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Thursday, December 13, 2018

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Master Gunnery Sergeant John Mula earned a master's degree in music from SDSU in 1987. (Credit: U.S. Marine Band) Master Gunnery Sergeant John Mula earned a master's degree in music from SDSU in 1987. (Credit: U.S. Marine Band)

Alumnus Represents SDSU in U.S. Marine Band

Master Gunnery Sergeant John Mula performed in his sixth presidential inauguration earlier this year.
By Teresa Monaco

Founded in 1798, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band is revered as America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. The ensemble is known for exemplifying the pinnacle of musical excellence, and has performed for every U.S. president since John Adams. San Diego State University alumnus and clarinetist Master Gunnery Sergeant John Mula joined “The President’s Own” in 1996 and has performed at six presidential inaugurations.

Education and life experiences

Mula earned a master's degree in music from SDSU in 1987.

He cited his most influential music professors as Marian Liebowitz and Harold Warman, as well as Charles Friedrichs in the band department.

“I loved my time at SDSU,” said Mula. “They helped me adapt to California and even helped me with the practical things. I felt cared for and challenged as they guided me into the beginning of my career as a musician and teacher.”

Mula also singled out Terry O’Donnell as another influential professor.

“Some of my most favorite playing was done under his baton playing for musicals," Mula said. "I cherish my memories at SDSU. I felt I was learning from people active in the musical world. So many teachers were examples of how to live the musical life I wanted to live.”

Following his graduation from SDSU, Mula worked as an elementary school teacher for the Santee School District and freelanced many evenings with the San Diego Symphony and Orchestra.

“These experiences led me to pursue a doctoral degree in clarinet at Florida State University,” said Mula. “I was living there when the position in the U.S. Marine Band became available.”

A salute to teamwork

As a member of “The President’s Own,” Mula plays in the largest section of the band, made up of 26 clarinetists, which he calls “a fantastic team that works well to accomplish our mission.”

“The President’s Own” participates in a varied performance calendar, including honor funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, ceremonies for foreign dignitaries and a multitude of other ceremonial and civic functions in the Washington, D.C. area.

Mula plans to continue his career in the U.S. Marine Band for the time being. When asked about future plans, he responded, “I am looking forward to my life after the band to continue teaching, playing more piano, and staying involved with music.”

But for now, he remains SDSU’s representative in one of the nation’s most prestigious musical ensembles.