The United States Coast Guard Band was established in March, 1925 as the result of the collaborative efforts of some of the era’s most renowned musicians, including U.S. Navy Band leader Lieutenant Charles Bender and the legendary John Philip Sousa, who led the U.S. Marine Cops Band for a dozen years. But it wasn’t until forty years later, when President Lyndon Johnson put his signature to Public Law 89-189, that the Coast Guard Band was officially codified as the permanent musical arm of the service.

Based at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, the 55-member ensemble performs at some of the most famed musical venues not only in the United States, but also around the globe. In 1989, it earned the signal honor as the first band representing a branch of the United States Armed Forces to play in the former Soviet Union, holding concerts in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg); nearly twenty years later (2008), it was in the spotlight yet again when it became the first premier American military band to tour Japan.

Only the cream of the musical crop are considered for a spot in the 55-member ensemble, and auditions are offered only when a vacancy is expected to offer an opening, which are announced on the Band’s Web site and forwarded to the music departments of college and universities across the country. Auditions are conducted at Leamy Hall on the grounds of the Coast Guard Academy, with candidates advancing to a final round based solely on their musical performances. But ultimate selection requires both a successful interview and passage of a background check, with the Band Director as the ultimate arbiter.

It practically goes without saying that anyone chosen to join this highly acclaimed band is a first-class musician, but it turns out that they are also Musicians First Class: winners of the audition enlisted in the United States Coast Guard the paygrade of E6 in the rating of Musician (MU).

In addition to the full 55-member orchestra, Coast Guard Musicians also have the opportunity to play in one of seven smaller ensembles, including two devoted to Woodwinds (a Trio and a Quintet), a Brass Quintet, a Saxophone Quartet, a Flute and Harp Duo, a Chamber Music ensemble, and a Dixieland Jazz Band.


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As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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