In His Own Words Musician First Class Marcus Flores, U.S. Naval Academy Band

A native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Musician First Class Marcus Flores auditioned and was selected for assignment to the U.S. Naval Academy Band in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2020. Following Navy recruit training in Great Lakes, Illinois, he reported to the Naval Academy Band as a trumpet instrumentalist with the brass quintet, brass ensemble, marching band, and ceremonial units. He is also a public affairs assistant and auditions assistant. He recently reenlisted in the Navy for a second tour of duty.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your musical background/when you started playing the trumpet (or other instruments)?

I started out on the French horn, not the trumpet! I played the horn throughout middle school in our band class, but then decided I wanted to play in the jazz band which met after school.

A case showed up in my room soon after. My dad had gone to Sam’s Club and bought an inexpensive trumpet, along with a basic book of exercises which would prepare me to play it in the jazz band. I remember practicing for hours to get the right fingerings and notes. It might not have been the best trumpet I’ve ever played, but it was what I had. And I had a lot of fun playing it! 

Q: When/how did you decide to pursue music professionally?

Music is my voice – the true window to my soul. I think I always had a special passion for it because of the colors, emotions, and sounds you can create. Each piece has its own story, and you help bring the characters to life when you play.

When I was in high school, it started to become obvious I wanted to perform and teach. I listened to any album I could get my hands on, played in every group with the name “band” in it, and would practice before, during, and after school–whenever I could find time. I would help others out who were having trouble with their parts, and I learned about music theory, ear training. I even started playing other instruments to support the different bands we had at school.

I went to Las Cruces High School (Go Bulldawgs!). I earned my bachelor’s degree in music education at New Mexico State University, my master’s degree in music at Bowling Green State University, and was working on a doctorate at the University of North Texas before I won my position with the Naval Academy Band.

Q: What are some highlights you’ve had with the band so far?

We were able to take a brass quintet out to the Naval School of Music for a recital last year, and I really enjoyed the program we put together. It was challenging, featured music of various genres and time periods, and allowed us to push ourselves musically as a group. I especially enjoyed playing Oskar Böhme’s Sextet for Brass – I’m a huge fan of music in the Romantic style.

Q: As part of your duties with the band, you teach trumpet sectionals as a part of Midshipmen Musical Activities. How is mentoring these future naval officers rewarding for you?

For me, it’s a nice way to reconnect with my time prior to joining the Navy as a music educator, where I was part of a great staff as a band director in Clovis, New Mexico. I constantly draw upon the lessons I learned from my colleagues and supervisors there – teaching helped me monumentally in becoming a better performer. 

 The midshipmen are fantastic students. They take precious time out of their demanding military and academic schedules to be a part of the various musical groups here. I always appreciate how attentive they are and how they are so willing to be coached. 

Overall, I’m just glad I get to share a little bit of my passion for music with them. I hope to impart to our future military leaders how music can inspire and uplift others.  

Q: What advice have you received along the way by a trusted friend or mentor you would want to share with younger musicians who might be considering a career in the military musical organization?

I’ve been blessed to have great mentors throughout my musical development: my elementary school teacher Susan Raby, my high school band director Matthew Talmadge, my mentor Dr. Frank “Pancho” Romero, and the trumpet gurus who helped me develop my musical voice, Charles Saenz, John Holt, and Caleb Hudson. I think what they have passed on to me the most is how to be a professional not just in music, but in life: be a good colleague, cooperate and communicate with others, strive to understand the entirety of the ensemble (not just learn your part), and work hard to contribute to a greater group performance.

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