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Serious decision time---> any military musicians here to help me?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Nick Gann, Apr 25, 2003.


  1. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Hey everyone, I am coming up on a very importamt time in my life.... Soon, I will be making my post-high school plans. I want to be a professional tuba player. I have two options: military or civilian.

    I could apply to the good music schools that I have been looking at for a while, and hope for a scholarship, probably a large one will be needed, seeing as there isn't a whole lot of money at my disposal for college tuition.

    Or.... I could go to the military. I would get eveything I need, and I would get paid for it. Free housing, food, healthcare, dental, and education. That and a paycheck.

    I am seriously (very seriously) considering both options, not just having the military as a fall back plan.

    As soon as I turn 17, which is the youngest age I wil be able to, I plan on making appointments with the local recruiters for each branch to talk to them about this also. Alas, that is 4 months away, so I have a time to wait for that.

    For the military musicians here on Talkbass, I have a few specific questions.

    • What branch are you in/what branch do you think has the best music program to get into? (please be honest, don't just say the Navy because you are in the Navy, etc.)
    • What are the benefits over being a civilian musician?
    • What are the drawbacks over being a civilian musician?
    • What kind of things do you do in addition to music?
    • What are the chances of you being called off to fight if (when) there is an armed conflict?
    • Most importantly, do you regret your decision to join the military as a musician?

    Any general thoughts or ideas of tips or advice that anyone has is very welcomed. I am very serious about this, and I really want honest opinons and feelings.

    If anyone has the time or ability, I would like to chat to people about this, so if anyone has AIM or Yahoo messenger, my SN is in my profile, and my MSN is super_tubaman@hotmail.com

    If anyone would rather not put stuff on here for everyone to see, feel welcome to PM, e-mail, or IM me.

    Thanks a lot for everyone who can help me with this :)
     
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Are you kidding me?? Heck no! Like I said, I spent 14 years in the Army band, and it was pretty good. Some days were better than others. Now I'm in the Air Force band and would stay till I DIED if I could. (at least that's how I feel today)
     
  3. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Careful man...I've heard that during combat they send the tubas in first!

    brad cook
     
  4. Beefbass

    Beefbass Guest

    Feb 4, 2001
    This past New years eve, a guy who was in the Marine Corps. as a public relations officer came over to talk to me. He told me that in the Marine Corps, bandsmen are also trained and organized as machine gun units; they would go in in that capacity if there was a shortage of grunts (infantrymen).

    I was in the Army for two years, and I agree with Pacman 110% Go in the Air Force! I was in an infantry unit as a cook. One of the guys in the infantry company (we were part of the 9th Infantry division Motorized-which meant we had 2 anti-tank companies, combat and support company, infantry company, and HQ company)was in the band. He was suddenly transferred to the infantry with no explaination. That can happen in the Army.

    Pacman is also right about recruiters-they don't know about bands, and will say ANYTHING to get you to sign up!
     
  5. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Thanks for taking the time to answer me Pacman. Its good that you love what you do. Now that is what I call success.
     
  6. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Thanks for the warning about the recruiters. I'll keep that in mind whenever I come aross one;)
     
  7. damoN17

    damoN17 Guest

    Apr 26, 2003
    AZ
    ifyou enjoy being told what to do all the time by people who as stupid as a box of rocks, and they get rewarded for being stupid, so they are very good at it, join the military and play tuba.
    if you are the type who feels that people have to demonstrate at least some ability to lead in order to lead you, forget the military. the militaries idea of a great leader is one who was a great follower for longer than everyone else. I spent 3 years in the air force and as lax as it is, it still sucked.


    you should go to college and play in the band there, and then if you are still hot to join the military, you can be an officer, and they get the the good life. enlisted life is a life of serving a bunch of people who sit around and do very little
    while seeming to do alot.
     
  8. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Out of curiosity, damon, what did you do in the Air Force?

    It sounds as though you had a bit of trouble with military life, and it also sounds as though you didn't spend your time in the band. I can see this for a number of reasons that I won't get into here.

    Nick, if you're interested in playing, forget about being an officer. You'll not get to do that, in any service.
     
  9. damoN17

    damoN17 Guest

    Apr 26, 2003
    AZ
    i didnt get to play in the military band , so my opnion there is useless.
    but military life in general, is pretty much the same all over.
    I was an ECM systems maintenance for 7th special ops in germany working on MC130 e combat talons.beautiful birds. I really enjoyed my time in special ops , and as a rule had very little to complain about, but there is an awful lot of 'bee ess' that goes on, and if anyone here is trying to convince this young guy otherwise, i feel its my duty to let him know that he will emerge from the military with a permanent ' bee ess' headache.

    to try to explain the serpentine layers of insidious bs that go on, is too difficult. it has to be experienced to be believed. no individual hair can be over 1 and 1/4 inch in lenght, unless you are an old fart with a bald spot, you can create an annoying comb over with hairs as long as 4 inches, but if you are a young person, no hair can be more than an inch and a quarter in lenght. how about that one ? if there is ever an opportunity for the shift to 'cut out early' on a friday, usually the unmarried people stay behind and finish the work, while the married guys with the stripes cut out, its never a democratic process, always, how long you have been a member of the NCO group in your section determines your benefits in that unit.
    (not your medical, your 'fringe' benefits)

    stuff like that. i hate it. i hated it then, i hate it now. im 33 now, and i was 21 then, its still stupid.
    here's another one, this is classic military shinola.
    a slot came open for my career field in okinawa, for an AIRMAN, not an NCO. i apply for, and get accepted to go Kadena japan and serve with the Special ops group there , and about a month before i ship out, the orders have been changed.
    hmm. mysterious . NOW they want an nco level person, and it just so happens, they are going to take an NCO from my shop, (he pulled a favor somewhere) and tsgt whoever got MY orders to japan, becuase he had been dumped by his korean trophy wife and needed to go get another one.
    this is the kind of thing i was trying to warn the kid about. thanks for reminding me of the details.
    :)
     
  10. Beefbass

    Beefbass Guest

    Feb 4, 2001
    Well, if you do go to talk to a recruiter, here is some advice;
    NEVER sign anything on the first visit-make it clear that this first visit is just for information

    Go with a friend if possible-it'll help take the pressure off you.

    You are gonna have to audition for the band program. Make it clear that if you do not pass that audition, you are not signing up. Don't believe the "take another job, then audition once you're in the service, it's easier that way" BS. I did when I was 17, it didn't work out that way (I tried out on trombone BTW-again, listening to bad advice.)

    If you get into the Air Force band, do not worry about being put into the infantry-that only applies to Army, and Marine Corps. They don't just put people into cockpits, the way they put people into foxholes.

    GO AIR FORCE!!

    It can be a good life, depending on what you make of it.

    Hey Pacman, you ever been to McChord AFB in washington? I was at Ft. Lewis-beautiful area, isn't it?

    Sounds like you're off to a good start though; you are thinking this through, and that is smart.
     
  11. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Let's just leave it at this:




    Contrary to what happened to you (and everyone's exerience is different), things in the military are not the same accross the board.
     
  12. damoN17

    damoN17 Guest

    Apr 26, 2003
    AZ
    and you are some kind of internationally recognized expert on this becuase......................................why?

    i have spoken to , say, in the neighborhood of about 500 ex servicemen, and none have ever said to me that they miss the bs.not ONE.

    its a good thing you are so sure that the military is a cakewalk, and that young people should join up becase YOU think it's a good idea.

    there being apparently NO room for an opinion on the other side of the coin.
     
  13. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars

    ...er...because he is actually in the USAF Band doing it every day. He did plenty of time in the US Army Band for quite a while before that. He just happens to be an "internationally recognized expert" by dint of his experience, which you, my friend, do not have. His international recognition comes from being on this board and having the deservedly earned respect of its members - from around the world.

    There is "B.S." in every line of work there is, I work in what most of us here would consider to be the most "cake" day gig in the universe: I am the assistant manager of Bass Central. Trust me, there is plenty of B.S. at my job. Over all though, it is pretty damn cool - and I'd bet based on the comments from Pac, so is being in the USAF Band.

    I have talked to several dozen former military bandsmen, and to a one they have all said that they were very happy for the experience. Remember, you were NOT a military bandsman, so your experience is completely different. Is it easy? No, not always. Is it fun? No, not always. But I can guarantee it is way better than digging a ditch.

    The young man in question requested the opinions and experiences of people who have had experience at being a military bandsman - I fail to see how your opinion here is of any real value to anyone.

    You are entitled to your opinion of military service, but remember your experience in no way reflects that of the bandsmen/women that Nick requested information and opinions from.

    I was not in the military, but I respect anyone who is, and I have the sense to see the fact that for some being in the military can be a very good thing. I know I wish I had had the foresight to seriously consider doing what Nick is considering.

    It's not for everyone, but it may be for Nick. It's his decision, he's not being TOLD to do it, he is being given information and informed opinion. If you can't contribute these things, maybe you should refrain from posting in this thread?
     
  14. lump

    lump

    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    Just in case you missed this during the virtually non-stop military coverage in the last two months:

    The military is decidedly UN-democratic, with the lower ranks having fewer privileges than the upper ranks. You will also need to keep your hair short.

    If these terms are unacceptable, or worse, you are such a case of arrested development that you will still be crying about them ten years after you separate, you may want to consider another career path. :)

    Nick, I was in EXACTLY your position 20 years ago, and I wish I had gone the military route. Instead, I went to a large state college with an excellent music program and majored in music performance. Despite a complete lack of self-discipline, I managed to get to first chair in the symphonic band and section leader of the marching band before reality set in - there are very few steady gigs for tuba players, even good ones. I eventually dropped out, and a few years later, found myself in the military anyway, doing something totally different. Fortunately, I've been able to hook up with ceremonial bands, help out at the HS etc, which still lets me get my lips on a horn every once in while.

    The odds of getting into a major orchestra are roughly the same as if you were a high school quarterback trying to make an NFL team. There are probably about as many major orchestras as there are pro football teams, and each has ONE tuba chair (the orchestras, not the football teams). And the guy sitting in it ain't leaving til he dies. And when he does, HUNDREDS of guys are going to come out of the woodwork to get the gig, and they are ALL gonna be **** hot. Are you good enough to be the ONE who gets the slot? Be honest with yourself.

    There are of course lesser gigs; local symphonies and theme parks spring to mind. I know there is a guy on the board who plays for a smaller symphony, who may have some insight. As for theme parks, it's practically the same deal as the military (except it's a union), including grooming standards and goofy uniforms (with Disney, it's LITERALLY a Goofy uniform). ;)

    Another thing to think about - horns. A pro-quality CC horn is going to run you around $8K. You got that kinda dough? And you'll need an Eb or F horn too. And lessons; will the school pay for those? Mine did, but you might want to check.

    Here's the biggest drawback about the military IMO - assuming you finish college, after four years you come out with a degree. You'll live better during your four years in the military, but unless you take classes on your own time, you could come out after four years with nothing to show for it but the GI bill (and hopefully better chops). I don't know what the schedule is like as a bandsman, but I imagine touring puts a big crimp in taking classes off duty. Jon, how does that work for you guys? In any case, it will take you longer to get your degree.

    I could go on, but you get the idea. For me, it has all worked out, because I am doing things I could never have dreamed of, and love every minute of it. And I still get to play every once in a while, although my chops are currently @$$. If you played a more versatile instrument, the military option might be more of a Plan B. But as a tuba player, you really gotta be honest with yourself about the availability of jobs. Remember, there are no professional marching bands. :)

    BL: As much fun as it is, don't expect society to reward you for being a band geek unless you give something back to it, besides the occasional pedal Bb and a puddle of spit. :)

    [Edit for spelling, grammar, syntax, flow, smiley usage, etc.]
     
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
     
  16. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Hehehe Brad, do you remember my hair though :D I still haven't gotten it cut since I met you :p In truth though, that is just for the heck of it, I have no real attachment to my hair.


    On the issue of the structure and the rules and regulations of the military, I know them, and I know what is expected. I have many friends and relatives in the military, all branches there of. I know it isn't a cakewalk, and that there are a lot of expectations. I still think that it is one of the best options for me.

    Lump made a really good point... There aren't very many tuba gigs out there, and that is another of my worries. If I make it into the military band, then I have a gig with a steady paycheck unless my lips fall off and I cant play. But the I have bass to fall back on ;)



    Thanks a lot everyone, for your opinions and thoughts. Its great to know that I can come here with a serious issue, and have the people to help me with it :)
     
  17. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I'd answer, but everyone else did such a great job. I've really got nothing to add.

    I was at a gig - thanks guys! It's good to know you've got my back! :D
     
  18. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Sure I remember it. I also remember that you seem a pretty smart guy and not the least bit delusional when I met you. Unless that's changed (;))I don't think you'd consider doing the military thing without considering the obvious:D

    I know hair is very important for some (even 1 and 1/4 inch), for others a career might outweigh that. I can't believe someone was actually bothered by an old guy being allowed to have a combover. I guess he could shave a bald spot and have one too.

    Good luck with whatever you decide, Nick
     
  19. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Thanks a lot Brad :)



    Thanks to everyone, these posts are helping me a lot, and are giving me the information that I really need to know. Thanks!
     
  20. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Brad - Having owned and operated my own business at one time, I can assure you that there is actually more BS in that situation.

    :D

    Nick - From what I'm seeing, Brad's right on target: You seem to be a real smart guy with your head screwed not only on straight, but also good and tight. You'll do what is right for you. I wish I'd been as put together mentally at your age as you are - heck, based on my recent life I wish I were as together now!

    :eek:

    Pac - Hope it was a good gig - it was certainly better than the one I was doing! ;) Always got your back, man. Thanks for all you've done 'round here.