Need a good gig? Join the Navy!

FreDrummer

Silver Member
Actually, there will probably be some serious competition going on for this coveted seat...
Oh, yeah. Our sound guy served 20 years in the USAF at the Air Force Academy. It's not as if you can joing the Air Force, Army, or Navy, and, because you play an instrument, think you'll try to get a band slot. No. Our guy had a degree in audio engineering, yet still had to interview, then get selected for the slot, BEFORE he could enlist in the AF. But, sure, a great gig if you can get it. He served 20 years as a sound guy(!), although his official specialty code was "clarinetist" (he is also a woodwind player). He is now retired from the AF and still doing what he loves.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Oh, yeah. Our sound guy served 20 years in the USAF at the Air Force Academy. It's not as if you can joing the Air Force, Army, or Navy, and, because you play an instrument, think you'll try to get a band slot. No. Our guy had a degree in audio engineering, yet still had to interview, then get selected for the slot, BEFORE he could enlist in the AF. But, sure, a great gig if you can get it. He served 20 years as a sound guy(!), although his official specialty code was "clarinetist" (he is also a woodwind player). He is now retired from the AF and still doing what he loves.
A lot depends on your CO. Lowell Graham, former conductor of the main Air Force band in DC, was a complete douche. All the percussionists I knew in that band at the time were sick of him. But in general, not usually a bad gig. I was offered a position with the AF band in Dayton at WP AFB, but decided to stay in NC to be closer to family. Sometimes I regret that decision. LOL
 

tcspears

Gold Member
A lot depends on your CO. Lowell Graham, former conductor of the main Air Force band in DC, was a complete douche
I think douche is part of the job requirement for most conductors!!


I know a few people that went into the services for music, and it's a great gig. Just like Doctors and Dentists, Musicians go in at a much higher level than most recruits going in for other jobs. Most musicians go in with a college degree though, so your skills have to be sharp.

They got excellent pay, housing allowance, meal allowance, and they were still able to gig in the area most nights.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
A friend of mine who is one of the music directors at Annapolis sent me that link. Unfortunately, there's an age limit - I believe under-35 is what they want, so that takes me out. But even then, you have to live in Annapolis and I'd take a major pay cut. Oh well. Good luck youngins!
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
I spend 20 years in the Navy and actually lived in the same barracks as some of the members of the band in Pearl Harbor. My take away after talking to them is that if you don't have a degree, don't bother. You have to be a multi-instrumentalist that can sight read on a number of instruments. I think even the percussionists had to be able to play other instruments. Pretty cake job, and as mentioned if you have a degree and join you come in at a much higher rank.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I spend 20 years in the Navy and actually lived in the same barracks as some of the members of the band in Pearl Harbor. My take away after talking to them is that if you don't have a degree, don't bother. You have to be a multi-instrumentalist that can sight read on a number of instruments. I think even the percussionists had to be able to play other instruments. Pretty cake job, and as mentioned if you have a degree and join you come in at a much higher rank.
Most of them do have a degree, but you don't need to be able to play multiple instruments. Many drummers go there and can only play percussion (excluding piano, xylophone, et cetera). Many can only play snare, bass drum, tenor drum, or drum kit.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Most of them do have a degree, but you don't need to be able to play multiple instruments. Many drummers go there and can only play percussion (excluding piano, xylophone, et cetera). Many can only play snare, bass drum, tenor drum, or drum kit.
You at least have to be really good on set, OR really good on ALL the concert instruments, including mallets, in my experience. The AF bands under Graham were really sticklers for being really good at literally all of it. I was offered the job conditional on working on my drumset chops, even though my concert skills were very sufficient. However, Graham has retired, and that was just AF anyway. So I don't know, these days. My info is not that current.
 

bigd

Silver Member
I've seen the audition list for several of the military groups the last couple of years. This includes the drumset job for an army job last spring. All have mallet percussion and orchestral exerpts on them. I know the kid in a drumset position with the President's Own. He was appointed about 4 years ago. He had to play concert percussion and Bach Cello Suites on marimba. The audition was very demanding. He has his doctorate in concert percussion and is a monster set player. A doctorate who graduated from my son's school got a job about a year ago with Pershing's Own top Army band. Same deal. The kids auditioning for symphony orchestras are also auditioning for these jobs.
 

steadypocket

Gold Member
Yeah versatility is really the key. Selectees may play tympani one night in the concert band and drumset in a pop/rock band the next. During my 20 year Air Force career, I served as a recruiter for a few years and sent a few applicants down to McGuire AFB for auditions. Drumset only players who can't sight read anything put in front of them need not apply.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Yeah versatility is really the key. Selectees may play tympani one night in the concert band and drumset in a pop/rock band the next. During my 20 year Air Force career, I served as a recruiter for a few years and sent a few applicants down to McGuire AFB for auditions. Drumset only players who can't sight read anything put in front of them need not apply.
Would you like to share your opinions of Col. Lowell Graham?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I don't know if this still holds true, but I have a book from the 90's call Issac Asimov's Book of Facts.

There's an entry in there that told of a commanding officer in the Air Force who was taken aback when he found out that bandleaders required 15 months of training to be ready to do their job, as compared to the 12 months of training it took a fighter pilot to train for his job.
 

FreDrummer

Silver Member
... as compared to the 12 months of training it took a fighter pilot to train for his job.
Not quite true...I received my pilot's training in the USAF. Basic Undergaduate Pilot Training (UPT) is one year long. Pilots selected for fighter slots then go through Fighter Lead-In training (which is about two months) where they fly the same jet they were flying in UPT but learn basic fighter skills. Then, they go to learn to fly the specific jet to which they are assigned (not sure how long it is these days, but it could range from 3-6 months). When they leave there, they are only "basically" qualified in the equipment, i.e. Certified by the Air Force to safely operate the jet. There's still weapon quals and absorbing a lot of information from the "old heads" in the squadron.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Not quite true...I received my pilot's training in the USAF. Basic Undergaduate Pilot Training (UPT) is one year long. Pilots selected for fighter slots then go through Fighter Lead-In training (which is about two months) where they fly the same jet they were flying in UPT but learn basic fighter skills. Then, they go to learn to fly the specific jet to which they are assigned (not sure how long it is these days, but it could range from 3-6 months). When they leave there, they are only "basically" qualified in the equipment, i.e. Certified by the Air Force to safely operate the jet. There's still weapon quals and absorbing a lot of information from the "old heads" in the squadron.
I suspect that info was from way back, probably the 1950s or 60s. Fighter pilot training was probably shorter then.
 

lsits

Gold Member
I was in the Navy from 1976 to 1982. The first week of basic training I volunteered for the recruit drum and bugle corps. Pretty easy audition and a pretty sweet gig in comparison to the regular training. Got to play three graduation ceremonies and even got off base a couple of times. One time we played at a shopping mall and one time we marched in a Memorial Day Parade. After the parade they took us to the local American Legion and we all got drunk. Good times!
 
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