Military Bands

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by SpiritDCI08, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. SpiritDCI08

    SpiritDCI08 Piano User

    Feb 11, 2009
    Fort Campbell, KY
    So after great thought.... trust me I spent many sleepless nights. I think it would be a good idea for me to join a military band before college. My grades are poor :-( because I spent most of my freshman and sophmore years screwing around instead of studying. My plan was to join and use tuition assistance to take online classes to raise my GPA so when my enlistment term is over I can attend an university.
    I really want to make a military band but I feel like my musical skills are not yet developed enough to pass the auditions (I've recieved the requirements already.) I really need advice, both from good musicians and past and current military trumpet players. I really don't want a fancy band (i.e. Presidents Own or such) but it would be nice.
    Please help
  2. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    Tough decision, but kudos to you for taking a realistic look at your options and making plans for the future. Screwing around instead of studying was stupid, but taking charge of the situation and doing something about it is the smart thing to do.

    I get that you want to be in a military band, but remember that when you join the military, you're becoming a soldier. Unless you have some kind of signed agreement when you enlist, you're taking a chance that you're not going to play at all and end up being a grunt (which isn't a bad thing in the grand scheme, but recruiters will say almost anything to get you to sign). Given what you've said about you're current skill level it's likely that joining the military will put your music career on hold for a while.

    I think enlisting in the service is a great way for someone to get tuition money, tons of life experience, and a renewed focus on where to go in life.

    Good luck.
  3. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    Nov 2, 2003
    Taking online classes will not change your high school GPA, and you might have a hard time taking/doing well in classes depending on branch of service etc....certain bands will pretty much take any warm body. Also, after 4 years in the real world or military many colleges will over look high school GPA and SAT in favor of a placement test, but you could probably get into one of those colleges anyway....might be better to start at a community college and work your way up. All depends.

    I think you should get more info and posting here is a good start, a lot of people your age try to map out everything( I know I did), and sometimes what you are basing your decision on( or the next step) isn't something that will really happen the way you think it will happen and that throws off all your plans.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2009
  4. jcstites

    jcstites Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 1, 2005
    Tallahassee, FL
    You can go to college with a average GPA. Trust me...I am getting my doctorate right now and my grades were never amazing. At least apply and see what your options are.
  5. Ed Kennedy

    Ed Kennedy Forte User

    Nov 18, 2006
    Two things: unless things have changed drastically, you should audition for a band and get a written guarantee that you will be in the music program. You can arrange this through a recruiter, but DO NOT enlist until you have that guarantee. You are fortunately located, there are quite a few bands in the Virginia - DC area plus the Armed Forces School of Music in Little Creek (was the Navy School back the day). If you don't pass the audition, get yourself a day gig and a good trumpet teacher, practice your a** off and audition again later.

    Alternatively, some community colleges have pretty good music programs. In Florida they have recently been strengthened by a 3.2GPA minimum for admission to the university system. A lot of good players, lacking in GPA, have turned to community colleges.
  6. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005

    This happened to a friend of mine. A very good euphonium player, and I don't he's ever played again. Be VERY certain before you sign anything. Most military bands are filled with very good players with music degress and experience. If they say they'll just drop you into one of those sceptical.

    Some state schools will pretty much take anyone who can manage to graduate from high school, you might be on probation for a semester or two, but I bet if you look around, you can probably get in somewhere. Failing that, community college is a good way to establish grades to transfer to a four year school.
  7. flugelgirl

    flugelgirl Forte User

    Jan 20, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    I'm a Navy Musician - been playing in fleet bands for 13 yrs, and really enjoy my job. I joined because I couldn't afford to finish college, and it was one of the best decisions I've made. That being said, this gig isn't for everyone! We get some very good players with degrees that need a job - some stay and do very well, and some do nothing but complain. We also get some very average players who manage to get in and get through the School of Music, and become a detriment to their bands because they are barely capable of sitting in a section. We try to screen our auditions carefully because while your enlistment contract will guarantee you'll go to the School of Music after boot camp (upon passing an audition and being accepted into the music program), if you are not able pass through the school you will be doing some other job in the Navy. A good candidate for an audition will have had some private lessons and an understanding of music theory. An ideal candidate will have had at least some college, years of private study, and real world gig experience.
    If you aren't currently taking private lessons, I would suggest you find a good teacher and start studying. Private study and a consistant practice regimen are the best tools to get you where you want to go, whether that turns out to be school or a military band.
  8. Ed Kennedy

    Ed Kennedy Forte User

    Nov 18, 2006

    What you said.

    ex SP4 Kennedy
  9. ButchA

    ButchA Pianissimo User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Richmond, Virginia

    I'm retired US Coast Guard (Yeoman First Class E-6). Back when I enlisted (1979), I had dreams of playing in the USCG Academy Band in New London, CT.

    I originally played trumpet in the USCG Training Center (bootcamp) band in Cape May, NJ. The company commander (Drill Instructor) knew of my goal and helped me submit a taped audition of myself as a "brass multi-instrumentalist" (trumpet, french horn, euphonium). From what I remember, if they liked the tape, they'd schedule me to fly up to New London and audition again in person. Anyway, as you can guess, they sort of liked my playing, but if I remember, they said something along the lines of "you are a multi-talented individual. However, your musical skills do not meet our guidelines..." :-(

    Long story short... What I learned is that you have to be GOOD to be in a real military band! I'm talking like, all-county, all-state, 1st chair, etc... I remember a guy back when I was in bootcamp (who already had auditioned on euphonium) and had already graduated bootcamp (he was an E-2) and was just awaiting orders to report to New London, CT. This guy blew my socks off on euphonium so bad, he made me just want to quit and give up! That's what I'm talking about, everyone... You gotta be THAT GOOD to make it in a military band!

    Put it another way... The people in military bands, are true professionals. They are so good and so talented, they could actually leave the military band, and join right up with a philharmonic orchestra! :thumbsup:
  10. flugelgirl

    flugelgirl Forte User

    Jan 20, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Butch, you are partially correct - you do need skill to work in a military band. However, there are different degrees of skill required depending on which band you audition for. The Coast Guard band is on the level of the other services premier bands - bands like the Navy's Washington DC and Annapolis bands, the Army Blues, or the Air Force Band of the Rockies - because the Coast Guard only has one band. I auditioned for that band - scariest audition I've ever done, and obviously I wasn't chosen! The President's Own is another level above THAT - you have to be the BEST of the best to make it in! The Navy Fleet bands are much more competative then they used to be - primarily because there are more and more highly educated musicians out there in need of a gig, and Navy runs less, marches less, and are not trained for anything except music (after boot camp, of course). Marine fleet bandsmen are soldiers first, musicians second, and really appeals most to those who really want to be a Marine. The majority of Marines join at 18yrs old, while Navy bandsmen tend to join at age 25-35. Army is somewhere in between in these respects - they get a wide variety of ages and skill levels because of their stellar college loan repayment. Air Force bands are a step above the Navy - they don't march or play ceremonies. No offense meant to those of you in other services - just trying to paint a realistic picture. Please chime in to give a better description of what you do!
    Anyhow, my point is that yes, it is competative, and there are some really great musicians in military bands, but skill level varies depending on the quality of the group, and so do the audition requirements. Research your options when auditioning - it's important to choose the service that fits you best.

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