U.S. Air Force Band of Flight

Questions

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How many performances do bands do per year? 

On the average, Air Force bands perform over 350 programs per year (all groups total - soloists to massed units) for military, recruiting, government, and community relations events. 

 

What duties will I have other than playing in the band?

Several. The band squadron is a fairly self-contained unit, meaning its people must perform other duties centered on band-related needs and activities. Each member is eventually assigned to a shop within the band. All assignments are made to keep the band functioning. 
Examples: 

Music Library 
Publicity (publicity kit and web site development and maintenance) 
Tour Scheduling (coordinating group tours and performances) 
Equipment Supply (procurement and inventory) 
Band Administration (records clerk, training monitor, auditions, awards and decorations) 
Computer Staff (application development, network administration, software/hardware maintenance) 
Vehicles (coordinating/maintaining band vehicles) 
Music Production Staff (arranging, copying) 
New members usually serve on loading crew. Loading crew members load, unload, set-up and tear down equipment before and after each performance. New members also may be tasked to work approximately one day a month answering the phone and running errands for the band' s administrative staff. This requirement varies from band to band.

Assuming I'm going into the Air Force in another career field, can I audition for a regional band while in basic training? 

Yes. Occasionally, people do audition for the band while in basic training. One of our active duty bands, The USAF Band of the West, is stationed at Lackland AFB and can assist in the audition. We recommend, however, that you audition before you go into basic training because, while there, you'll have very little free time to prepare for an audition. 

A basic trainee must first request to audition through either (1) their TI, (2) a Drum & Bugle TI (if they are in that flight), or (3) someone at the Classification office when they go for job assignments. Some recent trainees supposedly were informed by their recruiters that the Band would contact them in basic training and set up an audition for them. This is false! The Band does not go to basic training flights to see if anyone wants to audition. You must get one of the three people listed above to call the Band to help set up an audition. Do not wait until the 4th or 5th week of basic training to schedule an audition. If you wait this late in your training, it may been impossible to arrange an audition because the Band may be unavailable. Schedule the audition early in your training. 

At the audition, you are given a list of skills pertinent to your instrument of which you must demonstrate specific required masteries. If you want to proceed, you are given an instrument and allowed approximately 30 minutes of warm-up time. If the trainee is still in the early weeks of training, the Band may give them music (not an instrument) and set up an appointment a few days to a week later to do the official audition. We suggest you bring your own prepared pieces with you. Don't count on the Band having the exact music you need. Otherwise, the audition may be based solely on sight reading and scales/rudiments. 

Again, we recommend that you audition before you go into basic training because, while there, you'll have very little free time to prepare for an audition. The odds decrease that you'll pass an audition successfully while in basic training.

 

Do Air Force musicians have a technical school to attend after basic training? 

No. While in basic training, all enlisted musicians are assigned to the drum and bugle corps flight for initial skills training. After basic, musicians go directly to their assigned band.

 

Does every regional band musician have to go through basic training? 

Yes, basic training is a requirement for every Air Force musician, enlisted or officer.

 

How and when will I know which band I'm assigned to? 

As a general rule, you'll know to which band you'll be assigned before you enlist, usually the same day as your audition. Musicians are rarely diverted from that initial assignment.

 

What is basic training like? How long is it? 

Basic Training is an initial 8-week course at Lackland AFB, TX (San Antonio). While in basic, you'll learn standard military drill and ceremonies, Air Force history, customs and courtesies, and participate in daily physical fitness exercises. Visit the Basic Training web site for more details. USAF Basic Traning Site

Is there opportunity for continued education for an advanced degree? 

Yes. The Air Force encourages its people to seek continued development in their area of expertise. For the first few years, band members undergo extensive On-The-Job training (OJT) to upgrade their job skills. Training includes performance and administrative tasks. Bands set aside funds for private instructions and for participation in professional workshops and conferences. In addition, 100% tuition reimbursement (up to $250 per semester hour, not to exceed $4500 annually) is available for those working on an Associate, Bachelor, or Master degree in music.

What instruments/equipment are supplied by the Air Force? 

Professional quality instruments and related supplies are provided for each musician.

 

Will I be asked to perform on any other instruments? 

There may be times when you will be asked to play related instruments to help keep the band functioning. Examples: 

Trumpet/Flugelhorn 
Flute/Piccolo 
Clarinet/Bass Clarinet/E-flat Clarinet 
Sax/Clarinet 
Trombone/Bass Trombone/Euphonium 
Vocal, Guitar, Bass, or Piano/auxiliary Percussion

When do I "house hunt" after basic training? 

Married personnel can be given 8 days for "house hunting." The days do not count against your vacation time (leave). The restrictions for "house hunting" (permissive TDY) are: 

Must be taken in area of assigned base. 
Must be taken immediately after basic. 
Personnel "sign-in" to the base after finding a place to live or the 8 days have been used.

 

Where can I stay upon immediate arrival to the band? 

Incoming service members and families can be housed on base temporarily for up to 30 days for a small, reimbursable fee.

 

Where will I live? On or off base?

Married members have the choice of living on- or off-base, however, there is a waiting list at some bases for on-base housing. Single members are normally assigned to a single-person dormitory room. At some bases, single members may elect to live off-base immediately. Ask the band manager or audition monitor at the band you'll be assigned to for further details.

 

Where will my household goods be stored if I am temporarily housed? 

If the Air Force is moving your goods, they will store them while you are temporarily housed. If you decide to move yourself, you will bear the storage responsibility yourself. You will be reimbursed for some of the moving and storage expenses. 

What can I expect will be my monthly salary? 

New recruits who have earned college bachelor degrees are awarded the rank of Airmen First Class (E-3 pay grade) after graduating from basic training and earn ~$1410 per month basic military pay. Your pay increases as tenure and cost-of-living increases. Depending on your rank and tenure, approximately 20 percent of your salary and benefits are tax-free. In addition, the Air Force offers non-taxable housing and food allowances to help cover your living expenses.

 

What other benefits does the Air Force offer? 

Several. 

College Loan Repayments: up to $10,000. 

Housing Allowance: Living expenses, including utility bills and maintenance, are paid in full for on-base residents. A housing allowance is provided for off-base residents. The housing allowance is based on your rank and geographic location. Key in your current zip code as an example. 

Subsistence (Food) Allowance: The average rate for subsistence (food) allowance is approximately $323 per month for enlisted people. Instead of a subsistence allowance, most single airmen will receive "Rations in Kind" and eat as many as four meals a day in the base dining facility for FREE. Together with the housing allowance and the basic military pay, a married Airman First Class with dependents living off-base, for example, can earn on the average $3318 per month (~$39,816 annually), approximately $1613 (~$19,356 annually) tax-free. 
(Note: figures are based on the average housing rates for all regional bands in the 48 states.) 

TDY Expenses: When traveling for job-related reasons (otherwise known as temporary duty [TDY] away from your home base), you'll receive additional tax-free money to cover your meals, lodging, and other incidental expenses. 

Uniform Allowance: You'll receive an annual tax-free clothing allowance to replace uniform items. 

Savings at base facilities: You'll save about 25% by shopping on-base at the Air Force department stores, grocery stores, and service stations. 

Medical and Dental Care: You'll receive free comprehensive medical and dental care and low-cost life insurance -- $400,000 coverage for only $28 a month. Family members may receive medical care at military or civilian facilities through various options for little or no cost.

For what type of audience does the band play?

The concert and jazz bands perform for audiences of all ages. The chamber winds, brass and woodwind quintets perform concerts, recitals, and special youth programs. Show bands and pop music combos perform for all ages with a focus on recruitable-age audiences. All groups perform for military functions.

 

What are the performance sites like? 

Our performances are in all types of settings, from the finest concert halls to other venues such as school or civic auditoriums, outdoor festivals, or gymnasiums and field houses.

 

Where does the band perform? 

Each Air Force Band has a geographical "territory" for performing. The Band of Flight territory includes the area surrounding Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.