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MEET THE COMMANDER—Colonel Timothy J. Holtan On Music Education

Colonel Timothy J. Holtan
Colonel Timothy J. Holtan

In 2011, The United States Army Field Band welcomed its tenth Commander, Colonel Timothy J. Holtan. Holtan comes to the Army Field Band from Virginia Beach, where he was the Commandant of the U.S. Army School of Music. He has served as Commander of the United States Military Academy Band and the Training and Doctrine Command Band of Fort Monroe, Virginia, and as the Department of the Army Staff Bands Officer. He is also no stranger to the Army Field Band, having served as the band's Deputy Commander from 2004 to 2005.

The son of a World War II Army bandsman, Holtan was aware of military bands very early on. Before his Army career, he enjoyed a successful career as a music teacher. "As a teacher," said Holtan, "I had the philosophy that my job was not necessarily to teach music, but to teach life skills: learning to be on time, arriving with the right materials, being prepared, being sensitive and responsive to those around you. If I did a good job teaching those basic skills, it was amazing how good the music was. Then they understood the music, grew to appreciate the music, and knew what it took to make good music. Out of that experience came a desire to make music at a higher level, and I auditioned for the Army Bands program."

Col. Holtan
Holtan is now Commander of the Army's premier touring ensemble, and music education is still a big part of his approach. "I like to work with high school kids a couple of times a year, to stay in touch with that base constituency without whom we would not have musicians in our program. The care and feeding of that system is still something I'm very interested in. It's who I am, and I don't think anybody [in the military bands] does as much as the Army Field Band with educational outreach."

Holtan says his assignment as Commander of the Army Field Band was most welcome, and that the band's mission ("…carry into the grassroots of our country the story of our magnificent Army") sets it apart from other military bands. "The efficiency of the Army Field Band's operations comes from its singular focus. The focus on performance, whether taking it on the road or recording at Fort Meade, is what drives the organization. Connecting with the grassroots of America, connecting the Army to the American people… it's what this band exists to do."