,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Lightsey, 36th Inf. Div. band commander. “We’ve had classes our entire deployment here. It’s basically music classes, music enrichment classes, on Western music. They performed for us on their native instruments and native music. But they are seeking information, background and education on Western music and Western history.”

Lightsey, and the two Soldiers who have been teaching these classes since they arrived, serve their country in more ways than one. Back home, these men teach music to students in the public high schools. Lightsey said it’s been almost impossible to compare the Basrah University students to his students in Texas.

“It’s a very different background,” said Lightsey, “and of course they’re used to some different sounds. And they use some different instruments as well. They’re string oriented. They don’t have any brass instruments and very little percussion except for their native percussion. Their skill level is actually very low just because they haven’t had the training.”

Although the language barrier is apparent during each class, Lightsey said they’ve accomplished a lot.

“The music is the same. We say that music is an international language, and I think that this has been a real education and a confirmation of that,” he said. ...

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