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I have recently decided that I want to be a part of one of the navy bands. I have been talking with one of the bands and will be auditioning in about a month or two. I just have a few questions to ask for those of you that may know the answers.

They said I need to prepare a solo (classical), play major & all minor scales, sight read various styles, and if I play jazz, prepare a jazz solo (i'm guessing like a transcription). If I remember correctly, sight reading = 50%, solo = 40%, scales = 10%.

This is something I really want to do and don't want to mess up my audition. I read somewhere that only about 5% of people that audition make it to the school of music. The problem is, I don't know if the people auditioning are mainly people out of high school or top music school grads or whatever. From the way they were talking it didn't sound too bad. They asked if I was a good sight reader...check. They asked if I'd ever been payed to play....check. Then they asked a little about my musical background. They seemed really interested and really want me to come audition, they may tell everyone that though..lol. I asked the officer in charge of the auditions to give me an idea of what kind of solo they were looking to hear and he said he'd only been in charge of auditions for the past 2 months and didn't really know because he hadn't auditioned any saxes yet.

For those of you that are in the navy or military or those of you that know anything about the caliber of sax players:

What would be a good audition piece? Would the Creston be okay or do I need to pull out something like the Ibert or something even harder? I haven't played classical in about 3 years because I have been working very hard on not playing with sheet music (jazz, blues, rock). I pulled the creston out yesterday and luckily it's like riding a bike. I want to get in as soon as possible and don't want to spend 6 months getting ready for this audition. I will if I have to but, if half the sax players auditioning are struggling with something like the Creston, then I don't want to waste time working up something harder when I don't really need to. OTOH, I don't want to play the Creston and not make it because everyone else is playing something like the Ibert. I just want to get in as soon as possible.

Also he mentioned for sight reading knowing my excerpts. I have no Idea what he was talking about. Anyone have a clue? What difficulty is the sight reading? Are we talking Thad Jones or just middle of the road swing?

Any info on the audition process or what it takes to be a navy musician would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Ben
 

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I think 'excerpts' means bits from opera. My daughters band director told me it might be a good idea to study these if I ever got the urge to audition for any of the local orchestras/symphonies.
You can get books of 'excerpts through JW Pepper and Sheet Music Plus.
 

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I don't know the answers to any of your specific questions, but if you get in and have any questions about Navy life, let me know. I'm a Navy veteran, but I was not a naval musician.

To start, one of the most important thing to remember is that there is the right way, the wrong way, and the Navy way.

GO NAVY!!!
 

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They said I need to prepare a solo (classical), play major & all minor scales, sight read various styles, and if I play jazz, prepare a jazz solo (i'm guessing like a transcription). If I remember correctly, sight reading = 50%, solo = 40%, scales = 10%.
You can play a transcription or you can improvise with an Aebersold. Your choice.

This is something I really want to do and don't want to mess up my audition. I read somewhere that only about 5% of people that audition make it to the school of music. The problem is, I don't know if the people auditioning are mainly people out of high school or top music school grads or whatever.
In FY 2010, 170 people auditioned and 80 were accepted. 16 saxophonists auditioned and 10 were accepted. There used to be a doubling requirement for woodwinds but they dropped it and that help raise the acceptance rate. In FY 2009, when they required doubling, only 2 out of 7 saxophonist who auditioned were accepted but the overall acceptance rate was still 45%.

They should be publishing the FY 2011 numbers next month in the newsletter for the Navy Band Program, "Program Notes".

Most Navy musicians do have college degrees or have had some college before entering. But there are exceptions. Musicians straight out of high school get accepted and college grads get rejected. But in general, the Navy sets their sights on people who are at least at a college junior/senior, if not higher, level.

I asked the officer in charge of the auditions to give me an idea of what kind of solo they were looking to hear and he said he'd only been in charge of auditions for the past 2 months and didn't really know because he hadn't auditioned any saxes yet.
It depends on the band and who's doing the auditioning. Typically, the difficulty of the solo should be hard, something that's the hardest (or next hardest if your state divides solos in to 5 or 6 grades) grade. Something you'd be expected to use as audition material for all-state. The Creston Sonata, Concertino da Camera, Glazunov Concerto, Scaramouche, etc. Not necessarily the whole thing, but one of the technical movements and then the lyrical one. That said, a friend of mine just played Charlie Parker's Solo on Chi Chi and that was it.

For those of you that are in the navy or military or those of you that know anything about the caliber of sax players:

What would be a good audition piece? Would the Creston be okay or do I need to pull out something like the Ibert or something even harder?
Creston should be fine.

Also he mentioned for sight reading knowing my excerpts. I have no Idea what he was talking about. Anyone have a clue? What difficulty is the sight reading? Are we talking Thad Jones or just middle of the road swing?
I'd expect the sight reading to be more marches and concert band material. It depends on the band. Some are more jazz oriented than others. You might read some horn band charts and jazz charts but you may not. Regardless, I'd expect a more middle of the road piece but they might surprise you.

Typically, "excerpts" means bits and pieces from the standard repertoire and orchestral pieces. The saxophone, as a somewhat bastard classical instrument, really doesn't have to deal with this. I look at the packets for the premier military bands and they always list excerpts like these for other instruments but never for saxophone. So unless they send you a list of excerpts they want to hear, I wouldn't worry about it. It could just be this audition coordinator's inexperience that made him bring it up.

You're kind of in between two bands. Are you auditioning at Memphis or Jacksonville? I think the Memphis band has downsized their jazz band a bit and the one in Jacksonville does a lot of salsa music so they might spring some of that on you.

You might want to look at this.

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showth...t-Military-Bands&p=45442&viewfull=1#post45442

He oversells it a bit with that 5% thing but there's some good info in there.

He's not around here much anymore but I think Steve recently retired (or is about to) after 20 years in the service. He posted his e-mail. I don't know if it's still good but you can try it.
 

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Whatever you play, make sure your are "yes sir, no sir" regardless of who you are with. Shined shoes, good shave, short hair, respect. I grew up around the DC military (my father was a Lt. Col. Army). Great place to work, benefits, security, retirement, medical. These days you are up against college grads who can't find symphony work.
I would find some recordings of the Navy band, work up some things they have done, Clear articulation, attention to dynamics and don't make excuses.
Where is the audition? Norfolk, DC?
 

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Good music suggestions above...I would try to talk to the music contacts (band leaders, instructors, current saxophonists) in the Navy, rather than recruiters. The military recruiters I've talked to have generally been less knowledgable about music careers than other careers in the service.
 

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Have you seen this yet: http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?101755-Armed-Forces-Bands

If you don't make it into a top band, but make it into a lower band in the Army and the Marines you WILL see combat. Marines in particular are Riflemen first, I had a friend in college who was a music preformance major who got into a Marine Band, then suffered severe nerve damage while in basic. She is now a veteran and on her way to loosing both of her dreams. Being a Marine and playing the Clarinet. The Severe nerve damage makes playing extreamly difficult, and sometimes impossible. ... I have another friend who is in a Marine band who just got done serving a tour in Iraq either last year or the year before that. The Army is easily the worst defender on taking people who didn't sign on as Combat and making them break down doors. If you are looking for more info look at the Air Force thread I started awhile ago. The mission and not your life is top priority.
 

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These days you are up against college grads who can't find symphony work.
I would find some recordings of the Navy band, work up some things they have done, Clear articulation, attention to dynamics and don't make excuses.
Where is the audition? Norfolk, DC?
I don't think he's auditioning for a DC band but rather the Navy Music Program which is made up of 8 bands in the continental US and 3 bands overseas.

The Army and Marine bands do and have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. And they are more "soldier/marine first, musician second" than the other branches. But that's not the case for the Navy and the Air Force.
 

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Thanks for all of the good info. I like those numbers a lot better Agent27...lol. I will probably stick with the Creston then.

I found an audition packet online for saxophone from about a year ago for one of the premier navy bands. It has bozza improvisation et caprice and a bunch of different excerpts. I will just learn those.

I will be auditioning in in Millington, Tn, which is right outside of Memphis. I'm not auditioning for one of the premier bands, didn't see any openings. I would like to eventually be in one of the premier navy bands but it looks like they mainly stay in the D.C. area. I kinda would like to travel a little bit first.

A few more questions:

Since I will be auditioning in Millington, if I pass the audition, is that where I'll be sent after boot and A school or will they send me where they need me after A school?

I have lived in the South my whole life and would kinda like to see other parts of the country/world. How do you go about getting stationed in the different bands?

Does anyone know if the navy issues horns? I know the military is about uniformity. I play on a black laquered yamaha z alto. I haven't seen anyone playing on anything but gold laquered horns. I honestly don't care what color the horn is as long as it plays well. A friend of mine in the Army was issued a family of Super Action 80 series II horns. Is the navy strict on the brand horn, mouthpiece, etc?

Thanks again,

Ben
 

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I auditioned at Millington in 1981 after completing two semesters of college. I was accepted and spent 6 years in a US Navy band and spent a great deal of time traveling overseas, in D.C. and San Diego. You will go to boot camp no way to get around that but when I went to Great Lakes aka Great Mistakes they have a great marching band that played jazz, and I got out of all the drilling and regular marching.

Color of the horn does not matter. You will be issued a horn once you get in one of the top bands if there is an opening.

Good luck.

B
 

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Thanks for all of the good info. I like those numbers a lot better Agent27...lol. I will probably stick with the Creston then.

I found an audition packet online for saxophone from about a year ago for one of the premier navy bands. It has bozza improvisation et caprice and a bunch of different excerpts. I will just learn those.
You can do it if you want but I don't think you need to.

I will be auditioning in in Millington, Tn, which is right outside of Memphis. I'm not auditioning for one of the premier bands, didn't see any openings. I would like to eventually be in one of the premier navy bands but it looks like they mainly stay in the D.C. area. I kinda would like to travel a little bit first.
All the DC and Academy bands for all branches are damned good and incredibly hard to get into. The Naval Academy band actually has 2 saxophone openings right now.

A few more questions:

Since I will be auditioning in Millington, if I pass the audition, is that where I'll be sent after boot and A school or will they send me where they need me after A school?
No. Well, maybe. When you're in "A" school, you'll fill out a "dream sheet". This is a list of the 3 bands you'd most like to be sent to. If their personnel needs line up with your desires, then they may try to grant your wish of being sent to one of those bands. But ultimately it's their decision and they'll send you where they want you. If/when you reenlist, you can request to be transferred to a particular band and you're more likely to get what you want then. I have a friend who was sent to Memphis after graduating "A" school. It wasn't one of his top 3 choices but he was able to call dibs when a spot opened up at the band in Naples, Italy. So that's where he is now.

I have lived in the South my whole life and would kinda like to see other parts of the country/world. How do you go about getting stationed in the different bands?
As far as I can tell, you're generally stuck with a band for the duration of your current enlistment period. When you reenlist for another 2 or 3 years, then you get the option of changing duty stations if you wish. Still, the Navy does what's in its best interests so you may be reassigned if you don't want and you may also be kept in the same place if you'd rather move on. You can make a request but it's really up to them.

Does anyone know if the navy issues horns? I know the military is about uniformity. I play on a black laquered yamaha z alto. I haven't seen anyone playing on anything but gold laquered horns. I honestly don't care what color the horn is as long as it plays well. A friend of mine in the Army was issued a family of Super Action 80 series II horns. Is the navy strict on the brand horn, mouthpiece, etc?
The Navy does have a supply of horns. I know that in the past couple of years they've purchased some Selmer Reference 54 altos and tenors, Yamaha Custom 82Z tenors, and some Selmer Series III baris. So good horns. I'm told that you're allowed to use your personal horn if you wish, but the Navy won't pay for it to be repaired and maintained like the do with Navy owned instruments. I haven't seen any non-brass colored horns in the Navy. I have seen some black nickel Keilwerth's and silver plated horns in the Air Force. It's probably up to the band director. You can always try to use your horn but if the directer says no, then that's it.

You should be free to use whatever mouthpiece setup you want, just so long as you're not using a Dukoff on a classical concert band concert. :mrgreen:
 

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@ Saxmusicguy, I would hope that you aren't trying to tell him to not go for his dream because you may not agree. Also, I guarantee you this, someone coming out of the military regardless of branch is a more than likely a better person because of their time. Also I know a lot of people who entered the millitary only two couldn't handle it. 1 was the marine recruit who got hurt, and the other the person who should of been an airman but got kicked out on a medical right before he graduated basic.
Also, talk to Andrew he is currently in a Navy band and is a member here. He will be able to give you the best information that is the most up to date.

Don't worry bout gear, get the stuff you need worked up worked up. Present a professional image, thats what the military is about when it comes to dress. Is a professional image, so shave the day of. Do a double shave (or the bootcamp shave) to make sure their is not any hair on your face. Get a hair cut before you go, wear appoprate clothing. If you get accepted get into shape, if you aren't already.
 

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I retire from the Navy Band in 2010. Everything Agent 27 said is right. Navy band is a great experience. Go for it!
 

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@ Saxmusicguy, I would hope that you aren't trying to tell him to not go for his dream because you may not agree.
No, certainly not. I just wanted to make him aware. Sounds like it's not an issue though:

The Army and Marine bands do and have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. And they are more "soldier/marine first, musician second" than the other branches. But that's not the case for the Navy and the Air Force.
 

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Different to others, consider the change of your current lifestyle if you were to get into a Navy band. What would it be like, and is it really something you would change? Also ask, why go to the defence force for music when there are other options in the civilian world?
 

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For those of you who were musicians in the navy...

What is day to day life like as a musician in the navy?? What is a typical day/week like?
 

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Different to others, consider the change of your current lifestyle if you were to get into a Navy band. What would it be like, and is it really something you would change? Also ask, why go to the defence force for music when there are other options in the civilian world?
There aren't many gigs in the civilian world where you get a guaranteed paycheck, pay raises, free health care, college loan repayment, tuition assistance, and other education benefits just for playing music.

I've been playing professionally for 5 years now. I'm one of the few full time pros I know who has health insurance. It's a struggle, especially if you have an aversion to teaching. I intended to go into the Navy right out of college but I was disqualified because I was on some medication they didn't like. I have friends who are in the Navy telling me that I should still join and now that I'm sure there's nothing to disqualify me, I'll probably go audition myself pretty soon. It's a good gig that provides a level of security that's really hard to come by in the real world and you're still free to freelance on the side.

PS - I sent a link to this thread to a friend of mine who's in the Naval Forces Europe Band in Naples, Italy. He might be in Africa right now, I'm not sure, but hopefully he'll chime in when he gets the chance.
 

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There aren't many gigs in the civilian world where you get a guaranteed paycheck, pay raises, free health care, college loan repayment, tuition assistance, and other education benefits just for playing music.
. . . and retirement at 20 years.

That's not something to be taken lightly. Go in at, say 23 after college, retire at 43 and with a decent life expectancy and you're still young enough to enjoy years and years of musical life, but this time with a very nice cushion (the retirement check) to help you along.

Once I was hanging with some very heavy LA first call guys (Manny Klein, Boots Mussulli, George Roberts, etc) who were on tour with a big band, when some were saying that they wished they had've stayed in the military (WWII or Korean vets) because "now" they would've already been retired and yet still would have all the (at the time, harrumph) retirement health care benefits for them and their spouse, as well as the retirement check.

That perked my ears, because I was a young player, involuntarily in the military and just waiting to get out, back into what we called "the real world". I was actually a little shocked at what I was hearing from them. Of course, this was some time ago, but I think the example is still pertinent today.

Check Sammy Nestico out. I'm not sure how many younger forum members, who identify Sammy with the Basie Band, know that he was first an arranger with the USAF Band in DC and then with the Marine Band. He was a "lifer" who spent 20 years in the military and then retired into a great "second career".
 

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For those of you who were musicians in the navy...

What is day to day life like as a musician in the navy?? What is a typical day/week like?
First, everything Agent27 has said has been spot on. As to your question, there is no typical day/week. All the bands are self-run, which means the musicians handle thinks like operations (booking of gigs), supply, library, administration, public relations, etc. So you'll be doing some things that are non-musical, but which are essential to the operation of the band. Also, some of the bands are busier than others. The Naval Forces Europe Band, in Italy, plays all over Europe and Africa and are pretty busy. My guess is that each band has its own personality and quirks.
 
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