Royal Navy Musician

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Ann Jones is a musician in the Royal Marines Band where she plays all types of music, not just military. She combines her role in the band with being a casualty handler when in battle.

What do you play?

I play the flute and saxophone in one of the five Royal Marine Bands. We play different styles of music – it is not all military. However, much of what we do is ceremonial. We wear our full regalia and have to play and march at the same time. That's hard at first, but it gets easier with practice.

Can you describe a typical day?

That's something I like about the job – no two days are the same. If we are doing a symphony concert we might spend all day rehearsing. Travelling to and from engagements can mean some long days and late nights. If we are performing late in the evening we may get the next morning off.

What do you do when the Marines are involved in a battle?

We all have an operational role. I am a casualty handler, trained in stretcher bearing, first aid and how to use a weapon. I spent some time on a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship in the Gulf dealing with Iraqi civilian casualties brought onto the ship by helicopter. We also took our instruments and played on ships to entertain the troops. We play all types of music and form smaller groups.

What made you want to join the Band?

My father played in the Guards band and he took me to a concert by the Royal Marines. I saw there were women in the band and thought that I could do that. It's the only way that women can join the Royal Marines. There are about 15 women in our 90-strong band. I had to audition as well as passing a medical and an interview.

What training have you had?

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The first 15 weeks involved basic military training – with no music involved at all. We were in a mixed troop, but we were all musicians. It was hard work – a lot of physical training, and we had to learn how to handle a weapon and carry a Bergen pack. There were several exercises where we spent four or five nights out in the field.

Then, I did two-and-a-half years of music training at the Royal Marines School of Music. Alongside this we still did a lot of fitness training and sport.

What do you like about your job?

It's exhilarating to play a good concert in front of a receptive audience. I've had some unique experiences – I was part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations outside Buckingham Palace. And I've been on tours to interesting places such as America, Ireland and France.

Ann's tips

  • Learn a second musical instrument so you can offer a wide choice of skills.
  • Don't neglect your education while training as a musician.

Becoming a Royal Navy Musician

  • Basic training is followed by a 2 year 8 month musical training course.
  • Musical training includes individual tuition, aural training, orchestral instrumental practice, band instrumental practice, band (marching and playing), choir practice and regular instrumental exams.
  • Completion of the course allows you to join your first band as a fully fledged Royal Marines musician and puts you on track for the BMus (Hons) degree.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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