Trumpet Discussion Discuss Military Bands in the General forums; Hey Manny,
In the next couple of years I'm going to be looking for military bands to audition for and ...
In the next couple of years I'm going to be looking for military bands to audition for and play in for 4 years. I want to do that because of the debt that I will be in after college and the money with basically no payments part of it seems great. I want to hear what you think regarding an aspiring orchestral player playing in a military band first before auditioning for orchestras. Would it be worth it or not? Should one go right into grad school or not?? Your opinion...
I think you'll find a rather long list of professional trumpeters in orchestras that served their country.
I think you'll get rather used to telling people that you served and having them smile and thank you for your service.
I wish I could say the same for myself but G-d had other plans.
SOme things to consider:
1) As I understand it, all but the Marines require some amount of Basic Training if you're accepted. Apparenlty the Marines consider you either a full-time musician or a combatant, not both. I could be wrong here, so check it out.
2) Are you willing to be in service to Uncle Sam and accept all which that entails for the financial rewards? Again, check this out carefully, but I'd want to make sure whether or not there was ever any possibility that you could get sent to active duty (or relocated to whatever areas for whatever reasons). Consider the worst case scenario such a position may present, then ask if you'd be willing to accept that.
If so, then I say go for it. Personally, I am all for it. In fact, if I thougth I honestly had the skill, I'd try out myself. The pay is anywere between 38 and 44K, depending on the branch of service from what I've seen. Not fabulous but not too bad. If I could make that money to play my horn for a living, I'd do it.
And I'd consider it an honor to serve my country in whatever capacity. Just my 2 pennies....
There are 10 kinds of people in the world: Those who understand binary and those who do not.
Here's the deal. If you make it into the premier military bands, you won't have to do anything military, you get E6 pay and you play all the time. However, regardless of your skill level, if there are no open slots, there are no open slots and you just have to wait.
Now, for regular military bands, like I am in, you will most assuredly go through basic training no matter what service you decide upon. The Marines and Army (I'm in the Army) both expect you to do quite a bit of "army stuff" like go to Iraq... etc
The Navy is a great gig, they don't do much else than play. And, contrary from popular belief, Navy bands do not deploy on ships.
Air Force is in my opinion the best gig, but it is also a little higher level of musicianship and they like if you have a degree. If I had to do it again this is where I'd go. No extra military stuff, just music performed at a high level. Hope this helps.
What Jarret posted is right on the money with the exception that I think that the only premier military band that is exempt from basic training or boot camp is "The President's Own - The United States Marine Corps Band". I know for a fact that if you make Pershings Own, the US Army Band, you will go through basic training.
Question: whenever the subject of military bands comes up, someone usually posts about having to do basic training or boot camp, as if it's something to fear. Why is that? It's only 2 months and when it's done, it's done. I did it, Jarrett did it, and Gary Wilder did it as did a plethora of others both before and after we did.
On the subject of getting deployed, your chances of being deployed if you are in one of the Premier DC bands (or the military academy bands) is almost nonexistant. Almost. As for the regular military bands, you chances of getting deployed, especially nowadays, is very high. When I came in, I went through basic and the school of music with another trumpet player from Mars Hill, NC named David Pressley. Upon completion of the SOM, I went to Fort Meade, Maryland, he went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and to 101st Air Assault Band. Within a short time of his arival there, he found himself dealing with the sand of the desert. I was much more fortunate.
One thing that you have to keep in mind when serving Uncle Sam in the military is that once you sign the line and take the oath, you are committed to whatever they ask you to do. Technically, even if you are in a premier band, if at some point Sam "asks" you to grab up a rifle, guess what? You are going to be grabbing up a rifle.
All in all, I think that the Premier Military bands are great places to go. One, you have job security. Two, they are very good musically. Three, the pay and benefits are pretty good. Four, while in DC, you can start politicking with the National Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony. Five, the Baltimore/DC area is a great area to freelance on the side.
I was in one of the "Premier" bands with the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps so I had the rank, but the music was a little on the dull side. If I had thought that I would have been good enough to make Pershing's Own, I would have tried, and if I had, I would probably still be active duty military.
"What we do in life echoes in eternity"
"At my signal, unleash hell."
- Maximus Decimus Meridius
Really? So you mean to tell me that screamin female trumpet player in the Blues had to go through basic? That's crazy. Oh well, like he said, It's not a big deal, it just sucks while your there. Just like Iraq :)
military bands and basic
Yes, Liesl Whitaker went through Basic Training. So did I, Tom Williams (if you haven't heard him play, you're missing out), and all of the guys in the Airmen of Note and the Commodores (not Lionel Ritchie, the Navy's jazz band).
Remember this about the premier bands. They hold open auditions for their spots. What this means for those joining the military to be musicians is that you will not be assigned to a premier band. You may audition for one when there is an opening.
If you join the military to be a musician, you go through Basic Training, then to your AIT (Advanced Individual Training, which is the Navy School of Music). Following your completion of the School of Music, you may or may not have a say in your first assignment. Then you are assigned to a band somewhere in the world for a specified length of time. As TrickG noted, duties at specific assignments vary widely.
Lastly, when speaking with recruiters on these subjects, be very careful to double check that what they are telling you is completely accurate. If they promise you a certain assignment after Basic, get it in writing from the Commanding Officer at the aforementioned assignment, or it's an empty promise.
I spent 4 years playing Lead Trumpet with the US Army Field Band's Jazz Ambassadors. Although it wasn't someplace that I wanted to make a career, I did literally travel the world. Europe (including performances at the Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals), India (76 performances in 33 days!), and of course, all over the United States.
Jeez, Guess ya learn something new everyday! You guys didn't have AIT though did you? That would be ridiculous if they sent you to that joke of a school. Well, thanks for sharing your experiences.
No, the premier bandsmen do not have an AIT. They report directly to their duty station, which is guaranteed before they've even signed up.
I guess I wasn't clear with my initial post. The Army has different names for everything. If you're going to be an Army musician, the classification used to be '02L', which stood for 'Bandsperson'. If you're coming into a premier band, the classification was '02S', which stands for 'Special Bandsperson'.
This was particularly fun on my first full day of Basic Training, when I was asked by a drill sargeant what my classification was. He was looking directly at my folder, but was not familiar with '02S' as there are not very many of them in the Army. When he asked me what '02S' is, and I answered 'Special Bandsperson'. Which, of course, prompted the table full of drill sargeants to jump in with, "Oh, you think you're special!?"
Loads of fun,
I'd like to restate a couple things. Army, Marines and Navy go to the School of Music after basic training for AIT. Only the USAF does there band program different.
Basic training, AIT and SOM are a flea on and Elaphant's butt when it comes to the amount of time spent compared to the playing possibilities.
If you are in an Army band, you will be required to to be proficient at what is refered to as soldiers common tasks (Army Kill Shit) as we called it.
If you are concerned about deployment and being handed a rifle, check out the National Guard bands. You get paid, you mostly play, it's only 2 days a month and 15 days in the summer. Some states have proagrams that pay off some of your school loans. But really check out the units. I was in the 132d Army Band Wisconsin National Guard. Our CO was Dr. William Richardson, Professor of tromobone at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Musically and militarily he did not tolerate poor perfromance. No one penciled through when it came to PT or weight. Every one legitimately passed. He booted folks that didn't.
On the other side of the coin, I've heard of some National Guard bands that play nothing but Country and Western music. When an oboe player joined the group, they wanted to make her the conductor because any one who played oboe had to know music. The oboe play transfered from our band and I won't say what band she transfered into.
Keith E Miland
Flugel - Wild Thing/FO5
Trumpet - Bach 37/Curry 5TF
Cornet - 1897 Conn Wonder Solo
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