Blue Steel reaches out to America's youth through music

  • Published
  • By Gino Mattorano
  • Air Force Academy Public Affairs
The Air Force Academy Band's Blue Steel Rock Group hosted a youth concert Sunday at Arnold Hall, featuring the Cadet Orchestra and two youth symphony orchestras.

While combining a rock band with a symphony orchestra may seem like an unusual pairing, Blue Steel has been successfully working to reach out to America's youth through music, and so far, the venture seems to be a hit.

"Combining Rock and Roll bands with orchestras is very popular right now, so this program gives us the opportunity to perform for and with the students," said Blue Steel's Master Sgt. Jeremy Laukhus.

"As part of our education outreach mission, we've been performing with youth symphonies," he continued. "This was our seventh concert like this, but the first time we brought together three different youth symphony orchestras.

Sergeant Laukhus is the noncommissioned officer in charge of Blue Steel, and was the architect of Sunday's concert, which included members of the Academy's Cadet Orchestra, the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra, from California.

"The education outreach doesn't begin and end with the concert," Sergeant Laukhus said. "We also have several rehearsals and dinners before and after the concerts that give us the opportunity interact more with the kids. It's especially important for us to reach kids at a young age, because the Academy has very high standards. If we can reach the kids at an early age and impress upon them the importance of keeping their grades up, it gives them a goal to reach and makes their high school experience that much better."

Including members of the Academy's Cadet Orchestra gave the middle-school-aged musicians the chance to interact directly with cadets.

"This gives the other students the opportunity to ask cadets questions about life at the Academy, the majors available and helps them to see that even though the person sitting next to them is wearing a military uniform, he's also a violin player just like they are," Sergeant Laukhus concluded.

Sarah Biagini, a member of the Pasadena Youth Orchestra, thoroughly enjoyed participating in the event.

"This has been an amazing experience," she said. "We get to meet other people who have the same goals and love music just as much as we do. Working with the rock band is very different, but they're all amazing people and musicians, and it's been great to get to know them and learn from them."

Blue Steel is a five-piece pop-rock group comprising members of the Air Force Academy Band, a 50-member organization, whose mission includes troop morale, community relations and education outreach.