Music

If you’re musical or you would like to learn to play an instrument or can sing you could train to become a musician.

Music and bands are very much an integral part of the Air Cadet Experience. 497 Squadron is one of relatively few Squadron’s to have a small band and group of musicians. They regularly attend public events including Remembrance and other Parades, either playing solo or as part of a concert band, potentially playing to audiences of hundreds. Band members are regularly invited to participate in many charity and ex-service organisation functions possibly the most prestigious of which is being given the honour to lead contingents during Remembrance Day parades.The Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing also hold a band competition each year during the Wing Training Day.

Getting involved in music is a great way of socialising and of promoting the ACO wherever you play to the public. If you show real talent you could take your playing to the next level in wing or regional bands. Ultimately, you could join the National Concert Band – where our best players perform at public events often at some very prestigious locations, including Buckingham Palace!

Every year Music Camps are arranged at all levels of the organisation. The first Air Cadet National Concert Band camp of the year usually takes place during the school half-term holiday in February. The Camp is arranged by Air Cadets HQ and takes the form of a week’s work experience with one of the two professional RAF Bands based at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire: the Band of the RAF College or the Band of the RAF Regiment. Sharing a stage with the best musicians in the RAF is a priceless experience! Throughout the remainder of each year further Concert Band camps take place, normally linked to a specific event. In addition, Marching Band camps take place (again linked to specific events) where our best musicians are given the opportunity of demonstrating their skills to the public. The musical year culminates with a competition to find the best solo performers, ensembles and marching bands in the organisation. Competition is fierce for those wanting to prove that they are the best!

Some of our young musicians had never played a musical instrument before joining the Squadron band. Weeks of hard work and dedication is finally rewarded when they reach the required standard and are presented with their musician’s badges.

Our band plays a variety of musical instruments and our Cadets often lend support to other Squadrons, who may have a Corps of Drums, full marching band or ensemble group, made up of various instruments. Either way, there are many ways you can get involved in music on the Squadron. We have particularly strong voice and percussion sections!

You may already be good at an instrument, but don’t worry if you’re new to playing music – if you have talent we’ll help you make the most of it. Here are some standard band instruments (but other instruments may be catered for too):

  • Saxophones
  • Bugles
  • Cornets & Trumpets
  • Trombones
  • Basses
  • Cymbals
  • Side drum
  • Bass drum

The band is open to all cadets!

There are a number of badges available to cadets who are either active members of a Squadron (or higher eg Wing or Regional) band, or who have reached Grade 5 (Practical) on a specific instrument. The criteria for active band members are summarised below:

Brass Players

  • Perform an ascending and descending scale.
  • Perform General Salute, Last Post, Reveille and Sunset.
  • Perform (solo) three marches, as played regularly by the band to which the cadet belongs.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of drill and dress regulations for bandsmen.
  • Demonstrate correct instrument handling and maintenance.

Percussionist (Untuned)

  • Perform (on a snare drum) double stroke roll, triplet, paradiddle, flam and drag.
  • Perform General Salute, Sunset and four different 16-beat solos.
  • Perform (solo) three marches, as played regularly by the band to which the cadet belongs.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of drill and dress regulations for bandsmen.
  • Demonstrate correct instrument handling and maintenance.

Percussionist (Tuned)

  • Perform three of the following scales (ascending and descending): C major (two octaves), Bb major, D major, D harmonic minor, E harmonic minor.
  • Perform General Salute, Last Post, Reveille and Sunset.
  • Perform (solo) three marches, as played regularly by the band to which the cadet belongs.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of drill and dress regulations for bandsmen.
  • Demonstrate correct instrument handling and maintenance.

Piper

  • Perform a scale, ascending and descending.
  • Perform the following gracenotes: G, D gracenote and strike, E and high A, throw on D. You can do these on a chanter.
  • Perform (solo) three marches, as played regularly by the band to which the cadet belongs.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of drill and dress regulations for bandsmen.
  • Demonstrate correct instrument handling and maintenance.

Other Instruments

  • Perform three ascending and descending scales commonly used for the instrument being played.
  • Perform General Salute, Last Post, Reveille and Sunset.
  • Perform (solo) three marches, as played regularly by the band to which the cadet belongs.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of drill and dress regulations for bandsmen.
  • Demonstrate correct instrument handling and maintenance.
  • If a cadet plays in one of the National bands, they are eligible for a gold version of their respective badge. This shows that they have performed at a National level.

Elevation to Drum Major and Pipe Major may be achieved following attendance on appropriate courses.

Drum Major Pipe Major

Cadets are also pursuing the BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Music are also offered the opportunity and support to complete the award, through close links with CVQO.

For further details – see BTEC qualification in Music.

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