I know Tim Sutfin because he was in the West Point Band with me for a year. He's now transferred down to the Pershing's Own in D.C. He's one of the best clarinetists I've played with, and I had fun reading his responses! Happy Reading!!!
K.M. When did you join the military and where have you been stationed?
T.S. I enlisted in the Army August 6th, 2008. I was stationed with the band at West Point until April 2010 when I moved to The United States Army Band in Washington DC.
K.M. Where were you before you came to the military?
T.S. Prior to winning the West Point audition, I was second clarinet in the Oklahoma City Philharmonic from 2005-2008. I was also teaching freshman music history at Oklahoma City University.
K.M. What is your favorite basic training memory?
T.S. I don't know if it qualifies as being a favorite memory, but the story I like to tell the most is when I was punched in the face by a Drill Sergeant during Level 1 Modern Army Combatives Certification. Obviously I'm not very good at dodging punches since I was hit right in the nose, briefly blacked out, and came to in a massive pool of blood spilling out of my face. Oh the things you do to play clarinet for a living. . . .
K.M. What did your family and friends think when you joined the military?
T.S. My mom took the news pretty hard, she worries about the smallest things, so obviously watching her son go off to basic training was a big shock. My dad was proud of me for wanting to take on the challenge, but I am convinced both of my parents still have no idea what I actually do for a living. My friends are mostly all musicians, so they all understood exactly how awesome it was to win a job in a premiere military band.
K.M. What has been your most memorable clarinet moment in the military?
T.S. Performing at Avery Fisher Hall to a sold out audience.
K.M. On an average week, what do you do at work?
T.S. The normal week at TUSAB consists of concert band rehearsals/concerts as well as providing extra support for funerals and ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and around the DC area. I am also currently involved with the planning committee of the first annual National Collegiate Solo Competition, be sure to get your application in by March 18th!!
K.M. Would you encourage interested clarinetists to join the military?
T.S. Absolutely. Deciding to audition for the West Point job was the best decision I ever made in my musical career.
K.M. What is the weirdest thing you do at your job?
T.S. Definitely being an observer on the drug tests. There is something very odd about having to watch your coworkers pee in a cup. . .
K.M. What are your after military plans?
T.S. I can't say I have post-Army plans yet, but I can pretty much guarantee they will involve music in some fashion.
K.M. Do you have any regrets about joining the military?
T.S. No. This job has offered me more opportunities than I ever had while I was working in Oklahoma.
K.M. It seems like everyone was in a military band at some point, and there's always that gossip about which great symphony players were in the military. Who is someone you know that was a military musician at some point?
T.S. Larry Combs, Steve Girko. . . I know there are others but my mind is drawing a blank right now.
K.M. What is the number one question you get asked by the general public after a concert? (For example: so you are IN the army?)
T.S. While I was at West Point the number one question always was, "Are you a cadet?" and now in DC I usually get, "Are you in the Old Guard. In case you are wondering, the answer to both questions is no.
K.M. Do you feel any more or less patriotic than you were before being in a military band?
T.S. I feel exponentially more patriotic. After spending 2.5 months in basic training with young kids about to go risk their lives for their country, you can't help but feel more proud to be serving America. Also, seeing the looks on peoples faces when you play Stars and Stripes Forever in front of the Capitol Building, or Washington Monument always gets me a little choked up.
K.M. What is a question you would ask each other in an interview?
T.S. How do you stay motivated to keep developing your clarinet skills?
K.M. What is your favorite note on the clarinet?
T.S. Throat A, with 0xx 0xx +C key for resonance :)
K.M. What is your most memorable musical moment?
T.S. Definitely performing Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time at a rich lawyer's house in Oak Park IL. There were about 200 people crammed into the living room, and after the performance a woman came up to me with a tears in her eyes, grabbed my hand, and just said, "Thank you."
K.M. If you could magically wake up and play any kind of music, what would you do?
T.S. I would be touring with my favorite band Muse.
K.M. What are you listening to now?
K.M. Bonus nerdo question... What is your clarinet set-up right now?
T.S. Buffet R-13 clarinets, Vandoren M30-13 mouthpiece, BG revelation ligature, Vandoren V-12 #4 reeds.