Vol. 1 | No. 9 | By Grecia Melendez
Do you ever stop and wonder why there are military bands? Maybe you have seen an advertisement for an upcoming concert in your community featuring an Army Band, or perhaps seen the Marine Band performing during the Presidential Inauguration earlier this year. Wherever you may have encountered a military band, whether in person or through media engagement, I’m sure you have noticed the following: they’re military, they wear the uniform, and they inspire a sense of patriotism in you.
Why do we have military bands? There are over a hundred military bands stationed throughout the continental United States and the world, and they all serve nearly the same purpose. When these military bands perform, they have three main goals: they inspire a new generation of military service, they connect with the public to honor service and sacrifice, and they serve to boost the morale of the troops wherever they are, including those stationed overseas. By representing their branch of service, military bands tell their story and mission, which can inspire young people to want to answer their call to service in the military. This tradition can be traced back to the early history of the United States about military service and recruitment.
With careful programing, military bands can honor the service of current and past military members. In public concerts, the performance of Service Branch songs and other patriotic melodies honors both the members and families that are either currently in service, have completed their service, or have made their ultimate sacrifice. In military functions, bands provide musical support to honor traditions from funerals to change of commands to retirement ceremonies. Boosting troop morale is another important aspect of a military band’s mission. They provide musical entertainment to improve morale within the service. You’ve often heard about service members deploying overseas to complete their mission. Well, military bands stationed overseas can also provide musical support to troops in the form of small combos or rock bands. Playing pop tunes and other crowd favorites brings a piece of home to our troops stationed abroad.
Although military bands all share a similar mission, their status in service can vary. There are premier military bands, which are typically stationed near the capital of the United States and serve at higher functions for high dignitaries including the President of the United States. Active-duty military bands serve their local area at the unit level. Reserve and National Guard military bands serve at the smallest level where they continue to reach their local area but do so on a more part-time basis.
Military bands are versatile in their function. They can switch from performing ceremonial functions to public concerts with crowd favorite songs. A band can pull off many settings including small combos, rock bands, and full concert and jazz bands. Be on the lookout for your local military band to witness their great work and versatility.