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Around The Fleet

The Sound of Music

Navy Band is entertaining, educating and hiring

Musicians have a proud tradition and a rich history in the Navy. Starting in 1798 when the first ship was put to sea with a fifer and a drummer to present day, where Navy music has grown to 11 fleet bands, the Navy has kept pace to music.

Today' s Navy Bands entertain the masses by playing in parades, sports events and schools to honor the service of past and present military members.

The Navy Band Northeast is one of those fleet bands whose mission is to support active duty Sailors by performing on ships, ceremonies and other official events. The musicians tour nationally and their most recent tour was in celebration of Veterans Day.

"It's a salute to our veterans," said Musician 1st Class Chris Sams, who plays saxophone and sings. "We wanted to show them how much we appreciate the sacrifices that they've made through the years."

The Navy has fleet bands in the continental U.S. as well as Japan, Italy and Hawaii. Musician 2nd Class Cassy DeMoss said that playing to international audiences and traveling has been the highlight of her career.

"Just bringing Navy music and military music to people who have never seen an American before; it's pretty powerful," said DeMoss, who plays flute and piccolo. "People think of the military as guns and ships and war. When we go in with music, we can change minds and change attitudes about the United States and what we do, and what we represent."

Another piece of the Navy music mission is to help promote and foster music education in the United States. The band's high level of training and visibility presents a unique opportunity for educational outreach. The current tour included a stop at a New Jersey High School, where the Sailors worked with younger musicians.

"We did a clinic with the students," said DeMoss. "They're preparing contest pieces that they have to audition for and so we helped them with their pieces. Later we played a concert for them."
Navy Photo

Navy Band Northeast performs prior to kickoff at the New York Jets Salute to Service game at MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Nov. 9. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Matthew Stroup.

For Musician Seaman Joseph Steiner, the experience left him feeling a bit nostalgic.

"I remember what it was like being in school and having professional musicians come and work with us," said Steiner. "They were really excited and sharing their goals and what they wanted to do with us. It was just a great experience."

The last stop on the tour is a marching band performance at the New York Giants game, where Navy Band Northeast teamed up with the U.S. Fleet Forces Command Navy Band to put on a high energy half time show for football fans. Sams, was the drum major for the combined performance, was especially excited about this particular performance.

"The musician community is a really small community; we have 11 fleet bands with approximately 30 to 45 members each," said Sams. "Norfolk is a 60-person band and there are a lot of people there that I've been stationed with before, that I'm looking forward to working with again."

DeMoss said the reason the MU community is so small is because the Navy only recruits about 35 musicians a year.

"The audition process is pretty strict," said DeMoss. "They only want the best of the best."

Though not a requirement, many recruits come in with music degrees or at least extensive training and experience in their instrument. After that, they attend a six-month A-school at the Navy School of Music before they reach their first band.

In addition to large scale performances, the band divides itself into smaller ensembles like a woodwind quintet and a rock band to deliver a variety of sounds to a variety of audiences. It also allows each band member to showcase their unique talent and musical style.

"I personally like jazz a lot," said Sams, who has been playing saxophone for about 20 years. "The guys that I hear playing saxophone that are really the best players out there, they usually play jazz."

Sams added that he really just enjoys playing music in general, no matter what the genre.

Whether they're playing in military ceremonies aboard carriers at sea, public shows, or rocking out in concerts or live broadcasts, most musicians will say they have the most rewarding job in the Navy.

"The fact that I can support my family by playing music professionally, and serving my country at the same time, is perfect," said Steiner. "It's a humbling experience."

There are immediate openings for Navy musicians for the following instruments:

To schedule an audition, email the Navy musician audition coordinator at or call 901-874-4316

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