FORT McCOY, Wis. –
Spc. Mindy Strahl’s military career began with an audition. Not the traditional statement someone in the service claims, but Strahl has a unique military skillset: she is an Army musician. More specifically, she is a trumpet player with the 338th Army Band out of Whitehall, Ohio.
In the past year, Strahl has performed a more challenging role as bugler, rendering honors and playing taps for six Presidential Wreath Laying Ceremonies and more than 30 military funerals. These occasions are formal and solemn, every detail crisp and rehearsed. Strahl has been unflappable, performing at a level expected of more senior personnel.
Strahl played the trumpet for eight years, only claiming her four years in high school as serious. She became motivated through competition. “We had a student teacher who was in the Marine Corps Band. I am not from a military family, so it was beneficial to have an educator who could share information about a job that I wanted and what the expectations would be,” Strahl said. Prior to this experience, she had never considered the military. Her teacher opened that door for her and she jumped at the opportunity.
Strahl, from Martins Ferry, Ohio, enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 2020, when she decided to pursue her passion for performing, and auditioned with the 338th Army Band.
“An audition can’t hurt” she thought. And Strahl was right, according to the Army Band not everyone passes the audition on their first attempt, but they do receive valuable feedback that can help musicians learn what areas need improvement for further auditions. She didn’t have to worry. She passed her first audition.
The following day, Strahl headed to the Military Entrance Processing Station to conduct evaluations and ensure qualification for enlistment in the Army. Once she signed her enlistment contract, Strahl began preparing for basic training, expecting a lot of running and rucking. Army musicians who pass the audition enlist with the rank of Specialist (E-4) then head off to 10 weeks of Basic Training, followed by Advanced Individual Training at the Army School of Music on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Va.
At the Army School of Music, she enjoyed her time learning and playing. “I had a blast at school,” Strahl reminisced, and talking about the performances and people still brings a smile to her face.
Strahl thoroughly enjoys all the travel she has encountered with the 338th Army Band. Some of her highlight performances include playing with the Ohio State Marching Band; playing the National Anthem for the Columbus Bluejackets NHL hockey team; and playing with the unit’s Jazz Band. It is important to remember that as an Army Reserve Soldier, when Strahl is not performing in Soldier mode, she works a civilian job as a team lead at a local restaurant. “It is helpful to have management that is understanding of my role serving our country and who support the time I need to serve,” Strahl stated.
The 338th Army Band, with stations in Livonia, Mich. and Columbus, Ohio, provides music for military and public occasions throughout Ohio, Michigan and beyond. With groups that cover most genres of music, the band provides music of celebration and solemnity for many occasions. Their public performances are designed to entertain and educate patriots of all ages.
Part of the 338 Army Band’s focus is on recruiting for the U.S. Army Reserve, by being the face of the Army. “We are honored to tell the Army's story to the public through our music and well scripted announcements. Our goal is to foster support of the Army from the public for all Soldiers who serve or have served our country,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Teresa Hudson, 338th Band Commander.
Strahl has a positive attitude and specific talent that is deserving of high praise. She hopes to continue her personal journey with music, expressing an interesting in furthering her educational opportunities. “She is an absolute quality musician and top-notch Soldier,” said Chief Hudson when asked about Strahl.
Army bands have positions for flute, clarinet, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, percussion, keyboard, guitar, bass, vocal and sound and lighting technicians. If you, or any musician you know is up to the challenge, like Strahl said, “An audition is never going to hurt.”
To find out more about opportunities with the U.S. Army Reserve bands and audition opportunities check out Careers - U.S. Army Bands or www.bands.army.mil/careers/audition or ask an Army recruiter in your area.