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Thread: Navy Band Auditions

  1. #1

    Default Navy Band Auditions

    Hello everyone. I am a Junior in High school, and I am planning on auditioning with the Navy Band. I will be auditioning on clarinet, and saxophone. Part of my requirement for the audition is to prepare a solo piece that is grade 5. I am mostly a Jazz player, and I would like some help as to what can I play. May any of you help me out by giving me some Jazz tunes that are grade 5 suggestions? Thank you.

    P. S. If any of you are Navy Band veterans, may you give me some tips as in what to expect, and what are the auditions looking for? My dream is to join the Navy Commodores, but I have to make the Music program first. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Member Agent27's Avatar
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    Default Re: Navy Band Auditions

    When they say Grade 5, they mean a classical solo. Grade 5 means different things in different places (in Texas, we'd call it Grade I). Basically, it means something that would be considered the highest grade for things like All State auditions. They want a concerto or a technical movement and a lyrical movement (usually the 2nd movement) from a sonata. Or something you'd use for a college audition. Something from the standard repertoire like the Glazunov or Creston is what they're looking for. The audition is basically a prepared classical solo, scales, arpeggios, and sight reading which may or may not include jazz. You might be able to get away with a technical etude and a lyrical etude out of the Ferling 48 Studies book.

    There may be exceptions, but I wouldn't count on it. A buddy of mine played just Charlie Parker's "Chi Chi" solo out of the Omnibook. No classical. I wouldn't count on them letting you do that though. SOTW member Andrew, who was a jazz studies major at North Texas, auditioned on the first 2 movements of the Creston Sonata I believe.

    Also, the doubling requirement is out. Before, saxophonists also had to audition on flute or clarinet and vice versa. That's no longer the case. As I understand it, dropping that requirement has made the auditions more competitive because sax players who don't double and were being scared off are now able to audition. Likewise, they're attracting better flute and clarinet players who never felt the need to learn to play saxophone as well. You're still free to audition on a secondary instrument if you wish, but you'll still have to pass auditions on it as when when you're at the school of music. Having a secondary instrument may increase the number of duty stations available to you, making it more likely you're assigned to a base of your preference. The downside is that you may be stuck playing clarinet most of the time.

    On one hand, it seems like things have gotten tough. Some college graduates don't even pass the audition. On the other hand, a guy I went to school with joined the Navy with the intent to become a Seal but he couldn't make it through training. Seals train in San Diego where they also happen to have a band. He auditioned and got in. Keep in mind, this was after 10 weeks of boot camp and at least a couple of weeks of Seal training, all that time away from the horn. Not exactly the ideal preparation for an audition. Now, he was a good player to begin with, but under those conditions, it gives the impression that the audition isn't so hard after all. Of course, that was before they dropped the doubling requirement too.

  3. #3
    Distinguished SOTW Member CooolJazzz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Navy Band Auditions

    Agent27 summarized it quite well.
    I can only speak from my experience as an Army Bandsman...(over 30 years ago at that)...but Army, Navy, and Marine bands all function pretty much the same way. In fact...all Army, Navy, and Marine musicians still go to the same Armed Forces School of Music after basic training...located at the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base in Virginia.

    As Agent27 mentioned...you'll need to show strong technical skills on the classical side. Once you're in the band program, your jazz skills will help get you into the jazz combos or big bands, but unless you get into one of the elite bands, you'll still be required to perform in the symphonic/concert bands on a regular basis, as well as marching in hundreds (if not thousands) of military style parades. It's a demanding job, and you can expect to be working as hard as any full-time professional musician out there...(harder than most, usually). A normal day may include a military ceremony in the morning...a parade and/or jazz band gig in the afternoon...and a full concert band performance in the evening. That would be a relatively easy day. I remember playing three or four jobs in three different States on numerous occasions...(Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania)...all in the same day. We'd get on the buses at 6:00AM and roll back in around 2:00AM the next morning.

    Military bandsmen have to be extremely well-rounded as musicians. Very few have the luxury of specializing in just jazz or just concert music. There are some elite bands in the military that are much more specialized...such as the Commodores and the Army Blues...but only the best of the best qualify to even audition for those. Many people in the regular military bands wait years for an opportunity to get into one of the elite...or "Special Bands", as I believe they're still called. By the way...I'm sure doubling is still REQUIRED for those special jazz bands...but not for the regular military bands. In the regular bands, each instrument has its own MOS...(Military Occupational Specialty).

    If you consider yourself mostly a jazz player...and if you're serious about getting into the Navy band program...I would suggest a strong focus on your classical (legit) studies between now and then. Know all of your scales inside and out...and do as much sight reading as you can. Those things will be deal breakers. Your jazz skills will come into play after you're in...but jazz skills alone won't be enough to get you in.

    EDIT:
    I just found a website that should be very helpful...
    http://www.npc.navy.mil/CommandSuppo...Music/FAQs.htm

    #11 in the FAQ does mention the possibility of including a jazz selection in your audition...(even mentions playing a standard along with an Aebersold CD)...but that's an option that is up to you. It won't replace the requirement for a Grade 5 prepared solo (classical). It also indicates that the sight reading may include jazz ensemble literature...but my personal guess is that it will be primarily marches, classical etudes, and wind ensemble material.

    (To be on the safe side...make sure you learn the first alto part for "Hut of the Baba Yaga" from "Pictures at an Exhibition". That's been part of the sight reading material for just about every audition I ever went on...including my Army Band audition).

    One more thing I might add. It may sound nit-picky...but you might want to be careful about saying that you are auditioning for the Navy Band. The Navy Band is the Elite band of the Navy...stationed at Washington, DC. The Commodores are one of the elite sub-groups within that band. Auditioning for the Navy band program is an entirely different thing than auditioning for THE Navy Band. I knew what you meant of course...but when you approach the Navy about an audition, it would be a good idea to make it clear that you know the difference. It's a matter of extreme pride for the people in The Navy Band to be able to say they're in THE Navy Band...and not just any Navy band. Making that distinction is a matter of respect. Just sayin'...

  4. #4
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician Grumps's Avatar
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    Default Re: Navy Band Auditions

    If anyone interested in this topic lives near Virginia, there's going to be a lecture (1/8/11 12:30pm) on the subject of winning an audition for a DC military band at the Sax Symposium set for Jan. 7th and 8th, 2011 at GMU in Fairfax Virginia:

    http://www.navyband.navy.mil/saxophone_symposium.shtml

    Saturday night Brandford Marsalis performs with the Commodores as well. And most importantly, all performances and events are FREE!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Navy Band Auditions

    Thank you very much with all the imformation you have given me. I will most definatley keep in mind about the differences with the Navy band, and THE Navy band. Respect is very important to me, and I will be sure to show that respect to the Navy. Thank you.

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    Default Re: Navy Band Auditions

    Dear Bro. Esparza,
    I see some good threads on here. I wish you Godspeed. You will do it. Let us know the results. Thank you guys for inspiring him. This is what our young people need, truly. I attended college where my first professor insulted me and beat me down. I see some rotten high educators. The young man is making a wise choice. The Navy will give him the opportunity for better in edcuation and career.

  7. #7
    Distinguished SOTW Member CooolJazzz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Navy Band Auditions

    Quote Originally Posted by keithsy View Post
    ...The young man is making a wise choice. The Navy will give him the opportunity for better in education and career.
    Indeed. If he makes it into a Navy band straight out of high school, the education will just be starting compared to what he's experienced so far in public schools. My advice would be to remember that it's much more than a job. The educational opportunities are there on a daily basis...and I don't just mean formal education opportunities...which in themselves are some of the better benefits of the military.

    The opportunities I'm referring to are the opportunities to learn on a daily basis from everyone around you. You may learn more about the saxophone (and music in general) in a few weeks of sitting next to some of the older and more experienced players than you learned in a year of high school band. The key is to not just show up for work every day and play the music in front of you...but to keep your eyes, your ears, and your mind open to learning new things each and every time you sit down with your fellow bandsmen. Too many people make the mistake of just floating through on a daily basis...not realizing or acknowledging the wealth of talent and knowledge surrounding them. It's a terrible waste if that happens because it's free for the taking. All you have to do is acknowledge that it's there and take advantage of it.

    The formal education opportunities are also great. I would advise taking advantage of as many as possible WHILE you're in the service...and not wait until after you get out to go to school on the G.I. Bill (if that's what they still call it). I've known many people who got college degrees while in the active military. It's just a matter of deciding to do it instead of spending all of your free time horsing around and blowing off steam. There's time enough for that...but it's a shame to have all those opportunities available and not take advantage of them.

  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Member nitrosax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Navy Band Auditions

    Military band auditions are no joke--High standards and a heck of a lot of competition. Expect the hardest stuff to show up on the audition. Be versatile. Know different styles. Doubling is a huge PLUS. Expect them to purposely make the room really really hot (over 95 degrees) or really really cold (below 50 degrees). Expect them to give you music that is barely legible to sight-read. Military band auditions are tough dude. Practice hard.

    Best of luck!

    Ryan

  9. #9

    Default Re: Navy Band Auditions

    I'll start off by saying that what Clayton (Agent27) and CooolJazzz said is basically what you need to know. I was a Jazz major at UNT and I ended up having to play a few classical pieces at the audition. HOWEVER, I also demonstrated my jazz playing as well. The Navy Music Program is looking for extremely versatile musicians. They want to make sure that you are not a one dimensional musician because we play every style imaginable. Make sure you know all your scales (majors and minors) extremely well. Prepare a few selections from some standard classical literature (Creston Sonata, Ibert Concerto, etc). And, be prepared to sightread a ton of music ... everything from marches, to big band section parts, to classical literature. I am one of the people here at my Navy Band that handles saxophone auditions. I can tell you that the standard of acceptance is high. The one thing to remember ... just prepare your stuff to perfection and practice SIGHTREADING. If you can do that, you should not have too much else to worry about.

    If you (or ANYONE) has any specific questions about the Navy Music Program (auditions, lifestyle, etc.) please don't hesitate to PM me! I will be glad to explain anything and everything you need to know.
    Andrew Francisco
    www.andrewfrancisco.com

  10. #10
    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Navy Band Auditions

    Andrew, just an aside story. When I was preparing to audition for an Air Force band on trumpet, Norman Baltazar (Gabe's brother) loaned me his ripped-off Navy big band lead trpt. book - sucker must've been four inches thick - and told me that this was what the military bands were interested in for new recruits.

    So for about three weeks, I worked on all the lead parts. Then when I went to an Air Force band to audition, the first thing the auditioner did was to open the Arban's book to the back where all the technical, character studies were. He then cherry picked more technical exercises.

    Then they told me the trumpet slots were all closed and could I play French horn, which I said "yes" to. So the first thing they gave me to play was the Overture to Act III of Lohengrin. Then some more legit horn parts. Actually, I got the French horn gig but I played not one note of jazz or big band music. Thanks Norman, LOL!
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Navy Band Auditions

    Ha! That's crazy! Talk about helpin' ya out :P
    Andrew Francisco
    www.andrewfrancisco.com

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