Fact Checked

What Is a Military Marching Band?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

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 Marine Band is considered the "President's Own" and plays often at the White House.
The United States Marine Band is considered the "President's Own" and plays often at the White House.

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.

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Discussion Comments


@jcraig - They are actually heavily in demand simply due to the fact that they have a unique skill that not many people can do as well as the military is always looking for people to enlist. If they could get someone to do both that is something that causes them to be highly in demand.

I know many people that have joined the military in the past and the deciding factor in their decision is that they were able to join the marching band, because they were heavily in demand.

People that are interested in joining the military and play an instrument should heavily look into joining the marching band in the branch of the military they are interested in simply because they could become a full fledged solider as well as be able to continue their love of music in something that one would not usually associate music with.


@kentuckycat - I absolutely agree. The whole mission of the marching bands of most militaries is to present their country and their branch in such a way that is deemed to be acceptable in formal gatherings.

I have always felt that military marching bands provide something extra to the occasion and allow that particular branch of the military to be completely to be represented in such a matter that is befitting of the country as well as the military in general.

These servicemen and woman are people that provide their perspective branches of the military with a service that only they can provide and it is unique enough that their skills are required to serve their country in such a way.

What I would like to know is what exactly one has to do in order to become a member of a marching band in the military and how in demand these people are?


@Izzy78 - To be totally honest I am sure that there are some soldiers that think negatively towards the members of the marching band, but it is not like the members of the marching band are just people playing instruments, they are in fact real full fledged members of the military that have to go through the same training that all the servicemen have to go through.

The only difference between them and say a regular infantry soldier is that they have a unique ability to play an instrument and present the military in official gatherings and celebrations in a manner befitting the military in an appropriate way.

A regular person cannot simply play an instrument, they have to be trained in order to do so and these members of the military are people like this that serve their country in this way as well as occasionally becoming involved in combat situations.


I have always thought that the aspect of military bands is quite unique basically because it is an art that is integrated into a type of profession that revolves around physicality and fighting.

I feel like military marching bands are something that does not seem to fit in the military at least in the minds of most people as art mixed with the physical nature of the military seem to conflict with each other.

I have always wondered how highly the military takes their perspective marching bands and at least internally how much these people are respected among their fellow military comrades and if they are considered outsiders to the more popularly known soldiers in the military?

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    • The United States Marine Band is considered the "President's Own" and plays often at the White House.
      By: camrocker
      The United States Marine Band is considered the "President's Own" and plays often at the White House.