Marine Corps Band:  (excerpt from Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines, copyright 2001 Marion F. Sturkey) 

   The armies of the ancient Greeks and Romans knew their stuff.  Their military drummers dictated cadence -- and, perhaps confidence -- as their legions marched into combat.  By the 1700s in Europe and America, fifers added "fighting spirit" as they accompanied the military drummers.

   The U.S. Marine Corps drummers and fifers evolved into the U.S. Marine Corps Band, the oldest musical organization in the United States.  On 11 July 1798 the U.S. President, John Adams, signed a congressional act that formalized the band members as "a drum major, a fife major, and thirty-two drums and fifes."  There was no war at the time, so the band concentrated on its music.  They held their first documented concert in Washington on 21 August 1800.  By December of that year their inventory of instruments had expanded to include two oboes, two clarinets, two French horns, and a bassoon.  During the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, he declared the new Marine Band to be "The President's Own," a term that has survived for two centuries.

   The Marine Band performs at all Presidential Inaugurations and at numerous ceremonial functions of State at the White House and elsewhere.  During the summer months it entertains weekly at the famed Sunset Parade at the Marine Barracks in Washington and on the steps of the Capitol Building.  When on tour the band performs at locations throughout the United States.  John Philip Sousa, the most famous Bandmaster, composed Semper Fidelis, later adopted as the official musical March of the Marine Corps.

   Musicians are currently selected through an audition process similar to that of major symphony orchestras.  Those selected must also pass a physical examination -- it is still the Marine Corps, troops!  But, successful applicants enlist for four years "for duty with the U.S. Marine Band only," and there is no boot camp.  Further, each new band member is immediately appointed to the rank of Staff Sergeant.  What a deal!  Historically, more than 90 percent of Marine Band members serve for 20 years or more.