U.S. NAVY BANDMASTER SOFT EPAULETS

For nearly twenty years, the Navy’s Music For Recruiting program has given the Navy’s musicians in the nine Fleet Bands a chance to “stretch their legs” by playing contemporary music for high-school and college students at campuses across the country. The program has undoubtedly led to many students inquiring as to how they can become a Musician (MU) in the Navy, and many of them might be surprised that the very first step is the same as for joining any band: an audition.

While those wishing to apply for entry into the Navy in the Musician rating may audition at any site where a Navy Band is located, there are no scheduled audition dates. Instead, applicants must contact a recruiter, who in turn contacts the Navy Band’s Audition Supervisor to find out when the band is available to perform with the applicant during the on-site audition. Auditions usually take about half an hour, but run a little longer for guitarists, bassists, keyboardists, percussionists, and vocalists, typically clocking in between 45 minutes to an hour.

After the audition, the Audition Supervisor send a report to the Fleet Band Activities office located at Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tennessee. (DVD footage of the audition is required for reports of Vocalists and Entertainers). The thumbs up or down is sent back to the recruiter the applicant contacted, who notifies the applicant of the results. If accepted, the recruiter will be sent a letter specifying that the applicant has been qualified for assignment to the MU Class “A” School.

There is no longer a Chief Warrant Officer program to become a Bandmaster; all officers in the Navy Band program are commissioned through the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program, which means new musicians must serve at least eight years and be eligible for promotion to Chief Petty Officer before they can apply for an officer’s commission. But college graduates do enlist at a paygrade of E3 as opposed to E1 for non-college grads, which does put potential Bandmasters on a faster track to reach the E6 paygrade required for participation in the LDO program.
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