Music is an important part of military life. Service bands and vocal groups have a strong tradition of performing at ceremonies, parades, concerts, festivals, and dances. Musicians and singers perform in service bands, orchestras, and small groups. They perform many types of music, including marches, classics, jazz, and popular music.

Job Details:

What They Do:

Musicians in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Play in or lead bands, orchestras, combos, and jazz groups
  • Sing in choral groups or as soloists
  • Perform for ceremonies, parades, concerts, festivals, and dances
  • Rehearse and learn new music when not performing
  • Play brass, percussion, woodwind, or string instruments

Work Environment:

Musicians play indoors in theaters, concert halls, and at dances; outdoors at parades and open-air concerts. They also travel regularly.

Training Provided:

Although musicians must be musically proficient to enter the service, music training is given to new band members. Job training consists of 11 to 24 weeks of classroom instruction, including practice playing instruments. Training length varies depending on musical specialty. Further training occurs on the job through regular rehearsals and individual practice. Course content typically includes:
  • Music theory
  • Group instrumental techniques
  • Sight-reading musical scores
  • Dance band techniques


The services have over 4,000 musicians. Each year, they need new musicians due to changes in personnel and the demands of the field. After job training, musicians are assigned to band units located with U.S. forces around the world. They perform as members of bands and vocal groups. In time, they may become heads of their instrument sections and, possibly, bandleaders or orchestra conductors. The most outstanding performers are selected for the official service bands or orchestras of their service.

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