Marine Field Band info?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Myshilohmy, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. Myshilohmy

    Myshilohmy Pianissimo User

    Jan 6, 2009
    So I'm in a bit of a dilemma here. I've been pondering this for years, but it's been nagging at me especially hard these past few weeks. I want to join the Marines. I'm probably going to join no matter what, but as a musician, I have been told if you make it in one of the Marine bands you are basically set for life (anyone care to confirm or deny this?) I try to live by what my high school band director said, "Never go through life thinking to yourself "I should have done this"". Those words convinced me to march 2 years (about to be my 3rd and last) year of drum corps, which I don't regret.

    My situation is that I hear the competition is insane. My teacher played in the Air Force band for several years, and believes it is not out of my reach (he is also a very nice guy, I'm not sure if he would tell me anyways if I wasn't good enough). I'm currently about to finish my second semester of college as a music performance major, and I've been asking everyone for advice. I know I don't need a degree to perform anywhere, and if I make it in a Marine Band I'm set for a while. And if I don't make a Marine band, I still get to spend at least 4 years of my life with the world's greatest military force. Currently my plan is if I drop out now, join the Marines (and hopefully Marine band) then good, but if I don't make it I would not start school again for music, I would study law enforcement to become a police officer (hopefully being a Marine would look good on my resume with no degree? Not sure about that one.) I love protecting people and busting criminals probably close to as much as I love music.

    I will post a video of me playing some stuff later tonight for some criticism. I'm looking for advice...I'm currently 21 years old and would like advice from someone who has either been in my shoes or is twice my age and has experience in something above. Please, if you are younger than me do not give me life advice. No offense but this is where I seek help from my elders.

    Also to anyone who has done this before what is to be expected at auditions? Can I audition before signing up for the Marines?
  2. bachstradivarius

    bachstradivarius New Friend

    Sep 27, 2012
    Formerly being in a normal Army band I can say that there will be an audition process for the band. So, go to your nearest recruiter and see what they can say but make sure you get all the facts before signing anything.
  3. Myshilohmy

    Myshilohmy Pianissimo User

    Jan 6, 2009
    I have been warned by SEVERAL people the last person you want to talk to is a normal recruiter. Rumor has it they will tell you anything you want to hear until you sign on the dotted line, then they own you. My teacher got tricked that way, they told him he had to join then audition, and he did so then they told him there weren't any spots available, so he was stuck there.
  4. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    "set for life" may be a strong phrase, but if you can be comfortable in the military lifestyle (lots of travel, military rules, etc) then it is a great way for you to make a decent living playing your horn. you have paid education, housing, insurance, retirement... all things no "free world" musician has (outside of a major orchestra, and the competition is deep there too!)

    I'd suggest finishing out your degree now, it just give your more options in the future... especially if you get an education degree. Music Performance degrees should be called "Pre-Unemployment". With an Ed degree you can teach somewhere (and get ANOTHER retirement and pension!) after your military career ends. When you are 65yo you can be cashing a 20yr pension check from the military and a 25yr pension check from the school district.... Then teach locally at a community college and TRIPLE DIP on payday!

    I imaging it is hard for a 20yo to imagine life in 45 years. But, it's going to happen, whether you plan or not for it.

    Get that degree now, and spend the next 2yrs seriously woodsheeding on fundamentals. Also, use this time to reach out to current and former military band members for their mentorship. I know that here in Phx we have several former USAF AoN players. Maybe Leisel Whittacker, Mark Wood, Brian MacDonald, or Jack Wengrowsky could offer advice.

    When I was in college 20-ish years ago Jack was the lead player in the 1:00 lab band and joined the Army as a musician. He would be a great resource to advise you... he's been in 20yrs now. Then call someone from 20years ago that just got a performance degree and didn't join the military. What are they doing now for a living?
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  5. trumpetdiva1

    trumpetdiva1 Piano User

    Jun 6, 2004
    I auditioned for the Marine band, the Army band, and the Navy band around ’93-’94. Each one had a different audition with different requirements. I have no idea what it would be like today. I played classical solos (prepared pieces from wind ensemble excerpts, M. Haydn’s Concerto on piccolo trumpet, Clarke’s Bride of the Waves for Navy, Charlier etudes, La Virgen de la Macarena Mendez solo), did some sight reading, and some asked for scales. I got to sit in and play with a brass quintet and jazz band for the Air Force. Out of all of them, the Air Force was the most difficult audition, but I received call backs from both Air Force bands and had offers with the Marine band, the Army band (Norfolk Va.), and Navy band (only trumpet player hired for the year). In one of the Air Force band auditions, there were six finalists and half had their master’s in music or were close to finishing it. They were from Eastman, Julliard, Cincinnati and other schools, but I was from Ball State. Out of six, three of us received call backs. For the marines, I just went in and played prepared pieces, sight-read, and played scales. I did not have to play with others in an ensemble situation. Check to see the music requirements in advance before the audition process.

    Outside of the audition preparation, I would make sure that the military lifestyle is for you. That can be a most difficult decision and one to give consideration. If you can, see if trumpet player, as a position, can be in your contract if you decide that this is the best choice for you. If you want it, then definitely try it. Remember that you are signing a contract for usually years.

    I admire Liesl Whitaker for her contribution to the Army bands. It can be a good decision.

    Best wishes,

  6. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

    May 14, 2011
    Hawaian homey
    All Marines are combat infantry first, so even though you are a bandsman, you will be trained as an infantryman and expected to be able to perform in that duty if required. Considering how you worded your post, it would seem that you would have little problem with that, maybe even welcome it, unlike others musicians who might dread it. But you need to know that, going in.

    Regarding who to contact, I would advise contacting the nearest band. Normally they would have an NCO in charge of auditions who would have the most current bandsman-specific information, which usually have some procedures different from the normal recruiting process.

    Be aware that some of the services are making draconian cuts in bands. If they haven't yet done them, they might be right over the horizon. Regarding the musical quality, not that all Marine field bands are less than stellar, but I would rate the quality of field bands: Air Force, Navy, Army, Army division bands/Marines. There will be less musical competition to get into a Marine band than into an Air Force field band but if the Marines are all filled up, musicality aside, the competition to get in is still a problem. Good luck.
  7. Myshilohmy

    Myshilohmy Pianissimo User

    Jan 6, 2009
    As promised, here are two very short videos I recorded just a few moments ago. My chops were very tired that is why they are so short, but here they are:

    The Debutante - YouTube

    Bugler's Holiday - YouTube

    Judging from these two videos of me at my worst, if anyone who has done military bands before thinks it is a long shot for me you are only helping me by telling me.
  8. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    While seemingly their are many financial benefits in military bands, I suppose you noticed that none of the players are receiving the income in officer pay grades or the larger retirement amounts therefore. Too, I believe there is a lot more travel on temporary duty away from home base as is disruptive to family settlement, even if not deployed outside the US. Family / dependent movement is not authorized at government expense for enlisted grade personnel, and if single, quarters aren't as nice.

    To become a police officer (which I was) is more and more requiring a college degree as hiring criteria, and much moreso for advancement, even advanced college degrees and preferably in areas of law enforcement or specialities in sciences where there is a need, vis Courts don't accept one as an expert unless they are so accredited in academia. Too, this is as rigorous training as the military.

    IMO a college drop-out is almost a negative in any employment opportunity.
  9. bachstradivarius

    bachstradivarius New Friend

    Sep 27, 2012
    I will tell you this that from the videos you shouldn't have any problem getting into the music program for just about any military band, however, with that being said you should look at all your avenues first. The military life isn't for everyone and it may not be what you think it is..... Anyways I will tell you from my experience I served for four years active duty and two and a half years in the reserve band and well from my own perspective it wasn't what I expected.
  10. aeterp

    aeterp New Friend

    Sep 2, 2010
    I am in the Army band stationed in Seoul Korea. I am proud to serve my country, and I am glad that I have a good job, but realize that there are many frustrating and difficult things in military life. We have to move a lot, do things like guard duty (as I type this I am pulling a 24 hour cq shift), and warrior training and duties often take away from practice/rehearsal time. There are lots of really great musicians in the military, and one big plus is that you can meet a lot of different people and you can get very close with your coworkers. I met my wife at my first assignment. She is a horn player/vocalist. While there are lots of great benefits to this job, it certainly doesn't guarantee you will be "set for life". There is a lot of hard work involved. A college degree helps you get promoted in any job, military included. Finishing your degree is one of the most important things you can do to help your career, whatever it may be. My advice is to finish college first and practice like your life depends on it. If you are a professional musician, it does. 4-5 hours a day is a good goal for a trumpet player. If you do not improvise, then learn. Play every style of music you can. Learn thestandard trumpet concerti (start with Haydn, Neruda, and Hummel).

    I did not finish the jazz studies program I started at Indiana university, and I constantly regret it. It is possible, but difficult to get a degree while working. (I am getting close...but it is tough) Stay positive, buckle down, study, and practice. Find people to play with, go to jam sessions, and take every gig you can get. As I grow older I realize that three years is not really a long time at all. Grind it out and finish school; every obstacle you overcome makes you better. Also, college should be one of the best times of your life. So many great memories...

    I do not know a whole lot about the marine bands, but I have heard that they have a little more of the combat infantry mentality than the other services. There are some excellent musicians in the marines for sure; but be aware that the discipline can be tough, and it is not a job for the faint of heart.

    Make sure to stay in good physical shape. Run and do push ups, sit ups and pull ups to get your body conditioned. It is hard to tell how you play from those short clips you posted, and audition standards fluctuate depending on the needs of the service you seek to join, but it is a definite possibility if you put in the work. I have heard many of the lower quality musicians who were getting in the Army 5-10 years ago are not passing the auditions now, and as a result the lower ranking soldiers who are just getting in (on average) tend to outplay many of their bosses and can find some ensembles frustrating at times. Many of the new soldiers are coming in with bachelor and masters degrees, or with years of professional experience. Some of those older military cats can really play though...don't get me wrong. Some of the best musicians I have ever met are senior enlisted Army and Navy guys. I am just talking in generalities, not every individual case. To my knowledge, most of the Marine recruits are still coming straight from high school, and as a result they have a lot of young musicians and lower enlisted members and a slightly higher turnover rate. They could be currently following a trend similar to the army though...I am not sure.They do have some great NCOs though, and they certainly have a proud tradition of instilling strict discipline in their troops.

    Try to find musicians in the marines to ask questions, and contact the marine band nearest you. Do not sign a contract without knowing what you are getting into. Don't limit yourself...look into every service. The Air Force and Navy have less bands, and can be a little more selective than the others. As far as the overall quality of music you get In general, I would echo what Kehaulani wrote in his post. Although, if you are really into marching, the Marine bands look really great when they march. Pretty tight stuff. Personally, I sometimes wish that I had joined the Air Force or Navy for the better assignments and somewhat less of the "warrior" aspect of the job, but I do not regret joining the Army. I needed the discipline, and now I am a much better musician than before. (Not because the Army made me a good trumpet player, but because I am making the best of the opportunity and structure I have to develop my skills). It is a good job overall, and I have met some really great musicians and friends.

    Best of luck!
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012

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