PETTY OFFICER 1st CLASS CHARMAINE CHADDOCK: I’m Petty Officer 1st class Charmaine Chaddock from Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’m a musician currently posted to the Stadacona Band, in my hometown.
SERGEANT KEVIN FLEMING: And I’m Sergeant Kevin Fleming, originally from Guelph, Ontario. I’m a musician with the Royal 22e Régiment Band in Valcartier, Quebec.
FLEMING: Being a musician in the military is a great way to play different kinds of music. And we play all different kinds of music at an extremely high level.
CHADDOCK: We do a lot of military ceremonies, a lot of important engagements. And then we’ll go into, say, the Halifax Library and perform the ‘Til We Meet Again’ concert for our veterans and for our local people.
FLEMING: We’re not just doing symphonic repertoire or just big band, we’re doing both and we’re doing both of them very well.
CHADDOCK: A lot of times, we’re the face of the military. We are the people that are connecting with Canadians. Not every other trade gets that opportunity.
FLEMING: Being in the Regular Force, you’re getting paid at a much higher level than all but the highest-paid orchestras in Canada, let alone the pension or any of the other benefits.
CHADDOCK: That means not having to worry about whether or not you factored in the taxes for that last gig you did.
FLEMING: You’re not just playing in the same concert hall every night. You’re not just playing in a bar for tips. You’re really getting to be part of something that’s bigger.
NARRATOR: Musicians in the Canadian Armed Forces can serve part-time in the Reserve Force or full-time in the Regular Force. Working as a Reserve musician is a great way to supplement your income while studying or working full-time elsewhere. It can also lead to a full-time military musician career in the Canadian Armed Forces.
CHADDOCK: I started in the Forces, employed in the Reserves, and eventually a Reg Force position became available and I auditioned, and it ended up with a career in the Reg Force.
NARRATOR: Each Canadian Armed Forces band has its own unique working environment but the core of work remains similar. Whether at home or abroad, military musicians can expect to perform musical duties at functions organized in honour of members of the Royal Family, heads of state of foreign countries, and distinguished persons; government functions, military parades, ceremonies, and for the benefit of military personnel and their guests; activities in support of recruiting, military and civilian community; and music festivals and tattoos. Regardless of the element, the job of a military musician is to perform a musical instrument and to contribute to the band administration and operations.
CHADDOCK: So I don’t think there has ever been a typical week. I think every week of our job changes, every day changes, which I think is part of the draw; part of the attraction for me personally.
FLEMING: For a standard morning you’re going to be doing a full band rehearsal, whether you’re preparing for a parade coming up or for a concert tour. The afternoons are devoted to your secondary duties.
CHADDOCK: It’s not 100% music – you’re doing and you’re learning all these other skill sets. In my career I have managed finance departments within a unit. I have worked in supply. I have learned how to do Public Works contracting.
FLEMING: So some of my secondary duties involve Standards and Training, giving instruction to new musicians coming in, either from the Reserves or from civilian life.
CHADDOCK: I think the travel has been one of my favourite parts of this job. I’ve been to Ankara, Turkey. I was selected to go to the NATO School to learn about gender perspective in peacetime operations. That was one of the highlights of my career thus far.
FLEMING: Whether it’s travelling with your band around your province or around Canada – the band was just in Vimy for the 100th Anniversary, and that was moving. It was an honour to be part of that ceremony. Those memories, those are the best. When you’re playing for the Queen or for Prince Philip somewhere, it’s the kind of stuff that your mom watches on TV and she cries and she tells her friends.