Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 42 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
545 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So lately, Ive been really contemplating joining a military band. Dont know which branch although Ive done a little bit of research and heard that the Marines is pretty hard to get into. Just like with their cadets, their musicians need to be top notch players. Anyways, I figured I come here to the forums and ask for some friendly advice and maybe even experiences.

I take it that maybe several members on the forum played in a military band? I could be wrong, but if there are any, what was the experience like? Am I right to believe that by being in the band that I wont be sent out to battle? I was hoping to get the scoops on things that a recruiter might not say. Any kind of advice or must knows will be greatly appreciated.

Much mahalos! :)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,875 Posts
Music wise, I'd say the Marines might be the easiest to get into. It's the hardest boot camp to get through. Also, more than any other branch, they're Marines first, musicians second. The Army should also be relatively easy to get into just because they have about 40 bands that they need to fill while the other branches only have 11 or 12 each.

Bands aren't sent to "battle", but the Marine and Army bands (or ensembles from within them) do get deployed to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The Navy and Air Force, not so much. Those branches do send small ensembles in international tours (I know a group from the Navy band in Italy just spent a couple of months touring around Africa), but it's not in warring areas. Meanwhile, a few months ago I heard that at any give time, 6 of the 12 Marine bands are over in the middle east entertaining the troops.

The Air Force bands are the hardest to get into. The other branches are always auditioning. The Air Force only auditions when there's a specific opening so there's less opportunity to join.

If I had to rank the branches in terms of level of musicianship top to bottom, I go:

Air Force
Navy
Army
Marines

This is for their regional bands only. The Academy bands and the DC bands for all branches are top notch.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,077 Posts
Air Force bases are by far the "cushiest" of them (nicest quarters, food etc), and since your job is not to kill, that may be enough to sway you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
506 Posts
My sister was in a Marine field band for several years. They received the same basic training as other marines and often had other assignments in addition to playing their instruments. (office filing, protect the commanding officer if under attack, etc.) When she was stationed at Parris Island (a boot camp for the Marines) her day was something like this -

- arise early for morning colors (including parading)
- perform office assignments during normal working hours
- perform evening colors at the end of the work day (including parading)
- at graduation time, play for the graduation (including parading)
- perform numerous concerts in evenings and weekends (the band director liked to tour between boot camp classes, she often had leave canceled because the band had a concert tour scheduled at the last minute)

After Marine boot camp, all the musicians were sent to the armed forces music school in Norfolk. The big risk was that if you didn't pass your music school training, you were in the infantry instead of the band.

A friend of mine was in The Marine Band (D.C. based, the orchestra part of it). That organization is highly competitive, enter through audition, no boot camp, but with full military benefits and commitments. His job was solely to perform music.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
545 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for all the great advice and the info everyone. This actually has been a suggestion brought on to me by my dad several years ago and often times I find myself revisiting the thought with each revisit getting more serious. There is definitely still a lot for me to consider, and although, warp x, although you may find the idea to be absurd, Id beg to differ. The way I see it, if Im able to get into a branch band, it would be a great way for me to really amp up my playing. When I think about military band, for some reason, all I can think of is one of my "fantasies" of being surrounded by music and musicians dedicating all their time to the art. Kind of like a band camp I guess, but with more focus and a solid developmental core. Traveling the world doing what I love, and also being able to provide for my future family(although that is still a ways from now). I will continue to do research and investigate more into the matter, but I appreciate all your input either good or warning... :)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician
Joined
·
25,968 Posts
I was hoping to get the scoops on things that a recruiter might not say...
Wait a minute now... a recruiter? A recruiter is going to tell you anything he thinks you want to hear just to get you to sign up for the military. Sure, they've got all sorts of bands, they'll tell you... and then next thing you know you're in Afghanistan. You do know the process for joining a military band is a whole different ball game, right? And to do so, you have to be really, really good. I mean top 1% good to even consider it.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,875 Posts
Why on earth would you waste your time on something as stupid as being in the military?
I don't know how well it works in other countries but in the US, it's a pretty good way to pull a solid, consistent paycheck while being a full time musician.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2017
Joined
·
7,471 Posts
I was in the Navy. I came to think of it as Never Again Volunteer Yourself.

B
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
26,279 Posts
re: don't go to battle

I knew guys in the 82nd Div. Bd who went to Iraq(the first war). They didn't go into battle but they pulled a lot of guard duty(prisoners of war). I also heard that musicians helped medics care for the wounded and carry casualties off the battle field.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,077 Posts
How old are you and what is your background? Have you thought about going to college and then joining as an officer? I dont think any of the professional level players I know/knew in military bands went through a recruiter. I think there is an audition process etc etc
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,077 Posts
Also keep in mind they can (not necessarily always) guarentee your position in regards to what you'll be once you go through basic training. I knew a guy who went in on the condition of going into "communications" side of operations, but after basic training they didnt have a position for him (he may have been sort of a loser) they gave him the choice of opting out, so he did.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,940 Posts
...Have you thought about going to college and then joining as an officer?...
Officers don't play in the American Military, they manage, conduct, and compose.
I am also hearing that the regional service bands are being eliminated due to budget cuts and war spending.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,875 Posts
A couple articles on the budget issue:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2010/09/29/130212353/military-marching-bands

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politi...defund-military-bands-ban-White-House-repairs

I haven't checked the latest status of band spending in the federal budget process.
It's been a couple of months since I did the calculations, but IIRC, I think I came up with that the music programs across all branches constitute 0.06% of the defense budget. Any attempt to defund military bands isn't a serious measure to balance the budget or lower military spending.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,077 Posts
But consolidation of bases at home and (especially)abroad would mean less performance needs anyway. I toured bases for US dept of def. all around the world some years ago now(closest I'll ever get to being in the military), a huge portion of those bases either dont exist anymore or have reverted back to the host country.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
5,092 Posts
How old are you and what is your background? Have you thought about going to college and then joining as an officer? I dont think any of the professional level players I know/knew in military bands went through a recruiter. I think there is an audition process etc etc
I remember the OP from Berklee in '01 or '02.

Matter of fact, Tupu, if you remember Billy Buchanon, he was in an Army band in Germany and Iraq for the last few years. Finished his Master's online while over there, and then got a PhD from Brown when he came back, courtesy of Uncle Sam. Look him up on facebook. I bet he's got lots to tell.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,077 Posts
I would also say that .06% of the military budget is probably a big-*** amount of money, but you're probably right that music cuts are probably just a reflection of needs.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,144 Posts
I was in Army bands 30-odd years ago. It was a different world back then...different military...so my personal experiences wouldn't necessarily be helpful for someone considering going into today's military as a musician/soldier/etc...

I do have one observation however in regards to the possibility of being "sent out to battle". While non-combat support units (like bands) aren't generally placed in combat situations...in today's world, you never know when the battle might come to you. As long as your entire enlistment is spent on US soil you have little to worry about, but there are few guarantees these days that you won't end up in less friendly parts of the world at some point. Simply being stationed outside of the US carries more risk now than it did when I served overseas (Korea). We never had to worry about the risk of suicide bombers, rpg's, mortar attacks, or roadside IED's when we were traveling to and from performance jobs. Many of the military casualties over the last decade have involved non-combat support troops simply moving from one place to another when the unexpected happens. In my day...the biggest risks we faced were STD's...not IED's. The only bullet we feared was the dreaded "silver bullet"...(the penicillin shot you would get if you did happen to fall victim to an std...LOL). Yep...it's a different world out there.
 
1 - 20 of 42 Posts
Top