Man wearing blue Navy uniform with a whit hat and white gloves salutes

Music alum marches into new role with Navy School of Music

When the Navy School of Music’s Ceremonial Band unites in 2021 for rehearsals and performances, Patrick Cotter, ’96 Music Ed., will conduct, educate and aim to inspire some of the nation’s best military musicians.

Cotter, Musician 1st Class, was assigned in November to the Navy SOM, located in Little Creek, Virginia. In addition to conducting the school’s Ceremonial Band, which has participated in many significant national events, he will lead an ensemble.

The three-year assignment continues Cotter’s military career as a music educator and follows a celebrated stint as the leading petty officer and trombone instrumentalist in the U.S. Fleet Forces Band.

Cotter’s military band career has included numerous stops across the United States and abroad including visits to Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Although travelling and performing has been rewarding for Cotter, teaching has offered a deeper purpose.

“There is a great sense of service through music that is common with music education,” Cotter said. “Music is the medium for which educators realize a separate end, creating the whole person in their students.”

His dedication to Music education began at Penn State in the early 90s and although he knew a career with the Navy band was a possibility, he chose to pursue, and eventually earned, a graduate degree in trombone performance from the University of Miami. At the same time, he was married to his wife, Bonnie and when she took a job as a high school teacher in Massachusetts, Cotter said he put his military band thoughts on hold.

In 2005, the high school his wife was teaching at faced budget cuts and the couple considered the Navy Fleet program. Cotter auditioned and was accepted.

“I originally joined with a career intention, though this specific assignment to Navy School of Music wasn’t something I even knew about at first,” Cotter said. “I’ve always had a love of teaching and at each duty station I’ve been deeply involved in training and career counseling.”

Educating and mentoring students will remain Cotter’s focus throughout his time with the Ceremonial Band, and during any future assignments, but he is quick to credit his Penn State education with instilling in him the values that steer his career.

“The thing that Penn State gave me was a broad range of experiences that always focused on music,” Cotter said. “Mark (Lusk) always told his trombone students that the world doesn’t need any more band directors, it needs music teachers.”

In addition to conducting the school’s Ceremonial Band, which has participated in many significant national events, he will teach ensemble paying.

The three-year assignment continues Cotter’s military career as a music educator and follows a celebrated stint as the leading petty officer and trombone instrumentalist in the U.S. Fleet Forces Band.

Cotter’s military band career has included numerous stops across the United States and abroad including visits to Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Although travelling and performing has been rewarding for Cotter, teaching has offered a deeper purpose.

“There is a great sense of service through music that is common with music education,” Cotter said. “Music is the medium for which educators realize a separate end, creating the whole person in their students.”

His dedication to Music education began at Penn State in the early 90s and although he knew a career with the Navy band was a possibility, he chose to pursue, and eventually earned, a graduate degree in trombone performance from the University of Miami. At the same time, he was married to his wife, Bonnie and when she took a job as a high school teacher in Massachusetts, Cotter said he put his military band thoughts on hold.

In 2005, the high school his wife was teaching at faced budget cuts and the couple considered the Navy Fleet program. Cotter auditioned and was accepted.

“I originally joined with a career intention, though this specific assignment to Navy School of Music wasn’t something I even knew about at first,” Cotter said. “I’ve always had a love of teaching and at each duty station I’ve been deeply involved in training and career counseling.”

Educating and mentoring students will remain Cotter’s focus throughout his time with the Ceremonial Band, and during any future assignments, but he is quick to credit his Penn State education with instilling in him the values that steer his career.

“The thing that Penn State gave me was a broad range of experiences that always focused on music,” Cotter said. “Mark (Lusk) always told his trombone students that the world doesn’t need any more band directors, it needs music teachers.”

Share