|United States Army Band COA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
You have likely seen the US Army band "Pershing's Own" at various occasions or playing taps, the beautiful and stirring music played as a final tribute to fallen soldiers. Started in 1922, the US Army Band has played a significant role in major US events and happenings.
The band plays at the White House and events such as the visit of a leader of a foreign country. The band also performs on official occasions as the need arises. The main mission of the Army band is to provide "musical support to the US troops both at home and abroad as well as for the citizens of the USA."
There are four special army bands that have the honor of performing at special functions. These are Pershing's Own, Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, US Army Field Band and US Military Academy Band. These special units are comprised of the best musicians in the US Army.
There are several other musical units in the US Army Band. The jazz group called the US Army Blues plays original American jazz music. The US Army Chorus is an all-male group, which as the name suggests, is the vocalist arm of the band. Other support units within the main band are the Brass Quintet, Rock and Pop Band, and Stage Band.
How to Join the Band
Before being accepted into the US Army Band, you have to meet regular army enlistment requirements. As such, if you are considering joining the US Army Band, get in touch with the recruiting office in your area. Once you meet the standard enlistment criteria, you will need to audition. Only proficient musicians are accepted. So what does being proficient mean? You must sight read music and have an understanding of scales, tone, rhythm and other related areas. The audition is generally administered by a band recruiting officer or a band commander.
The US Army website provides valuable information on what's expected in your audition based on your musical instrument of choice. For instance, to pass the audition for the keyboard, the following requirement must be met:
* Prepare selections from each of the following: swing, pop/rock, ballad and Latin and classical (optional). This is valued at 40 percent.* Sight read representative literature and chord changes, for another 50 percent* Play major scales with arpeggios, three octaves, memorized, use both hands for 10 percent.* Should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the following chords: Maj 7, Min 7, Dom 7 and the ii-V7-I chord progression.
In order to be accepted, you have to audition for a specific instrument. You must be able to play one or more of the following:
* Bassoon* Clarinet* Electric bass* Electric guitar* Euphonium* Flute* French horn* Keyboard* Percussion* Saxophone* Trombone* Trumpet* Tuba
According to Jeremiah Keillor, Director of the Fort Knox's 113th Army Band known as the Dragoons, "Band soldiers come in at a higher rank as part of the Army Civilian Acquired Skills Program." The reason for obtaining a higher ranking when you join the U.S. Army Band is to acknowledge your years of training and experience in music.
Once a musician is accepted into the US Army Band, they are required to learn the basics of being a soldier in the US Army. This means that they have to complete a total of nine weeks of Basic Compact Training.
There are 30 U.S army bands spread across the USA and internationally. So, do you have what it takes to play in the US Army Band?