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Membership in Air Force bands is through competitive auditions which are scheduled when vacancies are projected. Vacancies are advertised on the Air Force Bands web page, individual band web pages, and may be advertised in various music industry trade and technical journals.
Step One: Contact the band holding the audition and send any required materials. A committee will review the materials and determine whether an applicant demonstrates the minimal musical skills necessary for membership in the band. .
Step Two: Applicants contact their local Air Force Recruiter to set up a prescreen interview to determine the applicant's eligibility to enlist in the U.S. Air Force.
Step Three: Applicants who pass the initial prescreening are invited to a live audition. They are asked to perform various prepared compositions and to demonstrate outstanding ensemble skills. (Note: Those invited to the audition travel at their own expense.)
Step Four: If found musically qualified, the applicant is given an Air Force Form 485, Application for Enlistment in an Air Force Band. The applicant then takes the form to their local Air Force recruiter to begin the process of enlistment. Applicants must also qualify to enlist as a member of the military service by passing a written skill assessment and a physical exam.
Step Five: If found fully qualified, the applicant must complete Air Force Basic Military Training, an initial 7 1/2-week course at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Musicians, who are usually highly educated and very self-disciplined, tend to do quite well at basic training. Projected band members are sent through basic training in the Drum and Bugle Corps flight. After successful completion of basic training, members will report directly to their assigned band.
Performers -- instrumentalists, vocalists, audio engineers -- fulfill their Air Force commitments as enlisted professionals. To be accepted, they must have a high school diploma (minimum requirement) and pass a live audition. Non-prior service applicants must enlist before their 40th birthday and pass the written and physical exams of the Air Force.
For musical requirements, see the Auditions page.
Conductors fulfill their Air Force commitments as commissioned officers. To be accepted, they must have at least a bachelor's degree in music, pass a live audition, and be qualified to be a commissioned officer of the United States Air Force. Applicants also must be a United States' citizen and must be under 40 years of age on the date of commissioning. For more information, see the Officer Audition page.
Only the best are selected to perform rock, jazz, and classical music with Air Force bands. To adapt to the demands of each unique performance situation, Air Force bands are exceptionally versatile. They are filled with highly experienced and talented musicians often selected from our nation's finest universities, conservatories, and colleges. Fully 80% of Air Force band officers possess a master's degree and 10% possess a doctorate. More than 90% of our enlisted musicians possess a bachelor's degree; 45% possess advanced graduate degrees.
For further information about current openings and career opportunities in music, call Air Force Bands at 703-692-8168