Specific Military Band Questions

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by AaronPlaysTrumpet, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. AaronPlaysTrumpet

    AaronPlaysTrumpet New Friend

    Jul 7, 2011
    Fellow musicians,

    I respectfully ask that you refrain from bickering on my thread. For my own personal reasons, I have decided that I would like to pursue the option of military music after college graduation (among other career options). I am not here to debate the motivations or realities surrounding the job. I am simply asking for information from those who know more than I do - which is what I thought was the point of this website.

    I will reiterate again: Can anyone shed some light on the audition process? And I'm referring to a trumpet audition, not a conductor's. I would just like to find a way to get a little conducting experience while in the military, and if anyone knows if that is possible to do, please let me know.

    Thank you for your courtesy.
  2. harveyhassanator

    harveyhassanator Pianissimo User

    Sep 5, 2010
    I just joined up in the British army and my father and god father did it before me. Some top players all over the world took up a position in a military band and used it as a stepping stone. The principle in the BBC Jazz orchestra used his 4years in the army as a chance to practice and get paid. what more could you want? I dont know what the chances are of getting sent to war with you guys but here its next to nothing unless you choose to.

    Aaron, for my audition here in the uk, they ask for atleast grade 6 scales, sight reading, grade 5theory and aural and 2 contrasting pieces of a grade higher than 6 (they ask for 7 or 8). They look for the ability to be grade 8 in less than year at the collage. as for the army side of things, we have the same as any other soldier.

    Hope this helps you in some way and sorry if it doesn't!

    Good luck! Harvey
  3. mgcoleman

    mgcoleman Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 22, 2010
    I did 21 years in the Marine Corps (several years as a machinegunner and the rest in communications). No time as a musician, so no insight on auditioning. I will tell you that you would be regularly "reminded" that every Marine is a rifleman first, then whatever your military occupational specialty (MOS). USMC bands, including the President's Own at the Marine Barracks at 8th & I have an institutionally defined combat role, usually as provisional rifle units, and they do train to that expectation.

    You might want to reach out to the local recruiting office to get your answer on auditions. Yes, the recruiters will try to work their angles and talk to you about other opportunities, etc. You can dampen the sales pitch and pressure a bit by being very direct and focused with your question(s). There's nothing wrong with telling a recruiter to get back on YOUR topic...they are used to hearing "no" and it won't hurt their feelings. They have quotas and they are always working to push bodies into fields with staffing shortfalls. Ignore all that and stick to your guns (pun intended). Avoid giving them your contact info...they are a pesky bunch and you can count on follow-up phone calls (nothing personal...it's their job).
  4. flugelgirl

    flugelgirl Forte User

    Jan 20, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Aaron, you'll find requirements for Navy auditions here : Job Opportunities

    Our band officers do come from enlisted ranks as LDO - you must be at least E6 between 8-16yrs of active duty service. We no longer have Warrant Officers, so that doesn't apply. There are opportunities to conduct as an enlisted member - the majority of our daily ceremonies are taken out by E6 and E7. E7 and above are no longer classified as players and act more as management, spending most of their time in desk positions or conducting. Band officers usually enjoy featuring some enlisted conductors on some of the wind ensemble programs for a chart or two. I hope this answers your questions - pm me for anything specific.
    For those of you who like to bicker about military music not being a real gig, you're wrong. The ratio of good music to bad is no different than in the civilian world. The difference is that you get paid salary, great medical benefits, get to play in some locations others don't, and on top of that get to do as much freelance on the outside as you can fit in. While it's not the perfect gig, few usually are, and I don't feel bad about making a living this way. I'd feel a lot worse if I had to make sandwiches or work retail as a day job - this way my day job is with a horn on my face, and I can feel pretty good about that. If you have a problem with the way I make my living keep it to yourself - I don't bash your day job!
  5. catello

    catello Pianissimo User

    Dec 14, 2009
    Winter Park, FL
    I have the privilege of playing with several retired military band musicians – mostly Navy band – in local volunteer groups. All are incredible players. They had to be great to get into the units, and then by the time they got out were all monsters on their instruments. Plus I have rarely met more interesting, generous and honorable people. If you are lucky enough to serve and perform at the same time: congratulations and thank you!
  6. BustedChops

    BustedChops Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 1, 2011
    Thanks for Chiming in Mgcole...It's important to know that joining any branch of the service is first and foremost not about music...They want folks to get the job done whatever that maybe.

    Of course military music is a real gig flugelgirl...Nobody is disputing that. It's just that if you want to study and play music using the military may not be the best option. What few opportunities exist in this world for artists is far fewer in the military.

    It's best to think about signing the dotted line before jumping right in. You might be the finest horn player the military has to offer but if you sign that dotted line your rank will dictate everything you can and can't do.

    Do you want to be horn player?
  7. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

    May 14, 2011
    Hawaian homey
    D.C. Al fine "Here is another thought, maybe if you give some more respect to other members you will get a little back in return."
    chenzo: "Touchy touchy"
    If either of you can PM me references to posts you consider rude that I have initiated, as contrasted with responding to a post that was first rude itself, I will be the first to apologise. Truly. To the best of my knowledge, I usually am only responding in kind. I'm easy to get along with. Leave me alone, I leave you alone.

    @Aaron, there's a ton of information on the following thread. You should take a look at it: http://www.trumpetmaster.com/vb/f133/military-service-jazz-bands-65971.html

    There is additional information here that might also help you: http://www.trumpetmaster.com/vb/f131/life-military-musician-67001.html

    and here's a page with other listings of the same topic: http://www.trumpetmaster.com/vb/search.php?searchid=191669&pp=&page=6

    The best thing to do, if you want to enlist in a military band, is to contact a band, itself and ask for audition information. Usually the band will have specific audition information. Also you will have to qualify generally, for entry into that particular branch of service. I believe a lot of this is already spelled out in the link I gave above.

    Go to each service's band web site and see if you can get general information through that, also. Keep in mind that the DC bands and the "field" or "fleet" bands are different and audition requirements differ.

    Standards have continued to rise over the years. For example, the Air Force categorises their musician skill levels as 3-level, 5-level and 7-level. In the past, one entered as a 3-level and shortly afterwards tested for the 5 level. 7-level often came on the second enlistment. In recent years, although a person might actually be entered as a 5-level, because standards have become so high, they were actually auditioned at a 7 skill level. I believe that the Navy had also had such a transformation.

    This is why it's so important to not only read what's posted on the internet sites, but to also call a band, itself, and talk specifically to whoever will actually be giving the audition for specific pieces that you would be required to play. And a caution: if they say, "the Haydn" they don't just mean that you can muscle your way through it. They mean that you can play it.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
  8. mrsemman

    mrsemman Piano User

    Apr 8, 2010
    As a former Army Recruiter, I can remember only one time that I had a potential recruit audition for an Army Band. He was a guitar player. At the time, I did not know what they were looking for, and while the player was remarkable ear player, he could not read music. The Warrant Officer conducting the audition spent over an hour working with the recruit. In the end, they parted ways. I do know that sight reading plays a very important part as they may only have a few minutes to review the music prior to playing.

    A local recruiter can set up the audition and will get all the information you need to be prepared. At the time I recruited, I know that the audition determined the rank you would start off at. A musician, such as yourself, could possibly find themselves entering the Army as an E-6 (staff sergeant). I believe that all military bands of all the services take their musical training at Norfolk, VA. Where they are posted is dependent upon openings.
  9. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

    May 14, 2011
    Hawaian homey
    The Sea Services and the Army do. The Air Force goes direct-duty to their respective band assignments.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
  10. chenzo

    chenzo Piano User

    Jul 18, 2008
    If I have insulted anyone I apologise.......That was not my intention
    But I have had a few friends that had joined the armed services (musicians)and have found that it wasn't for them, but some have made a career out of it.
    My previous post was really tongue in cheek stuff and was not meant to be an insult. But I would like to know if that Chinese whisper has any truth about it.

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