Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm with the Band: Army

Band: West Point Marching Band
University: United States Military Academy
Founded: 1817
Current Band Leader: Lt. Col. Jim Keene

Every marching band at every parade or halftime show in America is a direct descendant of the military brass bands of the 19th century. The United States military has been a great musical patron from our nation's beginnings. Each branch of the service has several ensembles which perform to high professional standards. The academies are an important part of the military musical tradition. The West Point Marching Band is a combination of members from three other musical groups: the Hellcats, Jazz Knights and Concert Band.

The West Point Marching Band is no ordinary college marching band. While they do play at football games and other sporting events, the ensemble consists entirely of professional musicians, all of them active duty soldiers. Cadets are not eligible. This is a fully functioning military band. Beyond the fun stuff, they serve at funerals, Acceptance Day (featured in the clip) and other solemn occasions. While army life isn't easy for anyone, it's a sensible gig for a musician: salary, benefits, stability, etc. Your average freelance musician in New York can rarely depend on any of those.

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