The Military’s Best

Each branch of military has its own special band or bands, whose mission is to promote national pride and foster patriotism. Unlike individual unit-level bands, these groups won’t be deployed overseas and are made up of some of the nation’s elite musicians based on a rigorous audition process. Here are 11 military groups designated as premier bands:

U.S. Air Force Band: comprises approximately 220 musicians in seven performing ensembles, including the ceremonial brass, concert band and a jazz band called the “Airmen of Note.”

U.S. Air Force Academy Band: strives to enhance esprit de corps, increase public awareness of the Air Force and encourage enlistment in the Air Force.

The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own”: involves eight individual performing groups, including a concert band, herald trumpets, a chorus and even a pop music group, the Army Band plays concerts both in the United States and occasionally overseas.

U.S. Army Field Band: maintains four individual ensembles and may be on tour within the United States or internationally more than six months out of the year.

U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps: performs at historical events and parades, harkening back to the days of the Revolutionary War with musicians who wear replica uniforms of those worn in George Washington’s Continental Army.

U.S. Military Academy Band (West Point): consists of four units—the Concert Band, Hellcats (a drum and bugle marching unit), Jazz Knights and a support staff—all of which combine to form a marching band.

U.S. Coast Guard Band: represents the Coast Guard as well as the Homeland Security Division while performing at government functions and tours throughout the United States.

“The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band: founded in 1798 as the nation’s oldest professional music organization, the band performs in and around Washington, D.C., including at the White House with as many as 500 public performances each year. It is made up of the U.S. Marine Band, Orchestra and Chamber Ensembles.

“The Commandant’s Own” U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps: performs public exhibitions in the United States and abroad, in the vein of youth drum corps organizations.

U.S. Navy Band: consists of seven performing groups ranging from the concert and ceremonial bands to “Country Current,” a country/bluegrass group.

U.S. Naval Academy Band: grown from one fifer and drummer when the Academy was founded in 1845 to an organization encompassing nine performing groups, including a marching band.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” All rights reserved.

About author

Eddie Carden

Eddie Carden is an editorial intern for Halftime Magazine. He is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California (USC), with a major in public relations and neuroscience. He has been playing the trumpet since the fifth grade and served last year as the drum major for the USC “Spirit of Troy” Trojan Marching Band.

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