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Trumpet Discussion Discuss military bands question. in the General forums; So, I've been thinking about what I'm going to do after I'm done with college, and I've come across a ...
  1. #1
    Pianissimo User
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    Oct 2010
    East Lansing, MI

    military bands question.

    So, I've been thinking about what I'm going to do after I'm done with college, and I've come across a lot of stuff about the military bands. (By the way - I'm a trumpet performance major at Michigan State, and I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for grad school or if I'm going to do it at all.) So, basically, I've been reading a lot of stuff and I'm getting confused. What are the chances of getting deployed If I audition and get a part in a military band? What exactly are the "Premier Bands", how are they different? What are my chance of being deployed in one of them?

  2. #2
    Pianissimo User tomcat's Avatar
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    Dec 2007

    Re: military bands question.

    Although I am not in the military, I am pretty sure that you will not be deployed. The bands is the very very very last thing they call on to be deployed. I don't think the bands were even deployed in Vietnam.
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  3. #3
    Pianissimo User govtmodel's Avatar
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    Re: military bands question.

    Quote Originally Posted by ColinWhite View Post
    What exactly are the "Premier Bands", how are they different?
    For the U.S. Navy Band and the Naval Academy Band, the difference is they are non-rotating duty, which means once you're in, you stay there as long as you're in the Navy.

    In the other bands you'll move from band to band periodically.

    Quote Originally Posted by ColinWhite View Post
    What are my chance of being deployed in one of them?
    Approximately 0.
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  4. #4
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    Re: military bands question.

    The "Premier Bands" are:

    Army- The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own", United States Army Field Band, United States Military Academy Band, Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.

    Navy- The United States Navy Band, The United States Naval Academy Band

    Air Force- The United States Air Force Band, The United States Air Force Academy Band

    Marines- The United States Marine Band "The President's Own"

    Coast Guard- The United States Coast Guard Band

    Most of these are stationed in the Washington DC area. The academy bands, the Coast Guard Band (stationed at the Coast Guard academy in New London, Conn.), and the Army Field Band (Fort Meade, MD- about half way between DC and Baltimore) aren't.

    All of these bands hold their own auditions (you don't audition for a recruiter). Usually the auditions are quite competitive (for example, a number of Chicago Symphony guys formerly played in the Marine Band). Some bands use pre-screening tapes and will pay for your trip, others are cattle call auditions. The Army is the only service that I'm aware of using tapes and paying for your trip. I believe Pershing's Own has moved to a cattle call though.

    The Marine Band and the Coast Guard Band have no basic training requirement. All the rest do, but don't let that discourage you. Basic training is essentially Boy Scout camp with more guns and yelling.

    These groups are all permanent jobs- you can spend your whole 20+ years there; you won't be moved to Korea in 4 years. The military is the military though and there were some rumors a while back about the Air Force Academy Band possibly losing this status. I'm not sure what ever happened there.

    The playing standard is universally quite high, but the musical satisfaction can vary depending on the gig. Some of the ceremonial jobs involve lots of standing in place in heavy uniforms in the heat of summer only to play a few marches or a few bugle calls. The hours and steady (leaving this past week aside) paycheck are good though.

    These groups all have a starting pay grade of E6 once you arrive at the band. With housing allowance (tax free!) and basic pay, that works out to around $50k/year for the DC area groups. The health care is free, but you have to use the sometimes questionable military health care system/facilities.

    To my knowledge, none of these groups has ever deployed except in a USO tour capacity. Some of the bands might require you to take on some other clerical side job to help the band function, but these commitments are usually minimal. Being in the military, in extreme situations such as 9/11, all bets are off as to what you might have to do.

    As good as these gigs sound, don't forget that you would still be in the military and there's a certain amount of freedom you lose when you sign up.

    As to the rest of the bands, if your parent unit is deployed, you can be deployed and asked to serve in another capacity. I have friends who served in Iraq as bandsmen. You probably won't be clearing houses unless you volunteer, but you likely won't just be playing trumpet.

  5. #5
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    Nov 2009
    Near Portland, OR.

    Re: military bands question.

    "US Military Academy Band", is that West Point?

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  6. #6
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    East Lansing, MI

    Re: military bands question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil986 View Post
    "US Military Academy Band", is that West Point?
    Yeah, West Point's actual (full) name is "United States Military Academy at West Point"

  7. #7
    Fortissimo User SteveRicks's Avatar
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    Aug 2009

    Re: military bands question.

    Just a thought here- as the posts above indicate, the premiere military bands have quite high standards. One group -Airmen of Note -is a fabulous jazz big band -sort of a continuation of the GLen Miller Airforce band. The guys can hold their own with about any pro big band. I always try and go see them during Christmas season. Have always thought that, other than the loss of freedom that is involved with military service, serving in a band like Airmen of Note must be a blast. I imagine they rehearse pretty much every day they are not performing and stay togethere 365 a year. What other pro band dones that? Very, very few. Looking back at some of the (now gone) big bands -Kenton, Maynard, Buddy Rich, Woody -they really weren't 365 days a year bands. Most would be part of a year. When you are playing together as much as some of the military groups do, that has to translate into some surperb music.
    Again -this is what I believe to be true. Would love to hear thoughts from some in these positions.

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  8. #8
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    Re: military bands question.

    Saw the "Airmen of Note" in Cleveland, TN a few weeks ago. Outstanding program! There isn't much turn-over in that fine organization or any of the other service bands based in DC.

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