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Michelle A. Rakers
Biography of Marine Band Assistant Director Michelle A. Rakers

Joined May 1998 as a trumpet/cornetist
Assistant Director July 1, 2004-April 30, 2018


Assistant Director Major Michelle A. Rakers joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in May 1998 as a trumpeter/cornetist. She was appointed Assistant Director and commissioned a first lieutenant in July 2004 and promoted to captain by Commandant of the Marine Corps General Michael W. Hagee on Jan. 1, 2006. She was promoted to major and appointed Executive Officer and Senior Assistant Director in July 2014. She was both the first female Assistant Director and first female commissioned officer in the history of “The President’s Own.”

With the Marine Band, Maj. Rakers performed at the White House, in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, and across the country during the band’s annual concert tour. As an advocate for education outreach, she led the band’s Music in the Schools, Music in the High Schools, and Concerto Competition programs from 2007-14. Additionally, she served as a conductor and supervisor for the acclaimed fall and winter Chamber Music Series, which feature the virtuoso musicians of “The President’s Own.”

Maj. Rakers, a 1986 graduate of the Marian Heights Academy in Ferdinand, Ind., received a bachelor’s degree in music management from the University of Evansville in Indiana in 1990. She continued her studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., where she earned a master’s degree in trumpet performance in 1991. She received her doctorate from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., in 2015 where she studied with Harlan Parker. She also studied conducting with Mallory Thompson of Northwestern University and Kate Tamarkin of The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Her trumpet instructors included James Bursen of the University of Evansville, Vincent Cichowicz of Northwestern University, and Chris Gekker of the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado. Prior to joining “The President’s Own,” Maj. Rakers enjoyed an active career as an orchestral trumpeter, having performed with many orchestras nationally to include the Evansville Philharmonic in Indiana, the Owensboro Symphony in Kentucky, and the Kalamazoo Symphony in Michigan.

She was nominated as an Assistant Director in 2003, and on June 13, 2004, she conducted her first band concert at the U.S. Capitol. During her tenure as an Assistant Director with “The President’s Own,” Maj. Rakers was very active as a guest conductor, clinician, and public speaker, having worked with all-state and honor festivals and offered workshops at the Sibelius Academy of Helsinki, Finland, and universities throughout the United States. Maj. Rakers has also appeared as a guest conductor with bands and orchestras throughout the nation, and internationally with the Slesvigske Musikkorps of Haderslev, Denmark, the Helsinki Guards Band, Finland, and the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain. In 2009 she received the University of Evansville’s Distinguished Alumni Award and was granted an honorary induction into Tau Beta Sigma, a national music sorority.