With a family legacy of military service and music, Spc. Tim Durst and his wife, Spc. Aisha Durst, are proud to represent their country as members of the 484th Army Reserve Band out of Milwaukee.
“It’s a good way to serve our country in a way that we’re really good at,” Tim said.
Music, however, isn’t just part of their military duties — it’s their life.
The couple owns and operates Blue Note Music in Platteville, Wisconsin. In addition, Aisha is a full-time band teacher at the local middle and high school, and Tim is an organist at a local church.
But it wasn’t always this way.
A foray into music
Raised on a dairy farm in Richland Center, Wisconsin, Tim grew up singing with his father while doing chores together on the farm. Tim began taking piano lessons from his father at 6 years old and eventually joined his middle school choir. And, when he was old enough, band.
Despite his immersion into music, Tim didn’t initially see a future in it.
“I was exploring other options,” he said. “But none of those really seemed as comfortable or as easy as continuing in music, so I went to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville (UW–Platteville) as a music major.”
Aisha grew up in Hinsdale, Illinois, and unlike with Tim, music wasn’t as prominent in her childhood. She participated in band and other musical extracurriculars in high school, but had no intention of going into music.
Instead, she pursued software engineering at UW–Platteville.
“As I continued on,” she said, “I realized that wasn’t really my passion, so I switched [my major to music].”
One thing Aisha always knew for certain, however, was that she wanted to carry on her family’s legacy of service.
“My dad was in the Air Force, and my grandpa was in the Army,” she said. “So, I knew that I would serve in some capacity.”
The Dursts met in 2008 as members of UW-Platteville’s concert band, and by the next year, she had joined the Army Reserve as a signals and systems support specialist — not yet fully confident in her musical abilities.
Known as the largest employer of musicians in the world, the Army Band requires a high level of proficiency and versatility.
“I didn’t know that the Army band would be an option for me because I was not really that good at music, especially right out of high school,” Aisha said.
Six years later, she decided to re-enlist, this time as a member of the Army band – and was selected. Within two years, she’d convinced Tim, whose family also has a tradition of service, to join her.
“My dad was in the Army during Vietnam, my grandma was in the Women’s Air Corps during World War II, and I had several great uncles in World War II,” he said. “So, it’s always been in the back of my mind.”
Making music in the 484th Army Reserve Band
As members of the 484th Army Reserve Band, Tim and Aisha spend their drill weekends practicing with their bandmates. With the French horn his primary instrument, Tim plays most often with the brass quintet, while Aisha specializes in clarinet, playing soprano as a member of the woodwind quintet and bass for concert band. Through these musical performance teams, they are dispatched based on the specific event, or mission.
“We usually do parades, but we’ll also do sitdown ceremonies,” Aisha said. “But we still have our Army commitments, such as qualifying on our weapons and PT tests.”
Although their Army Reserve duties, along with managing the store and raising two children, take up most of their time, Tim and Aisha wouldn’t have it any other way. In addition to the camaraderie with their fellow soldiers, they relish the time away the experience offers.
“The opportunity to perform with such great musicians is really enjoyable,” Tim said. “I also enjoy that I get to spend my drill weekends with my wife — time spent together doing what we love.”