Military Band

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by erd402, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. erd402

    erd402 Pianissimo User

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    PREPARE YOURSELF TO READ A NOVEL, BECAUSE THAT'S BASICALLY WHAT I ENDED UP WITH HERE.



    So, I had a nice "discussion" with my parents today. Discussion is in quotation marks because it was more of me trying to present my side while they yelled and ignored what I said completely.

    As you might know, right now I'm in my third week of an embouchure change. I'm slowly making progress and am very happy with the results I'm getting. My tone using this new embouchure is much more pure and rounded. The first week I was barely able to play just a low C, but now I'm playing up to a top space E on the staff. I'm very excited for future progress and to see where I'm at after 6 months.

    Now for some background info. As some of you may also know I'm 17 and work in fast food. My job pays for my private lessons ($60 a month) my phone ($70 a month) and anything else I do. Basically, now I have no choice but to work since I have a contract for my phone. I really don't want to continue in fast food for the rest of high school though. I think that working around fast food can help lead to some bad decisions health-wise, as you could probably predict. I'm not a very healthy person (I'll admit it) but my job adds to it even more. The thing is my manager here is great. She completely supports me and is willing to get me off work whenever needed for band or for looking at colleges, even though she has a strict policy of not allowing more than one request for a day off each month per employee. What can I say, she spoils me. Out of what is available to me, this is a great job and a good position for me to be in. I would much rather be payed to play my trumpet though. Once I get back to my normal playing level, I would like to audition for a military band. This would be a good opportunity to let me play along better musicians, get payed doing what I love, and let me see what the outside musical world is like.

    The band would be the 249th Army National Guard Band. They are the only military band in West Virginia, so they play at military ceremonies for all branches, and for government functions. They're stationed in Morgantown, WV and if I'd join I would have to go up one weekend each a month for drill, and of course play at the performances. They haven't been deployed since 1969 during the Vietnam War and have a very low chance of being deployed anytime soon, and from what I've read when military bands are deployed they usually play, perform security, and do community outreach kind of things. I understand that the possibility of fighting is always there, but it just seems very minuscule.

    I would be getting better pay than I'm getting at Arbys while also getting money for college among many other benefits. The college I'm planning to go to isn't exactly cheap so any financial help I can get for that is of course welcomed.

    I've been researching over the past month or two, and from what I understand I'd go through basic training (which I think would be great for me), go to the Army School of Music (definitely wouldn't mind this part), and then of course perform my service for the country. I think this would be a great opportunity for me, and also a great time to audition. They are really in need of trumpet players among others so I could use this to my advantage.

    Now to the conversation with my parents. They don't want me in the service because they don't want to take any chance of me being deployed. They also don't understand why I would want to join the military to play trumpet. They want me to go to a cheap school which seems to barely have a music program and do what it takes to meet the requirements to be a music teacher. I don't want to just meet those requirements though, I want to be the best player I can be which I think would transfer over to being a better teacher which our schools are lacking right now. I'm going down to Morehead State University in June for a week long music camp. I think spending a week with Greg Wing is going to be an incredible experience yet they can't understand why I would even want to do it.

    My mom told me if I wanted to play than to join an orchestra (like its as easy as just saying it) and that no matter which college I go to I'm going to come out just as good of a player. If it worked that way everyone would be going to cheap colleges and there would be no Eastman School of Music or Julliard. Sometimes I think its ignorance, but today I figured it out. It's rejection. They refuse to believe that going to a better college or playing in a group with better people will help my playing. They are the most stubborn people I know and they refuse to even listen my side. They just scream and yell the same thing over and over, and their info come from no actual source; they just make up facts as they go. I've tried to be open, but they are just so closed-minded.

    What I'm looking for from you guys and gals is advice. Who here was or is currently in a military band? If anyone has more information on what its like I would love any of it. Anything about deployment would be great because that's their major concern. How can I deal with my parents. I told them I'd probably join anyway when I get in college so they might as well support me and let me join earlier, but they said no. They said they'll refuse to sign anything for it and that I will not join while I live under their roof. My dad said that if a recruiter comes to talk to me or if he even gets a phone call from a military recruiter he will make sure they never talk to me again. I don't want to make them mad but its my life and I want them to accept my decisions. It's to the point where its really just extreme nonsense, like they're not even trying to think logically about it.

    If you made it all the way through this, then I'd like to thank you. This forum has played a big role in defining me as a person. The way you all generously help others at the expense of your own time is very thoughtful. I greatly appreciate it.
     
  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    I spent 10 years as an active duty soldier in the US Army band program, and 4 years in a National Guard band before calling it quits.

    These are the bands I was a part of and what I did at each band:

    1.) First US Army Band, Fort Meade, Maryland. Was in the concert band, ceremonial band, Big Band and brass quintet. Winters were slow - lots of rehearsals and practice time, summers were very busy. This was an extremely rewarding experience for me and it filled out the last part of my first 3 year enlistment - the first 8 months were basic training and the basic course at the Armed forces School of Music.

    2.) The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, Fort Myer, Virginia. I spent 7 years there before I got out to be a computer guy. This was a cool gig in terms of the simple cool factor - Presidential Inaugurations, White House arrival ceremonies for visiting foreign heads of state, lots of other high profile jobs and a fair amount of travel all over the US and abroad - for out of country trips I only went to Nova Scotia and Berlin, Germany.

    3.) 229th Maryland National Guard Band - 4 years. I got involved with this about a year and a half after I left active duty Army. We did a lot of fun stuff - lots of ceremonies, parades and concerts - at times it was pretty busy. I left this group for a couple of reasons. The first was a time thing - it wasn't so much how much time it took, but it was WHEN it took it - typically holidays and that kind of thing where I wanted to spend my time with my family and couldn't. The other reason is that when I got out, the US was deploying troops like hotcakes, and in my current station in life - married, two kids, homeowner, IT career - I just didn't feel that a deployment was a good idea. Keep in mind that bands typically don't get deployed to forward positions to fight, but they do sometimes get sent overseas, and a lot of times they'll get deployed to do various things around the country. That band was closer to getting deployed than it had ever been (it never did though) and I just didn't want to take that chance so when my time was up, I let it go.

    EDIT: I should qualify that regarding the deployment thing, had I been the young and single guy I was when I first joined to be an Army Bandsman, it wouldn't have been an issue. I'd have rolled with it and taken it in stride - it was only due to the conflict it would have cause with my commitment to my family and my IT career that I decided that I was going to get out when my time was up.

    A National Guard band - at least the one I was in - doesn't operate with the typical "one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer" schedule of most National Guard units due to the kind of mission they carry out. They'll do half days here and there for the ceremonies they cover, and "drill" for us often consisted of a rehearsal evening once a week. The truth is, I probably should have stuck it out, but I'm a guy who typically has a lot of irons in the fire, and I was juggling so many things that the time commitment on top of the chance for deployment wasn't something I wanted to continue.

    My thought is this - if you want to do it then do it, but you'll probably have to wait until you are 18 to do it. I hate to say it, but it does sound like there is some ignorance going on with your folks when it comes to the world of music and those who work in it. I think this is a great idea for you for a bunch of different reasons, but mainly it would give you a chance to do some gigging, get paid for doing it, and it would help to fund your education.

    I have absolutely no regrets about the time I spent as a military bandsman with maybe the exception of getting out to pursue a career behind a desk, although had I done a 20 year career I'd be done by now so ultimately I suppose it doesn't matter.

    I realize you are still in HS and that you are still under your parents' rule, but they aren't going to live your life - what you do in your life ultimately will be up to you, even if it means joining the National Guard and finding yourself deployed in some capacity. It's not such a terrible thing to serve your country after all. Once you turn 18, the choice is up to you, and they'll simply have to accept whatever decision you choose to make. I'm not saying to outright rebel against your parents, but as the parent of a son who is almost your age (he'll be 17 this summer) I just don't think they are being very realistic and are acting as they are due to fear of the unknown, i.e., the military and what it's all about, and they don't really understand what a great opportunity it would be for you to be able to roll up serving your country, playing music, making money and getting an education into a nice package.

    If you want some more personal insight about it, I'm always willing to chat it up - PM me, and if you want, I'll even send you my cell # so we can chat about it in real-time.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011
  3. Puckish

    Puckish Piano User

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    trickg: Could you answer one question for me (and apparently for the parents of the original poster, as well): If you sign up for a military band, with (in your mind) the specific intent of playing music in a band or orchestra with quality personnel . . . is there a good chance you will find yourself deployed in a non-musical endeavor complete with roadside bombs and multiple, unanticipated, re-deployments? As a parent I can sympathize with this young man's parents. I had a nephew who signed up for what he thought was going to be a non-combat avenue for "serving his country" . . . and he was killed by an IED on his third deployment to Iraq. Even prior to his death he was showing signs of PTSD so if the IED hadn't gotten him he was going to settle back into society a "messed up individual". His parents are devastated. His recruiter is sitting, safely in his office, with a cheesy grin on his face because this young man didn't understand the fluid nature of the contract he was signing.

    Kid: listen to your parents. Find some other avenue for your music education until our military recruiters stop playing fast and loose with the hopes and dreams of our young people. Hint: that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.
     
  4. CalebWayne

    CalebWayne Pianissimo User

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    Mar 19, 2010
    Being a senior in high school, I can vouch for what Puckish is saying. The recruiters are relentless in trying to recruit young men (mostly) and women to join the military without being completely open about what can happen. I know this because it has happened to me. Luckily, I took it upon myself to educate myself on what the risks were and made an informed decision. While I will serve my country if called, I will not be doing it just to play in a military band. However, if you truly desire to serve our country, I applaud your bravery, but don't join the military just to get into a military band.
     
  5. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

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    From what I read erd402, you actually have a pretty good plan. It's unfortunate that your parents are so unreceptive, while suggesting no good alternative.

    Caveat is indeed the contract. You want to be sure about what you're getting into. I though that when joining a military band the experience would be pretty much what Patrick described but the military has ways of disposing of you as they please once you're in so beware.

    On the other hand, if one is sincere about serving, this is the kind of thing that must be accepted as part of the deal. There are very few other options out there that will get you a free pass to college, not to mention a pension and medical benefits for life if you put in the time. Everything has a price.

    Puckish' story is certainly sad but I don't believe it is typical or that frequent. Thing is, the military will want to put you where they think you'll be most useful. I would think that, if you're a good trumpet player, the boss of the band unit won't be keen on having some other officer use you as cannon fodder. If you show to be consistently smart, hardworking and proactive, you have better chances to run into people who will help you develop.
     
  6. govtmodel

    govtmodel Pianissimo User

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    Navy Music Program, was Re: Military Band

    Being retired from the Navy, I have a tendency to steer folks in that direction. The Navy Personnel Command Music program site is at Navy Music Program default page , so start there.

    The U.S. Navy has 8 fleet bands, 2 premier bands and 1 support unit in the Continental United States, and fleet bands in Hawaii, Italy, and Japan.

    Bands Within the Continental U.S.

    Bands Outside the Continental U.S.

    Support Unit

    School of Music

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    NAVY PERSONNEL COMMAND: 5720 Integrity Drive, Millington TN 38055-0000


    Comments? Suggestions? Call 866-U-ASK-NPC or Email the Webmaster| Updated: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 9:07:11 AM


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  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Let me see if I can shed some clarification on this based on my own experiences, although things have changed quite a bit since I left.

    When I first put my hand up and gave the oath making me active duty Army it was summer of 1989 (this doesn't include my delayed entry - I actually enlisted in October of 1988 during my senior year of HS) we were not engaged in any major deployments and war was the furthest thing from my mind. Then we got involved inthe Persian Gulf when I was at my first assignment (walked in the door at the end of April, 1990) and that changed a lot of things. Many of the people I went to the School of Music who wound up in bands at more combat oriented bases found themselves packing up their instruments and getting deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Keep in mind though that these were active duty bands, not reserve bands and certainly not National Guard bands.

    A friend of mine was in the 101st Air Assault band and he wound up doing REMF duty (if you don't know what a REMF is, look it up - can't post it here.) with an M16/M203 grenade launcher, but it was all stuff in the rear - nothing forward with the main division. Band members just weren't really combat oriented - they weren't trained for it and the Army didn't want them or need them in forward positions. Regarding the idea of band member getting killed by an IED, while I won't say it can't happen, just isn't likely - not even for an active duty band member. Typically bands get deployed for good will missions or at the worst, rear support types of tasks, or at least that's the way it used to be.

    While there is always the "needs of the Army" clause to the contract, the idea that a State National Guard band member is going wind up as an infantry solidier in a forward position is preposterous - again, not saying it can't happen, but it's just not likely.

    Puckish - what was your nephew's MOS/job identifier? What did he enlist to do?

    There are some things to be aware of though. When you enlist in the Army, you are a soldier first, so if you don't cut it as a bandsman, you are going to be doing whatever else the Army needs. I had friends at the School of Music who got cut and wound up being medics, cooks, truck drivers, and in one case, he CHOSE to go infantry. Something else to be aware of is the small print regarding inactive reserve. Regardless of how many years you enlist for - 3, 4, whatever - the Army OWNS you for a total of 8. Even if you get out at the end of your first enlistment, if the Army decides they need people, they reserve the right to send notice that you are coming back in.

    Getting back to the OP's situation, the WV National Guard Band, I would tend to think it highly unlikely that he'd be dealing with roadside IEDs and the like. Possible deployments, yes, but true danger? I doubt it.

    Caleb, you have no experience in uniform - I understand your perspective, but I think it's somewhat flawed in it's conclusions.

    If I was the same 18 year old kid today as I was when I decided to do the military route, I'd still do it, even in the current climate.
     
  8. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Re: Navy Music Program, was Re: Military Band

    Kind of difficult to do Navy band in West Virginia.

    Something else to consider here is that with the 249th NG Band being the ONLY military band in WV, the liklihood that this band will be deployed is almost nil - there is always a need for music at official functions - everything from military ceremonies and reviews, representation of the military at civillian functions like parades, state ceremonies such as gubanatorial inaugurations, police and state police graduation ceremonies, etc. I think that's one of the reasons that the 229th MD Nat Guard band hasn'y been deployed, and there is even an active duty band at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. (The First US Army Band I was a part of was deactivated in 1993 or early 94)

    Question to the OP: would you go to the School of Music, or would you spend a couple of months doing OJT (on the job training) at an active duty band. That's how it used to be, but it may have changed since I got out.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011
  9. erd402

    erd402 Pianissimo User

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    The guy I talked to said he went to the School of Music after basic training. He was a tuba player with the band.

    Just to clarify, this was not some quick decision I made. I've been thinking about this since February.
     
  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Was he ever active duty in the Army band program? I could have said the same thing if you had asked me when I was at the 229th, but I know that when I was in, Reserve and National Guard band members OJTed at various bands. I went to Basic Training with 3 other bandsmen - two of them were going active duty like me, and we went to the school of music, but the other guy did 8 weeks OJT with the band there at Fort Dix where we went to basic before he went back to Wisconsin to the Reserve or Guard band where he wound up serving.

    I know that you aren't making a hasty decision about it - I could tell that from reading your first post. I truly think it's a great opportunity - you'll make friends you'll have the rest of your life (I have a lot of folks from the School of Music on my FB friends list) and you'll do and experience things that the average person won't. I've got a lifetime's worth of stories from my 14 years of experience.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011

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