Lewis' Career in Music and the Military Leads Him to AU

Lewis' Career in Music and the Military Leads Him to AU

11/7/18 ASHLAND, Ohio – Joseph Lewis Jr., Ashland University director of bands, is honored to have a career which combines his two worlds of music and the military. Not only will he lead the Ashland University Eagle Marching Band into Jack Miller Stadium for the football game against Northern Michigan on Nov. 10, but he also will recognize fellow military men and women for their service at a special halftime show in observance of Veterans Day.  

Lewis' journey into a career combining music and the military began in the summer of 2000 when he enlisted in the Ohio Army National Guard, attended 10 weeks of basic training and completed three weeks on-the-job training.

After completing the necessary steps to become a member of the Ohio National Guard's 122nd Army Band, he then enrolled as a music education and trombone performance major at the Ohio State University in January of 2001, and went on to earn his masters in music education from Bowling Green State University. In 2014, he attended Warrant Officer Candidate School to become the new 122nd Army Band Commander after a 15-year tenure in the band.

His journey then took a turn which led him to Ashland University when he was named the director of bands for the 2017-2018 academic year. Now in his second year at AU, he is making great strides in enhancing the Eagle Marching Band and Symphonic Band programs while continuing his leadership with the 122nd Army Band.

As the leader of both programs, Lewis is responsible for everything from recruiting and auditioning new members, to managing the various ensembles, selecting the repertoire and organizing the "missions" (the military term for their events including military ceremonies, military balls, honorable transfer of remains, and concert tours). 

Lewis sees multiple benefits from working for both organizations, which he has already implemented. Earlier this fall he collaborated with the Ashland High School (AHS) music department who hosted the 122nd's Flashback Rock Band for a day of workshops with the high school students as well as a public concert that evening. Lewis emphasized that "the concert was good, but the workshopping with the high school students was great." Later in the semester, the AHS and AU Marching Bands performed a joint halftime show at each other's home games with over 200 musicians. These are great recruiting opportunities for the 122nd Army Band and the Ashland University Band.

For students looking to enroll in a college music program, there are great benefits for serving in the 122nd Army Band including scholarships, tuition assistance, student loan repayment program and G.I. Bill cash assistance for educational expenses such as books, housing, food and more. For a six-year commitment of attending drill one weekend per month along with an additional 15 days through the year to perform in parades, public concerts, and ceremonies -- these benefits could be someone's opportunity for a college degree. The scholarship program covers up to 100 percent tuition paid to any state-supported school within the state of Ohio, or up to the amount of the highest state school tuition in Ohio toward a private university education. 

To become a musician with the 122nd Army Band, which is considered a "civilian acquired skill," those interested should contact Lewis through the Band's web site or Facebook page to schedule an audition. The audition is comprised of two portions consisting of prepared and quickly prepared performance. For the prepared portion, those auditioning must prepare at least three contrasting pieces which emphasize their technical, musical and stylistic abilities. The evening before the audition, those auditioning will be sent a packet of music of varying styles that will judge their ability to quickly prepare for a short-notice performance. Out of the 40-point audition scoring, a score of at least an 18 is needed to quality. Lewis makes it clear to those enlisting that they must also audition for the Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at the Army School of Music in Virginia Beach, be admitted and complete their 10-week training. 

Throughout his career, it has been Lewis' goal to teach at the college level and he enthusiastically invites all military veterans to this Saturday's 1 p.m. football game where they will be recognized for their service on the field at halftime. Veterans will receive one free game ticket upon arrival at the stadium. To secure their ticket, veterans should contact Joe Lewis at jlewisjr@ashland.edu or 419.289.5132.

Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2018, is a mid-sized, comprehensive private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Religiously affiliated with the Brethren Church, Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###