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Job description

Musicians provide musical support for all aspects of military life, including ceremonial parades, military graduations, and ship ceremonies. They provide quality music designed to support Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) operations, foster morale and esprit de corps, and to promote Canadian aesthetics and values, both nationally and abroad.

The primary responsibilities of Musicians are to:

  • Perform for a wide array of domestic and international engagements including:
    • Government and military parades and ceremonies
    • Public concerts, shows and festivals, public events
    • Military and state dinners
  • Perform as instrumentalists and conductors in various musical:
    • Concert Bands
    • Parade Band
    • Stage Bands
    • Dance Bands
    • Pipe and Drum Bands
    • Brass Quintets
    • Woodwind Quintets
    • String Quartets
    • Jazz Combos
    • Small Chamber Groups




CHADDOCK: If you want to be a working musician, there’s no better place to do it.

COVLIN: This is literally the best gig out there in Canada for musicians.


COVLIN: Well, traditionally we conceive of the marching band as being some type of band marching down the street, playing only anthems, but it’s in fact evolved considerably in the last 50 years.

CHADDOCK: The variety is limitless in this job. Many people in the band play in the stage band as well as the concert band, as well the jazz band.

COVLIN: We perform a wide variety of styles and music and we are getting more and more people from very diverse backgrounds auditioning for our bands and that’s a real strength.

Hi I’m Petty Officer 2nd Class Kris Covlin. I’m originally from Edmonton, Alberta and I’m a musician with the Canadian Forces.

I decided to join the Forces because I wanted to be able to survive as a musician to a level that I hadn’t before been able to afford. Even some other professional musicians who have full-time gigs struggle to find enough gigs to support themselves and also struggle to bring the music that they love to the public, and in the military we have a lot more time to do this and a lot more time to be able to rehearse and to be able to properly entertain people.

CHADDOCK: It’s a great job. I’ve been in since 2002 and I love it. I’m Sergeant Charmaine Chaddock and I’m from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and I play flute & picollo.

I look through my photo albums at home every once in awhile and I’m amazed at how many places I’ve been so far, even since 2002. I’ve only been in a few years. I can’t even count the experiences I’ve had in this job.

COVLIN: Musicians perform a unique and vital role in the Canadian Forces.

We serve all elements, Navy, Army and Air Force, fostering esprit de corps in our members and a sense of national pride in audiences throughout Canada and around the world.

CHADDOCK: We’re often the only face of the military that the general public ever gets to see.

You have to be prepared to perform in settings as diverse as the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa, to the International Military Tattoos in places like Halifax and Quebec City, which celebrate the diversity and talent of military bands from all over the world.

We’re cultural ambassadors both at home and overseas.

COVLIN: I’ve been invited to many conferences around the world to perform as a guest artist and many people within the band have received similar opportunities. Some people might think that, when you get into a military band, that you really have to give up a lot of gigs, and I would say quite the contrary – that while I’ve given up some gigs locally, it’s enabled me to do the things that really matter to me on an international scale.

CHADDOCK: I’ve been to France twice, I’ve been to Holland and I know that, although I’m relatively young in this career, I know that I will be travelling to many other locations around the world.

You’re always performing and you’re always making people happy. We get to perform for so many people, so many Canadians, and so many dignitaries and guests from all over the world.

COVLIN: And of course unsubstantiated reports of celebrities, but that’s always fun to think who could be out there in the audience.


Joining a military band isn’t so different from getting any other gig.

You need to be an accomplished, multitalented performer.

if you’re career’s just getting started, you can apply to join a Reserve Force band while you’re still in high school or university.

It’s a great part-time job where you’ll actually get paid to learn and develop your musical talent.

You can earn money during the year and there is great potential for summer employment and a subsidy towards your university education.

COVLIN: The selection panel is made up of senior Canadian Forces musicians and recruiting representatives.

And, as every accomplished musician knows, you’re only as good as your demo tape.

If the selection panel likes what they hear, you’ll be invited to audition.

And it’s not just about your musical talent. Before you’re offered a job you’ll be interviewed to make sure you’re right for the position you auditioned for.

CHADDOCK: As a Musician your military career will start in the same place it does for everyone else, with the basic military qualification course or BMQ.

COVLIN: Once you’ve completed your BMQ you’ll be posted to one of six regular force bands.

All Canadian Forces bands are administered, managed and directed by us, the musicians, so you’ll also receive specialized on-the-job training in military band drill, band administration and operations.

So there’s always an opportunity to train & re-train to fulfill other functions in the band. There’s lots of specialty courses, recording courses, conducting courses, arranging courses within the band trade. And those are available to anyone that’s interested and motivated to do them.

CHADDOCK: We’re provided with the best instruments and sound equipment available, as well as personal practice facilities and rehearsal space.

All your courses and expenses are covered, and you’re on salary the whole time.

You have the freedom to focus on developing your talent without having to worry about where your next paycheque is coming from.

For a musician, it doesn’t get much better than this.

COVLIN: I’m allowed to express my passions and make music on a daily basis, and that’s really important to me.

CHADDOCK: If you’re a professional musician, and you want to expand your career and work with some of the best musicians in Canada, this is definitely where you want to be.




Working environment

As ambassadors of goodwill, Musicians will perform throughout the world representing the CAF and the citizens of Canada. While on duty with a Regular Force band, personnel could find themselves in a wide variety of performing environments and venues, from performances in concert halls to providing musical support at ceremonial parades, all of which are integral parts of the military Musician’s life.

The Regular Force bands are:

  • The Stadacona Band of the Maritime Forces Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • The Naden Band of the Maritime Forces Pacific, Victoria, British Columbia
  • The Royal Canadian Artillery Band, Edmonton, Alberta
  • The Royal 22e Régiment Band, Courcelette, Quebec
  • The Central Band of the Canadian Forces, Ottawa, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Air Force Band, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Musician is $57,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. This military occupation offers many unique opportunities for qualified professional musicians. Excellent musical training or experience is provided in the six professional Forces bands. In addition, military Musicians enjoy many exciting travel experiences.

CAF bands are administered, managed and directed by CAF musicians. Opportunities to explore and expand on a music career are practically limitless. Musicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.

Related civilian occupations

  • Instrumental Musician
  • Band or Orchestra Leader
  • Singer
  • Arranger or Composer

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Basic military qualification

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Forces physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Specialty training

Musicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Voluntary Band Instructor
  • Pipe Major course
  • Pipe Drum Instructor course
  • Drum Major course

Advanced training

As they progress in their career, Musicians who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Basic scoring and conducting
  • Intermediate scoring and conducting
  • Advanced scoring and conducting

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Entry plans

Now hiring: we are now accepting applications for this job through direct entry.

Required education

The CAF enrols skilled Musicians through a competitive blind audition process to fill periodic vacancies.  Competitions are held periodically for available positions in the six Regular Force bands. Successful applicants have typically been experienced, professional musicians, many of them having a degree in Music Performance, Conservatory or University Certification, or equivalent professional musical experience.

Musicians must be multi-talented performers with experience in several musical styles, and must be able to adapt to all types of performance situations and to diverse audiences.

For more information about the application process or the audition procedure, please contact the Musician Branch at:

1-705-424-1200, ext. 1388

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Part-time option

This occupation is available part-time within the following environments: Navy, Army, Air Force

Serve with the Reserve Force

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at an Air Force Wing in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Part-time employment

Musicians may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army or Royal Canadian Air Force. They are employed to provide musical support for CAF events and operations. Musicians employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at a military base, wing, home port or ship located within Canada.

Reserve Force training

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic military training, qualified professional musicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills and advanced training through formal courses and on-the-job training.

Working environment

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.

Get started!

Find a unit in your area and start the application process for part-time employment now.

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The CAF Music Branch announces a national audition competition for full time-time positions in the Regular Force military bands:

General Application Information

  • Applicant must be a Canadian Citizen.
  • Skilled and experienced on primary instrument.
  • Skilled and experienced in playing various styles of music is a valuable asset.
  • Secondary instrument skill unrelated to primary instrument family (e.g. A Clarinetist demonstrating skills on guitar or popular voice) is a valuable asset
  • Musicians rate of pay
  • Benefits to include paid vacation, health and dental coverage, pension plan, group insurance, parental leave and family support services.

Important dates

For audition requirements and details, please consult our website, or contact us at: 1-866-991-0422 or by email.

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