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Navy Musician

The MU Rating

Navy Musician rating insignia

In 1794, when Congress passed "An Act to provide a naval armament", they requisitioned one Drum and one Fife player for each of the six original frigates. Those Drum and the Fife positions along with others that developed over the years would be folded into the Musician rating when it was officially established in 1838.

The Navy's computerized personnel system associates the rating name with an alphanumeric Navy Occupational Specialty (NOS) code. For MU, the NOS is B660.

The U.S. Navy Music Program has a proud tradition of setting a high standard of musical excellence. If you meet this standard and are looking for an exciting career, join the Navy team and be part of one of the TOP music programs in the nation. You will receive all the support and expert training needed to achieve professional status, earning excellent pay and college credits while performing with some of the finest musicians in the country.

Musicians attend the Armed Forces School of Music, located in Little Creek, Virginia, for 21 weeks.

Musician (NOS B660)

Life as a Navy Musician is one of variety! Whether you are assigned to one of our two Premiere Bands, The United States Navy Band Washington, DC or the Naval Academy Band in Annapolis, MD, or one of our 11 fleet bands, you will have the opportunity to perform virtually every idiom from Sousa marches to MTV, from Broadway to symphonic wind ensemble, from contemporary rock to Big Band jazz, and from bluegrass to baroque.

Musicians perform on one or more designated instruments to provide ceremonial and entertainment services afloat and ashore to enhance Navy presence and coalition building initiatives, support Navy recruiting goals and objectives, inspire patriotism, elevate esprit de corps, enhance retention and pride in the naval service, enhance community awareness and public relations, and provide services that project a positive United States and Navy image both at home and abroad.

As a member of a Navy Band, your performances might include presidential inaugurations; parades down Main Street USA, or the Avenue des Champs Elysees in Paris; military ceremonies on the White House lawn or abroad carriers at sea; public shows and concerts as well as live radio and television broadcasts.

Career Sea - Shore Rotation Chart

Rating's Sea (SEA) Shore (SH) Rotation (months)
RatingSEA1SEA2SEA3SEA4SEA/SH
MUCareer path not defined by sea-shore rotation
SH1SH2SH3SH4
Career path not defined by sea-shore rotation

Inside the United States (INUS)/outside the United States (OUTUS): Sailors in INUS/OUTUS communities have sea shore flow career paths based on a rotation between INUS and OUTUS duty assignments. Assignment to sea and/or OUTUS duty (types 2, 3, 4, and 6) will be considered sea tours for sea shore rotation purposes. Assignment to INUS shore duty (type 1) will be considered shore tours for rotation purposes.

Qualifications, Interests, and Working Environment

Musician applicant's musical qualifications are determined by an on-site performance audition. Applicants must demonstrate competent performance ability on a major instrument, and basic knowledge and performance ability on secondary (minor) instruments, where required. The following lists primary instruments and their secondary, where applicable.

Primary and Secondary Instruments

Primary InstrumentSecondary Instrument
FluteSaxophone
OboeNone
ClarinetSaxophone
BassoonNone
SaxophoneClarinet or Flute
TrumpetNone
French HornNone
EuphoniumTrombone
TromboneNone
TubaNone
GuitarSee Note 1
PercussionNone
Piano - KeyboardSee Note 1
Electric BassSee Note 1
Voice (Vocalist - Entertainer)See Note 1

Note 1: Guitar, keyboard, electric bass instrumentalists and vocalists receive basic skills instruction in Percussion Techniques during Musician School and perform on auxiliary percussion instruments for ceremonial, parade, and similar performance requirements (bass drum, cymbals, Latin-percussion, etc.).

All applicants must demonstrate a working knowledge of major and minor scales, common signatures, and fundamental music notation and terminology. All applicants are required to perform a minimum of one solo of their choosing. Vocalist/Entertainers will perform the National Anthem and six prepared pieces of different styles chosen from a provided list.

All Woodwind, Brass, and Percussion (Snare and Drum Set) Instrumentalists must demonstrate the ability to SIGHT-READ "first chair" parts of intermediate to difficult concert and stage band literature at a reasonable level.

Keyboard, Guitar, and Electric Bass Instrumentalists must demonstrate a working knowledge of chords and common chord symbols; ability to perform standard and currently popular, contemporary styles. Ability to SIGHT-READ single line and chord changes from standard sheet music. Keyboard applicants must also be able to SIGHT-READ standard grand staff piano music.

Percussionists must perform, on snare, the 26 rudiments with rolls in both open and closed positions. On drum set, demonstrate an ability to perform standard and currently popular, contemporary styles.

Vocalist/Entertainers must have an extensive repertoire and be able to perform standard and popular, contemporary styles. Must demonstrate the ability to SIGHT-READ lead lines from standard sheet music. Must have professional performing experience as a front-line entertainer. Although not required, an ability to perform basic accompaniment styles on keyboard or guitar is preferred.

NAVCRUITDISTs are responsible for setting-up and funding applicant travel to the audition.

Navy musicians must set the standard for musical excellence and be able to perform at the most professional degree in all musical styles. Along with musical talent, MUs must be constantly aware of the need to maintain the highest degree of professional competence and exemplary behavior. MU requires a minimum of a 35QT on the ASVAB and does not have an individual line score requirement. Normal color perception is not required. Members of this rating are not required to be citizens of the United States.

Credit Recommendations

The American Council on Education recommends that semester hours be awarded in the lower-division bachelor's/associates degree category for courses taken in the MU rating on music theory, elementary conducting, marching and concert band, and social occasions.

Date Page Modified: December 21, 2016.

Navy jobs and programs are revised at times, the information contained on this page is subject to change.

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