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195th Army Band Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. How often do you meet?
A. The 195th Army Band typically meets one weekend a month for rehearsals and performances, with a 2 week block of time in the summer. In addition, select extra performances happen during the year. Musicians are compensated for each and every day they serve, and more performances equate to more money and credit toward retirement.
Q. What is a typical weekend meeting like?
A. A typical weekend meeting typically involves concert band rehearsals, small ensemble rehearsals, and select classes on military related topics. In addition, administrative work is accomplished during weekend meetings, and on selected weekends, performances and/or parades may take place. A typical Saturday or Sunday runs from 7:30am to 5:00pm. Typically, no two weekends are the same, and lunch is always included!
Q. What do you do during your two weeks in the summer?
A. The two weeks in the summer are typically spent touring the state of Maine from Kittery to Madawaska. Sometimes we venture out of state for specific performances. We have even done Mardi Gras and the Boston Red Sox game.
Q. Do I have to pay for anything?
A. No! The National Guard provides everything you need to be successful, to include professional quality instrument, supplies, reeds, music, and uniforms. In addition, the Guard covers most travel expenses (except for the cost of commuting to Bangor for weekend assemblies) via an issued government travel credit card.
Q. What types of ensembles does the 195th Army Band have?
A. Currently, the main ensembles of the 195th Army Band include a full concert band, a rock/pop ensemble, a 5 piece jazz combo, brass quintet and sax quartet. Additional ensembles are fielded based on need and mission and change according to personnel.
Q. What other opportunities are there?
A. With experience comes promotions and additional responsibility to include drum majoring, conducting, sound reinforcement, and direct leadership opportunities.
Q. What are the qualifications for membership?
A. You need to be proficient in your instrument. A typical benchmark that a prospective member must play at would be similar to a college freshman music majors, or perhaps within the top 25% of high school musicians. In order to be fully qualified and take advantage of all benefits, you must audition and perform a certain level.
Q. How do I assess my qualifications?
A. You will be auditioned by a senior member of the band. The audition sheets are available on our website. Just type “195th Army Band” into Google and click on “how to join”. More information on auditions can be provided on request.
Q.If I take an audition, do I have to enlist?
A. No, you are under no obligation to enlist.
Q.What happens if I fail the audition?
A. If you fail the audition, you will be told in which areas you need improvement and how you can correct them. You’ll also be informed that you may return at a later date to re-audition. Typically we recommend 30 days between auditions to work on improvements. You may audition as many times as you wish.
Q. What other benefits are there?
A. Standard benefits vary based on availability, but typically can include: Montgomery GI Bill (money for college expenses), tuition assistance (money paid directly to your college/university to cover tuition costs), and student loan repayment. In addition, National Guard Soldiers have the option to buy into the military TRICARE Health Insurance system for themselves and their family for rates much lower than one will find with private insurers. Extremely discounted life insurance is a standard benefit as well. Finally, all National Guard Soldiers have access to military Post Exchanges and Commissaries all over the country/world for discounted and tax free shopping.
Q. I hear you can retire from the National Guard?
A. Yes! Retirement eligibility comes with 20 years of qualified service, and retirement benefit begins at age 60. The amount of retirement pay you draw will depend on the number of years you spend in the Army Reserve. An additional retirement benefit is TRICARE for Life which will serve as a Medicare supplement.
Q. What about training?
A. All Soldiers are required to attend basic training, which is typically 9 weeks long. This is all paid time, and not nearly as scary as you might think. After basic training, members will attend a 10 week course at the Army School of Music, taking part in rehearsals, private lessons, individual practice, music theory/ear training, marching and more. If your schedule does not allow you to do basic training and the school of music in the same year, a “split option” may be available.
Q.What rank will I be?
A. Those who pass the audition may enlist at the advanced pay grade of E-4.
Q.Why are Army musicians enlisted at these advanced grades?
A.To become an Army musician, you must be able to play an instrument proficiently. The Army considers this a Civilian Acquired Skill. This usually means that prior to enlistment; you had many years of training and practice to learn this skill. Your civilian musical training enables you to enlist at these advanced grades.