MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
Each fall, the bands throughout the Marine Corps nominate one to become Musician of the Year, and one staff noncommissioned officer from their unit, to compete on a board for a chance to be deemed Staff Noncommissioned Officer Musician of the Year.
Staff Sgt. Joey A. Payton, enlisted conductor, Marine Band San Diego, proved worthy of the position of Staff NCO Musician of the Year for 2006, after a decision process that included the evaluation of his fitness reports, performance record and a recording of piccolo music arranged and performed by him.
“He was selected from among all the staff noncommissioned officers in all 12 of the Marine Corps bands, the Drum and Bugle Corps and the School of Music,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jim Ford, head of the Marine Corps Music Program, Headquarters Marine Corps, Quantico, Va.
Ford said Musician of the Year and Staff Noncommissioned Officers Musician of the Year are titles that are earned through hard work and dedication toward one’s trade.
Payton was nominated by his peers and his package was submitted in October. A month later the results, and his victory, was announced.
“It’s a good feeling to be recognized, even more so when it is by your peers,” said Payton. “Your peers are your biggest critics. They know what to expect of you.”
Payton, who has studied music since middle school, has been a Marine Corps musician for 18 years. Since his arrival to the depot in June 2005, his primary duty has been conducting the band at performances.
Ford said that Payton not being required to play his instrument as a conductor helped his case when the judges reviewed his submission.
“Even though he isn’t required to play, he still plays better than anyone else,” said Ford. “He is a very talented professional and one of the best flute players I have ever heard, period.”
The six-foot-six-inch Payton leads the band at more the 400 performances each year, including graduation ceremonies and holiday concerts.
“This title says a lot about Marine Band San Diego, not just me,” said Payton. “All I do is wave my arms, the musicians make the music,” he said.
He is content in knowing that the hard work and dedication of the band does not go unnoticed.
For his victory, Payton will receive a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal from the commandant of the Marine Corps and a noncommissioned officers’ sword from the Marine Music Association. He will also be flown to Chicago for dinner at the Marine Corps Leadership Symposium in December, all expenses paid.
“Each year the competition is harder and it’s harder to pick a winner,” said Ford. “The keen competition keeps the judges on their toes.”