Careers - Frequently Asked Questions

Active Duty Bands

Army Reserve/National Guard Bands

The following are questions that are frequently asked about our Army Reserve and National Guard Bands. Please note that each of our Reserve and National Guard bands function slightly differently and may have a unique answer one of these questions. It is always best to discuss these questions with the band that you are interested in joining for the most accurate information.

Frequently Asked Questions – Active Duty Bands

Which bands currently have vacancies?

To staff the Army Bands, musicians are hired into our program monthly. Assignments are selected after the completion of Basic Combat Training.

The four Special Army Bands post vacancies on their individual web sites. Please check periodically for openings.

How often do Army musicians move?

On average, musicians move every 3-4 years. In many ways this works to the musician’s advantage because it allows them the opportunity to serve in other areas of the country or overseas and also gives them various experiences/positions which are valued in the Army promotion system.

Will my family move with me?

Yes. There are very few exceptions to this which include tours to South Korea for a one year period and deployments.

Will I have to deploy to a combat zone? If so, will I be reclassified into another job?

You may deploy as a musician with an Army Band to an area where the U.S. Army is in continued conflict. You will NOT be reclassified into another job in the event that your band is deployed. You will deploy as a Band member and perform duties assigned to your Band in your location like concerts for the troops, playing for ceremonies, and using music as a diplomatic tool to improve relations with local nationals. Deployments range in length from 1-15 months.

What kinds of groups will I play in?

Each band has the capability to perform together as a concert band and to break down into several smaller ensembles. These ensembles might include jazz band/combo, rock band, brass/woodwind quintet, Dixieland band, country band, salsa band, etc. Most musicians can expect to perform in more than one of these groups depending on their instrument.

What types of performances opportunities can I expect?

As a musician for The US Army you will be involved in many different performances depending on the band and location you are assigned to. Some of these performances will include military ceremonies, parades, tattoos, concerts, recitals, festivals, holiday celebrations, and dinner receptions, just to mention a few.

What is the typical day like in an Army Band?

Most band members conduct physical training (an hour-long workout consisting of cardio or strength training exercises) first thing in the morning. After breakfast, the band reconvenes at 9:00 and spends the rest of the day in rehearsals for both small and large ensembles. When not involved in rehearsals, band members spend time accomplishing their additional duties (read below) or practicing individually. The schedule is adjusted as needed for performances or other obligations. A typical day ends at about 4:30.

What are the additional duties for an Army musician?

Each Army Band is completely self sufficient. This means that we schedule our own performances, arrange for transportation, order music and instruments, file paperwork to ensure timely promotions and leave, and manage training requirements for the Army. Each musician is assigned to an additional duty within the band such as working in the music library or maintaining an inventory of instruments, just to mention a few.

What can I expect my monthly salary to be?

You can find the latest Army basic pay charts at http://www.dfas.mil/army2.html. This web site will also give you information about allowances that you will receive in addition to your basic pay. These may include an allowance for housing, allowance for food, and a cost of living allowance based on where you are stationed and whether you have dependents or not.

What are the additional benefits of service?

You will receive completely free medical and dental care including prescriptions and procedures. As a member of the Armed Forces, you will have access to the Thrift Savings Plan which is considered one of the best retirement investment programs in the U.S. The Army also offers the Post 9-11 GI Bill for continued education. Additionally, the Army offers tuition assistance for classes you take while on active duty.

Can I take time off?

Yes. In the Army, you will have 30 days paid vacation. You can arrange to take these days as you like in accordance to the band’s schedule. Each band typically sets aside two blocks of time (usually around Christmas and in the summer) when the band will not schedule performances so that members can take extended leave.

I'’ve already been to music school. Will I have to go to the Army School of Music?

All musicians entering the active and reserve bands system with the exception of those going to our Premier Bands will attend the Army School of Music for Advanced Individual Training (AIT). This is a 10-week course with emphasis on building entertainment concepts in the small group setting to provide the most engaging performances to our audiences. Soldiers also learn basic military marching techniques used in the bands and continue their Army training specific to what a band member is expected to know.

Can I teach/gig in the civilian sector while serving in an Army Band?

Absolutely! Many of our musicians enjoy teaching and gigging in the community and we encourage this as a way to further professional development. As long as your outside obligations don’t interfere with your full-time job, the Army Band, you are free to teach and gig as much as you like.

Can I audition for one of the Special Army Bands while on active duty?

Yes. It is very common for our musicians to take and win premier band jobs. It is important that you respectfully request permission from your chain of command before applying but there should be no problem as long as the audition dates don’t interfere with an important performance or other engagement.

Can I go to school while on active duty?

Absolutely! In fact, the Army offers tuition assistance for courses you take while on active duty. Many musicians take advantage of this benefit and are able to complete degree programs while serving full-time in a band. This can be accomplished through online universities, satellite campuses, or local colleges. Of course, coursework cannot interfere with your responsibilities at the band.

I have experience conducting/arranging/composing. Will I be able to use those skills?

Absolutely! The bands value any additional skills you bring to the table and will put them to use in any way possible.

If I have a college degree, why do I have to come in as an enlisted Soldier and not an Officer? How are Officers hired?

A majority of our musicians have at least a bachelor’s degree. In other career fields this would make them eligible to serve as a Commissioned Officer. However, due to the structure of our bands, the instrumentalists are enlisted and the conductor of the band is either a Commissioned Officer or a Warrant Officer. If you are interested in being the conductor and commander of a band, you can submit an application packet to be selected to audition for those positions.

I have heard that the Army will provide an instrument for me to play. Do I get my choice of instrument?

The Army will provide you with a professional quality instrument to play while you are stationed at that band. Each band has an inventory of instruments based on the needs of the band. You will have your choice of the instruments that the band has on hand. When it is time for the band to purchase new instruments, you will have a say in what is purchased!

What is basic training like? Can I practice my instrument while I'’m there?

Basic Combat Training is 9 weeks of intense training to transform you from a civilian to a Soldier. You will learn basic Soldiering skills such as map reading, first aid, combat drills, rifle marksmanship, and military customs and courtesies. You will do a lot of physical training to get you into great shape! You will not have time to practice your instrument at basic training. But don’t worry- every musician is in the same boat and the instructors at the School of Music expect that you will be a bit rusty when you arrive after 9 weeks away from your horn. You will have plenty of time at the school to get reacquainted with your instrument!

Frequently Asked Questions – Army Reserve/National Guard Bands

The following are questions that are frequently asked about our Army Reserve and National Guard Bands. Please note that each of our Reserve and National Guard bands function slightly differently and may have a unique answer to one of these questions. It is always best to discuss these questions with the band that you are interested in joining for the most accurate information.

How often will I have to work with a Reserve or National Guard Band?

Army Reserve and National Guard bands typically meet one weekend a month and for two weeks during the summer for annual training. Some bands, however, choose to schedule rehearsals one evening a week instead of meeting for a whole weekend once a month.

What will I do during weekend “drill”?

Bands will typically rehearse as a full band and in several smaller ensembles. During some weekends, the band may perform a concert, parade, or ceremony, or small groups will give performances in the local community. Time is also allotted during certain weekends to meet Army training requirements such as the semi-annual physical fitness test and semi-annual rifle qualification.

What does the band do during the two weeks of annual training?

Reserve and National Guard Bands typically travel to a different location every summer for their two weeks of annual training to fill in for an Active Duty Band while they take a few weeks of vacation. Reserve Component Bands will assume the duties of the Active duty band fulfilling all performance requests in that region.

If I don'’t live close to the base, where will I stay during the weekend and for the two weeks?

Soldiers who live outside of commuting distance (50 miles or more from your band’s location) are provided with on-post lodging during drill weekends. Since the two-week annual training is typically conducted at varying locations, the entire band will receive lodging accommodations during that time. If you live within 50 miles of the band, you will commute to and from the band each day during training.

Will I be able to continue going to school or working full time while serving in a Reserve or NG Band?

Yes! The Army Reserve and National Guard Bands are perfect for musicians who are attending college full-time or who are working as music teachers, band directors, or other professions.

What happens if I have to miss part of training due to a mandatory school or work obligation?

A Soldier who has a conflict between Army duty and something school related can submit a request to be absent which must be approved by the band leadership. If approved, the Soldier can make up the training obligation at a later time. A Soldier cannot be penalized in any way for missing civilian work due to a military obligation. Appropriate provisions of federal statutes provide for the leave and reinstatement of Soldiers with their civilian job due to absence for Army duty.

Will I have to go to basic training? Will it interfere with my education?

All Soldiers must go to basic training. It is a 9 week course that can be scheduled during the summer so that you will not miss any school.

Musicians also attend Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at the Army School of Music which is a 10 week course in Virginia Beach, VA. Most Reserve and National Guard musicians opt to go to basic training and AIT during two separate summers. In this case, during the year between the time that you graduate BCT and you start AIT, you will be working with your band while attending school. However, you will not receive your educational benefits or enlistment bonus until after you complete AIT.

You WILL be paid for the drill weekends and additional unit training that you attend prior to reporting to AIT.

Do I have to meet the same eligibility requirements to enlist as Active Duty Soldiers do?

All Army Soldiers, regardless of component, MOS, or unit, must meet established standard requirements for enlistment with regard to physical fitness and medical screenings. You must meet the same musical requirements as Active Duty Soldiers and maintain your musical skills throughout your career.

Will the band provide me with an instrument?

Yes, you will be provided with an issued instrument when you join your unit.

Is there a chance that I will be “activated” or deployed to a combat zone?

There are Reserve and National Guard Bands that have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan to perform music for our troops. There is not a great likelihood of a Reservist or National Guardsman to be activated but it depends greatly on the band you will be a part of and their parent organization. This is a question that would be excellent to discuss with the band you are interested in becoming a part of.