As a full-time musician and a full-time soldier, Erin Fleming knows the value of hard work. SPC Erin Fleming is a fifer in the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, a unit of active duty soldiers who play a crucial role in military ceremonies and perform shows to unite the public with its national history. The U. S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is a unit made up of active duty soldiers, usually with graduate degrees in flute performance, who carry on the traditions installed during George Washington's command of the U. S. Army.
Though Erin always had her sights set on a career in flute performance, she had not considered joining a military ensemble until she was pursuing her Master of Music degree at Florida State University. Making the transition from classical musician to U. S. Army soldier wasn’t easy. All members of the Fife and Drum Corps are required to go through Basic Combat Training (BCT). Erin says she was successful, in large part, because she drew upon her strengths as a musician. “The discipline I learned as a musician definitely gave me the strength I needed to survive. BCT is challenging physically, but even more so psychologically and emotionally. One needs thick skin and high levels of motivation, perseverance, and resilience, all of which are crucial to pursue a career in music.”
Erin has been a long-time believer in the fortifying power of music in a young person’s life. “Music offers so many things in terms of education: a chance for students to develop skills such as work ethic, goal-setting, accountability, and teamwork, all of which are necessary for a successful adult professional life.”
She remembers receiving such an education during her time in AYWS. Erin recalls, “The standards are high in AYWS, and that positive peer pressure helped me to hold myself accountable to do my part. Everyone in the Fife and Drum Corps is expected to perform on the same professional level with limited rehearsal time, so the accountability is crucial.”