Resources, tips, and info on military band auditions
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Each of the five branches of the military have professional opportunities for euphonium players. Each service has premier ensembles and regular field bands. The Army has three premier bands: The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own," The U.S. Army Field Band, and The West Point Band at the U.S. Military Academy. The Marines and Air Force both have just one, both of which are stationed in Washington, D.C. The Navy has two: The Navy Band in D.C. and the Naval Academy Band in Annapolis, Maryland. Last but not least, the Coast Guard Band is located in New London, CT. These premier bands advertise for vacancies and have auditions very similarly to symphony orchestras and likewise have a very competitive audition process.
For regular field bands, the audition process is quite different and varies from service to service. Generally speaking, you will have an audition and upon acceptance into the program, you will be stationed with a band based off of need at your instrument. Also, like everyone else in the military, you will be subject to transfers from one band to another over the course of your career. The military has bands all around the world.
Salary for military band members is based off of the standard military pay scale. Premier band members join the service at an accelerated rank of E-6 due to civilian acquired skills and to also make the position comparable to other professional music jobs to recruit the best players. Field band members also enter in at an accelerated rank due to civilian acquired skills but at a smaller rank. Which pay grade they enter in at depends on the service and ranges from E-1 to E-4.
Due to the small amount of actual euphonium jobs in the premier bands (and the country for that matter), they do not come open very often. Most members win a job with the band and stay for a 20 year career. As a result, they are highly sought after jobs and have subsequently very competitive auditions. Each band has varying audition processes. Some only invite certain players based off of resume and tapes while some advertise an open audition in which they will sometimes hear upwards of 100 players in a day for just one position. Most players in premier bands are winners of international competitions and have masters and even doctorate degrees in music. To the right, click on the link for tips on the audition process to get an idea of what to expect and how much preparation it may take.
Almost all premier bands and field bands require their particular service's basic training after completing a successful audition. The only two bands that do not require it are the "President's Own" Marine Band and the Coast Guard Band. Furthermore, there is no "special" basic training for band members compared to the rest of the military. Basic training durations vary from service to service.
The main difference is how they are advertised. Premier bands advertise nationally for specific positions due to vacancies and hold an audition just for that one (or sometimes multiple) spot/s. Field bands hold auditions for their specific program after which applicants will be assigned to a band upon a successful audition based off of individual band unit's needs. As you can imagine, the audition itself for field bands is not as demanding but not a given either. Applicants certainly need a certain amount of experience to be successful.
A college degree is not required for any of the military bands. However, for premier bands, it is very common for members to have multiple degrees in music. Members of the premier bands come from some of the top music schools in the country. Furthermore, a common misnomer is that a college degree gets you a higher rank. For some of the branches, normally a college degree would allow you to join at the rank of E-4, but since band members already come in at at least E-4, this does not apply.