I just wanted to take a moment to clarify what my audition is for on Monday…a lot of people are asking me because I am already in the Navy. I am actually auditioning for a separate, premiere ensemble that is based out of Washington, DC. Here is the difference:
The program I auditioned and got accepted into, and now waiting to start is the Navy Music Program. The Navy Music Program is basically accepting any musician that is qualified enough to pass the audition, and there doesn’t need to be a specific spot open for that instrument. The audition consists of some loose guidelines, but basically the applicant can play pretty much whatever they want, and the time/place of the audition is flexible. After a successful audition, the musician is then processed and enlists just like any other future sailor as an E-1 (no college experience), E-2 (some college), or E-3 (college degree – that’s me). That person ships off to boot camp for 8 weeks, and after that gets to go to “A” school for 3-6 months. Its not until this is completed that they get assigned to a band – there are 11 different fleet bands that a Navy musician can be assigned to (including 3 that are abroad!). And that person is subject to being assigned to a different band every 3-4 years, depending on the needs of the Navy. Still a great opportunity! But here’s something that’s even better…
The audition I’m taking on Monday is for the U.S. Navy Band. You can only get into this ensemble if you win a posted audition, which doesn’t happen unless there is a spot available. The time of the audition is non-negotiable, and it usually takes place at the Washington Navy Yard in DC, which is also non-negotiable (no sending CDs – and you have to pay your own travel expenses). The repertoire is also specifically provided, usually a solo and then a series of excerpts taken from orchestral and band repertoire. They will usually only select as many players as they have spots available, which is usually just one. The audition is almost always conducted like a typical orchestral audition with a screen and rounds. For those who make it though this rigorous process and are selected to be in the band, they still have to be qualified to enlist in the Navy and go through boot camp. But they are exempt from the “A” school and get to report directly to the Navy Band after they finish basic training, which is a plus. Also, it is a permanent assignment, which means that the person gets to stay in DC for their entire career if they want to, they will never be relocated to a different band. Oh yeah, and all Navy Band musicians get an E-6 rating straight out of boot camp. Just to put it in perspective, two out of the four recruiters in my recruiting office are only E-5s, and they each have several years in the Navy under their belt. Soooo, winning this audition will be totes amazing.
Usually, Navy musicians in the Fleet bands are allowed to audition for the Navy Band in DC, but in order to be invited to the audition they need a letter from their commander giving them permission. And usually to get this permission they have to do a pre-audition with their commander to see if they can actually win the audition. My situation is unique because I haven’t been assigned to a band yet, so I’m free to audition since there isn’t any conflict of interest (I actually made sure it was ok with all the higher ups in Navy Music).
So I hope this makes things a little more clear to what I’m doing on Monday. I will probably post one more blog before I leave, just because I’m a nerd and enjoy writing about clarinet. And its usually what I do in my practice breaks, haha!