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Conductor Auditions Info

Being a United States Air Force band officer is a unique career opportunity that combines world-class musicianship with military leadership. Air Force bands sustain morale, render ceremonial honors, and build relationships with domestic and international communities, all through the power of music; band officers are professionally trained conductors charged with leading that mission.

Air Force band officers are among the finest musical ambassadors of the United States of America and are responsible for leading, conducting, and producing a wide variety of events and recordings in support of the mission of the Air Force. Opportunities for musical leadership are diverse, ranging from jazz, vocal and popular ensembles, to symphonic and marching bands. Through public, internet, radio, cable, and TV performances and recordings that reach millions annually, officers lead bands to tell the Air Force story at home, overseas, and in deployed locations in support of U.S. national security objectives.

This career opportunity requires officers to interact with national, civic, military and industry leaders at home and around the world. To facilitate this, the Air Force provides training in leadership, public affairs, and the operational skills required to help officers lead professional bands and realize their honorable desire to serve the United States as a professional musician.


A career as an Air Force Officer comes with many desirable features:

Symphony-level audition procedures and rigorous standards attract "the best of the best" among America's young artist-players; advanced study with world-renown teachers and an aggressive performance schedule further hone Air Force musicians into world-class professionals.

Huge, enthusiastic audiences, thrilling concert tours, exacting recording sessions, television, and radio broadcasts foster high artistic standards and result in some of the best performing ensembles in the world.

Highly diverse repertoire, world-class venues, top-notch musicians, and celebrity guest artists combine to offer Air Force conductors a uniquely exhilarating professional career.

Acoustically-designed and treated rehearsal spaces, state-of-the art office and music production workstations, outstanding musical, audio, and lighting instruments, tailored performance uniforms, excellent instrument storage and repair facilities, and extensive libraries enable Air Force bands to function on a highly professional level.

When they are not performing, Air Force band members are trained in various non-musical disciplines to provide critical administrative support, such as: computer maintenance and programming, instrument repair, tour scheduling, supply, marketing, media relations, scriptwriting, announcing, library sciences, fiscal administration and office management.


Air Force conductors are given numerous opportunities for professional development. Conducting workshops, independent study sessions, even advanced degrees are possible. Other opportunities include attending conferences such as the Midwest Clinic, Texas Bandmasters Association, Music Educators National Conference, College Band Directors National Association and the World Association of Concert Band and Wind Ensembles.

Travel and relocation are typical for any Air Force member. Air Force conductors may be assigned to exciting worldwide locations in Germany or Japan, or near cities such as Saint Louis, San Francisco, San Antonio, Virginia Beach, Denver, and Washington, DC.

The competition is keen, but qualified Air Force officers are promoted and advanced to positions and assignments of increasing responsibility. Typically, outstanding officers are promoted to Captain by their fifth year of service, to Major by their 12th, and to Lt. Colonel by their 16th. The "best of the best" may be promoted to full Colonel sometime after their twentieth year of active duty service.

The Air Force takes care of its own. Modern military medical facilities with professional staffs, combined with Tricare specialty services assure Air Force families the best medical care possible. Outstanding on-base housing, schools, fitness and recreational facilities, family support centers, worship centers, commissaries and base exchanges offer Air Force members a high standard of living at an affordable cost.

Air Force retirement is an outstanding value. After twenty years of active duty, Air Force personnel become retirement eligible, earning an average 50% of their highest 36 months of basic pay. 


  • Possess a bachelor's degree, preferably with a major in conducting, instrumental performance, or music education. A master's degree or doctorate in music is preferred, as the selection process is highly competitive. The typical past successful candidate has been an accomplished musician, well versed in band repertoire, possessing a master's degree or doctorate in music and five years of conducting experience.
  • Be qualified to enter Officer Training School (OTS), be a member of Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC), or be a commissioned officer of the USAF on active duty. Civilian and enlisted applicants must be able to pass physical and written qualifying tests. Civilian applicants arrange these tests through a local Air Force recruiter and enlisted applicants arrange them through their local Military Personnel Flight. Applicants who meet the musical qualifications but do not meet these general physical and written requirements cannot be qualified for commissioning.
  • Be less than 40 years of age on the date of commissioning in OTS.
  • Be a citizen of the United States.

Audition Date:  TBD

Application Materials Due:  TBD

For more information on band officer/conductor auditions, contact:                                  

Lt Col R. Michael Mench
Chief, Air Force Bands Division
Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs
1690 Air Force Pentagon
Washington DC 20330-1690
(703) 693-2558


To apply, send an email to with the following information:

  • Subject line:  AF BAND OFFICER AUDITION 
  • Attachments PDF only
    • Cover Letter (Please address to Band Officer Audition Coordinator)
    • Resume or Curriculum Vitae if applicable
    • Contact information for three professional references (could be in resume or CV)
    • Unofficial Transcripts
    • Repertoire List in two parts:
      • Music you have conducted in rehearsal or performance.
      • Music studied enough that the applicant could rehearse and perform it on short notice
  • Body of Email:
    • Name
    • Highest Earned Degree
    • Current Status: e.g. HS Band Director, ABD, Completing Masters in Music, MM but in between jobs, etc.
    • Links to Conducting Videos
      • 20-30 minutes total (anything longer won’t be viewed)
      • All videos must be linked and online for review
      • Approximately half of the video should be concert performance, the rest should be rehearsal footage
      • Camera should be placed to feature a frontal view of the applicant and rehearsal footage should be mic’d appropriately

Once received, the application material will be reviewed by 14 days after the closeout date.  Those not selected in the first round will be notified by email.  After the initial round, all candidates will be interviewed and the final selection of applicants to the live audition will be made by the Chief, Air Force Bands Division in Washington D.C.  The recommendation to invite will be based on the applicant's capability, suitability and availability for becoming a band officer in the U.S. Air Force.

Civilian or enlisted candidates selected to become band officers are identified to the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) as eligible for entrance into Officer Training School (OTS). Upon graduating from OTS and commissioning as a second lieutenant, the new band officer will be assigned to a band as a flight commander with a four-year service commitment.


The audition requires one working day. Finalists selected by the Invitation Board to attend the audition must be prepared to arrange their trips and pay all expenses relating to their audition. All candidates will experience a two-phase evaluation: Conducting and Music Theory. Selected candidates who pass these first two evaluations will experience the last phase, an Interview by the conducting evaluation panel.


Candidates are evaluated on the following elements during a conducting session:

- Ability to conduct and rehearse previously prepared concert band compositions, selected from the lists below. The applicant must demonstrate advanced baton technique, expressive gestures and rehearsal skills in the following areas:

(1) Signaling changes in meter, tempo, and dynamics.
(2) Clearness of beat reflecting style of composition.
(3) Use of the left hand for indicating cues and ensemble balance.
(4) Score interpretation and communication.
(5) Clarity and pertinence of verbal instructions.

- Ability to ensure accurate performance regarding such fundamentals as:

(1) Melodic accuracy and rhythmic precision.
(2) Articulation, dynamics, and intonation.
(3) Style and phrasing.
(4) Balance and appropriate ensemble tone color.

NOTE: Scores are available commercially except where denoted as USAF arrangements. Scores of USAF arrangements will be provided electronically to all finalists prior to the audition.

Lyrical (Choose One)
Grainger: Lincolnshire Posy, Mvt 2 (Fennell edition)
Ives/arr. Thurston: The Alcotts
M. Lauridsen/arr. Reynolds: O Magnum Mysterium
Wagner/arr. Calliet: Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral
Whitacre: October

Technical (Choose One)
Bernstein/arr. F. Bencriscutto: Symphony No. 1, Mvt 2 "Profanation"
Grainger: Lincolnshire Posy, Mvt 5 (Fennell edition)
Holst: Second Suite in F, Mvt 3 (Fennell edition)
Persichetti: Symphony for Band, No. 6, Op. 69, Mvt 1
Schoenberg: Theme and Variations (Op. 43a)

Solos (Choose One)
Clark: Carnival of Venice (trumpet solo) (Alfred Pub)
Bizet: 'Toreador Song', Carmen (vocal solo) (USAF arrangement)
Messager/arr. Odom: Solo de Concours (clarinet) (USAF arrangement)
Puccini/arr. Odom: O Mio Babbino Caro (soprano) (USAF arrangement)

Gershwin/arr. Martin: "Fascinatin' Rhythm" Introduction (USAF arrangement)

A written examination tests the applicant's knowledge of music theory, to include chord and scale construction, key signatures, intervals, terminology, notation, scoring, and instrumentation. Additionally, there is an aural identification portion including rhythmic, melodic, harmonic, chordal, and intervallic dictation as well as error identification.

A board of officers and senior NCOs will interview those who pass the conducting and theory test portions of the audition at the end of the day. All others will be released at this point.

We make every effort to advise all candidates of their test scores and selection or non-selection to become band officers at the end of the audition day; however, candidates may choose to leave and be notified later. Qualified candidates are asked to indicate their willingness and availability to accept a band officer position. Band officer vacancies are filled only with fully qualified, most available candidates. Order of merit is established, but it's entirely possible the deciding factor will be the date of a candidates availability to go to a specific class of Officer Training School (OTS).