For Staff Sergeant Krista Joyce, serving in the military is easier than being a public school teacher.
Her one-year stint as a teacher “sent me running to join the military,” said Joyce, who was a middle and high school choir instructor in DeQueen, Ark., a small town in southwest Arkansas where the Dairy Queen is called Dairy DeQueen.
“The kids were surprised to learn not all Dairy Queens are DeQueens,” Joyce said of her students in a telephone interview Monday afternoon.
Though it wasn’t for her, Joyce said “I really do admire teachers and the demands they have on them.”
Joyce left teaching to perform with bands affiliated with the United States Air Force.
She is the lone female and vocalist with The Noteables, an all-male jazz band, whom she refers to as “my brothers.”
The Noteables will entertain local audiences at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center. The performance is free.
JOYCE’S singing career began early.
“Ever since I was a little girl my mom would put me up in front of people to sing,” she said of her childhood in Harleton, Texas. She came by her talent naturally. Her grandfather directed the music for her church and her father “was always singing a tune around the house,” she said.
Though she never had any formal voice training, she did at piano. In Monday’s performance she’ll also play.
Joyce studied music education at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall. She transferred to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in music education.
After her infamous stab at teaching, she joined the Band of the Air Force Reserve at Robins, Ga., Air Force Base in August, 1996. The combination of music and military suited Joyce so well she decided to be “career military.”
The job has its perks.
From 2002 to 2005, Joyce traveled across Europe from her base in Sembach, Germany, where she performed with The Ambassadors jazz ensemble and The Barnstormers, a folk and bluegrass ensemble. Other highlights include performing in Russia and Japan, she said, as well as being deployed in 1998 to Afghanistan to perform for troops serving in Desert Storm. Part of the band’s purpose is to lift troop morale overseas.
As part of the Heartland of America Band, Joyce and her Noteables bandmates regularly perform across an eight-state region in the Midwest. They’re on the road about once a month traveling mainly by bus, she said, though sometimes they resort to a caravan of vans and a 2-ton truck to haul their gear.
“It really is like a circus,” she said.
Joyce, 38, is married to Cully Joyce, who has recently retired from his position as musical director of the Heartland band. He stays busy arranging music and teaching music clinics, she said. He plays the tenor saxophone.
While in Iola Monday, jazz band members will meet with area high school jazz band students and conduct clinics.
Iola lands in the middle of a tour for The Noteables. They’ll come directly from a performance in Kansas City and proceed to Coffeyville. From there they’ll zip up to Louisburg before they’re back down in Pittsburg for a performance Feb. 5 at Pittsburg’s Memorial Auditorium
Doors open for Iola’s performance at 6:30. Transportation is available by calling the Bowlus at 365-4765.