A military marching band is made up of service members who play musical instruments. Commonly made up of enlisted men and women who have played with high school and other various types of marching bands, a military marching band allows the soldiers to continue with their love of music while also serving their country. While many military schools and forces have their own military marching band, in the United States, the Army employs approximately 4,000 to 5,000 musicians. This figure makes the United States Army the largest employer of musicians in the country.
The primary duty of a military marching band is to provide entertainment for military events. Whether the event is a large or small gathering, the military marching band commonly plays upbeat and patriotic musical selections intended to bolster the spirits of the gathering. Many military academies have their own version of a military marching band to play during home football games and to march in local and national parades. Holidays and election days are prime events for the band to make an appearance. Another function of the military band is to prime the atmosphere of recruiting events, as this typically adds to the patriotism felt by attendees of the events.
The United States' presidential version of the military marching band is commonly filled by members of the band who show exemplary talent, appearance and military presence. This specific military band plays at the various parties and events held in the Capitol and at the White House. Offering entertainment for visiting dignitaries and heads of state, the marching band is typically asked to play certain renditions of music that are native to the visitor's homeland. This is often meant as a sign of respect for the visitor's country and culture.
It is common for most members of any military marching band to be schooled in the art of warfare and combat and the typical band member is also qualified to fire a weapon and serve as a member of the military's fighting forces. Members of military marching bands enjoy many perks and benefits as part of the nation's armed forces, including eligibility for military discounts.
Besides performing for on-post events and parades, the military marching band is often asked to participate in many civilian parades, holiday celebrations and other events all across the country. It is not uncommon for several military bands to combine forces and put on a multi-branch musical performance for special occasions, such as Independence Day celebrations in the United States. Occasionally, members of two or more governments' military bands will merge to perform at multi-cultural events or historic reenactments.