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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— When we think of veterans that have served our country we often think about their roles as combat soldiers or in technical support of war, but there are other roles that veterans have played in our military.

Composer and music educator Roger Dickerson played music in his role in service and he reflected on his early days before his time in the Army.

“I started (playing piano) when I was very young. I would have to say before 4 or 5 years old. And there were musicians who lived in my neighborhood, we had a piano in the house and so music was everywhere for me is what I’m saying”

Dickerson played piano but also french horn and baritone horn which led to an undergraduate music scholarship at Dillard, and masters degree from Indiana University. Upon graduation from IU, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, playing in the 44th Army band, a job he took to heart.

Composer, pianist, music educator, and Army veteran Roger Dickerson (WGNO-TV)

“You’re serving your country and we all we trying to do it the best that we could in what we did.  We were musicians,” said Dickerson.

Dickerson and the army band spent significant time in Heidelberg, Germany playing for everything from officer’s events to marches, but upon his return home Dickerson’s work as an educator and composer took shape.  Among his most famous students of composition is Terence Blanchard, who’s composed music for dozens of films but recalled the first time he was hired to score a movie.

According to Blanchard, “My first thought was? Call Roger Dickerson. I called Roger and I said I have this project to do, what do I do? Do you know what he told me? Trust your training. To me that shows you A) the kind of confidence he had in me, but also the kind of confidence he had in what he taught me.

Dickerson’s brilliance as a musician, teacher and composer would be heard for generations in festivals, compositions, endless projects.  What’s not lost on Dickerson is the service he gave to his country during his army years.

“I could see very well a sense of having made a contribution to something very important, said Dickerson.