Once you got in, did you have to do anything else in order to be officially in?
Getting the audition was one thing, and after that you have to do your military entrance processing. That's a long day, where you go the night before and stay in a hotel with bunch of other enlistees. As a musician, you stick out like a sore thumb! You take the ASVAB test, which is made to determine where enlistees may function in the military. Because I already had a job, I only had to get a 35 out of 100. A 92 will qualify you for almost any job. This test has nothing to do with music; it asks you about math, electronics, english, mechanics, etc. I got an 88!
"Any kind of health issue could disqualify you"
You have to do medical processing as well. They want you to disclose absolutely everything, so you must be very honest. Any kind of health issue could disqualify you from enlisting; for example: allergies, eye sight, rashes, past fractures or broken bones. You need records for everything for the doctors to accept you. Once you're in, you have full health care benefits, so they are very careful about who is allowed to enlist. That was much more intense that I anticipated, because they could have disqualified me. You want to make sure you're on top of your paper work, very healthy, and definitely drug free. They do a blood test, hearing test and a full physical. There's also a background check. If you're a good person and you're healthy, you should be fine.
"Anyone in the Navy goes to a school before they
get posted to get training for their job."
What is the process gonna be like before you get on post?
I will go to basic training for 8 to 9 weeks. Then I go directly to the Navy School of Music in Norfolk, VA. From what I hear, the school of music is where the training is. Anyone in the Navy goes to a school before they get posted to get training for their job. The school of music is for the Navy, Army and Marines. It was originally created just for the Navy, but once the Army and the Marines created music programs, the began to enroll as well .
Of the music programs in the military, there are only two you want to work for. I got in the Army on my first audition and that was really easy, but you could get posted on anyone of the 52 posts, so you're not necessarily in a band program. You' re given the opportunity on your base to do something with your instrument, but you can be deployed, and you're there primarily as a soldier. Same for the Marines, they're more soldiers than musicians.
"You perform with well-known musicians,
at festivals, for high profile government figures"
The Air Force is a great band program to be in, with great benefits. You audition directly for the band you will be stationed with. They don't have any vacancies right now but you can monitor it on the USAF Band Program website. It's well put together and they do great music at a high level. The Navy also has a great system of websites for every band, and they're very active. Your primarily duty is as a musician so you won't be deployed for combat. As far as bands go, there are twelve of them: eight in the states and a few abroad. Once you're accepted into the program, you go to basic training, attend the school of music and are stationed. Each band has a rehearsal facility with huge rehearsal halls, recording studios, and practice rooms. There are many opportunities to perform with well known musicians, at festivals, for high profile government figures and for the general population.
"If you want to pursue a career as a military
musician, it's between the Navy and the Air Force"
In the end, if you want to pursue a career as a military musician, it's between the Navy and the Air Force, these are the serious programs. Most of the people in the Navy Band have a college degree, so they start at a higher rank, and the average age of acceptance in the Navy and the Air Force music program is about 25.