To be or not to be...???

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To be or not to be...???

Postby 1st_oboe » Fri Sep 05, 2003 3:58 am

Hello all.
I have been presented with what could be the greatest thing to ever happen to me. The United States Marine Corps has an immediate need for clarinet and baritone bugle players, both of which I play very well. I would most likely go for clarinet.
Here's my major conflicts: I am an oboe player. While I do just fine on clarinet, it has always been one of my many secondary instruments. I have finished my first year of college as a music ed. major with emphasis on oboe.
I also teach oboe to a few jr high oboists, which is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. I really don't want to leave my students, though I will see what I can do to find them a teacher if I do join the Corps.
Musical issuses aside for a second, there's also the fact that I have a sister (11) and baby cousin (almost 2) who I both love dearly. I'm not sure that I want to be away from them for my four year enlistment. I will be able to come home every once in a while, but I don't know if every once in a while will be enough. I want to see these kids grow up. (Pausing to wipe away tears... all better)

On the positive side of this is all the benefits of being a Marine. While I'm enlisted, all expenses including food, housing, anything related to my job and school are paid for. On top of that is a minimum salary of $1300 a month of 'disposable income'. And to top it all off is the $50k I will get to continue my education after the Corps. Oh and let's not forget health benefits, etc...
Then there's the 6 months I would spend at the Military School of Music. I've heard from many people that this is one of the best music schools around.
Also, the possibility exists that I may be stationed in Hawaii or Japan, two places that I've always wanted to see... then again if I end up there, it would be a little difficult to come home on my 2.5 vacation days a month to see my family...

I'm sure there are some things I have left out. I'm sure they'll surface in discussion here in the next couple days.

The whole thing summarized... Am I willing to walk away from my life as I know it for a wonderful education and guaranteed job/income for the next 4(or more) years?

Looking forward to the lively discussion.

P.S. I will be away from the computer untill sunday night, so don't count on hearing back from me untill then.

Thank you all... I've thouroughly enjoyed being a part of your little community here.

<small>[ 09-05-2003, 05:01 AM: Message edited by: 1st_oboe ]</small>
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby barfle » Fri Sep 05, 2003 7:10 am

I have no idea what it's like to be a Marine musician, but I have a few clues about what it's like to be a grunt. Something that was left out of your post was what you would have to do to earn all those perks.

One thing I was told early on as a US Army draftee is that we could, at any time, be a member of a fighting corps. That means even a clarinetist could end up shooting and being shot at. In another thread on this board, we're discussing Jessica Lynch, who thought she was going to do a little typing once a month, and ended up a POW. Such things are unusual, but certainly possible.

Would you be going through normal Marine boot camp? If so, I'd get ready for some serious harassment for however long it takes. Most of those drill instructors want to make fighting men out of their troops, not clarinetists. It's not that it's not survivable, but the treatment you would receive won't be fun. It'll be difficult and painful and fascinating and hell and wacky and terrifying and you'll make some life-long friends.

The travel I experienced in the Army was fine. I went to Germany, which was nice because I had studied the language in high school, so at least I had a chance to give the locals a chance to chuckle.

I can't offer advice about your sister and cousin. Only you know how important their lives at this stage are to you. The vacation time comes to one month per year, so you could take two two-week vacations per year to come home, if that's your priority. If it were me, I'd tour wherever I happened to be stationed, but that's just me.
--I know what I like--
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Fri Sep 05, 2003 9:18 am

The USMC band stationed at MCAS Miramar did a show at the Poway PAC, some time ago, and there was some information dispersed about what the band does.

Mostly, they travel, play, and do PR stuff for the Marines. Parade marching happens, as do early morning runs and other Marine style stuff. As military bands go, they are the class of the world and nobody is better.

They all did boot camp, they all have rifles and sidearms and know the uses thereof, and they can do Marine infantry stuff in addition to musician stuff.

There have been Marine musicians at several famous battles. This was usually not planned but it does happen. They are real Marines, as well as fine musicians, and sometimes Marines do find themselves in hazardous places among people who don't like US Marines.

Still, I will always be impressed by the Gunny who danced jigs wrapped in his sousaphone. Impressive man.

Leaving home is part of growing up. Hardly any of us avoid it. This sounds like it could be a solid growth opportunity for you. Going away from family is difficult but inevitable.

Oh, one more point. Recruiters do not mention all the details while they're recruiting. Get it all in writing and read it carefully. Do not sign anything you don't understand.

Good luck,

Selma
>^..^<
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby OperaTenor » Fri Sep 05, 2003 10:52 am

Hi 1st,

The last thing Selma said is the most important thing for you to remember!

I had a year of college as a vocal performance major. I would characterize my family at the time as borderline lower middle class income(the southern border, mind you), so I was attending school on fumes, financially. When it came time to prepare for my second year, I sought to put it together to go to a small private school that had an excellent performing arts department. I had my basic grant, social security(thanks to my parents), work study and a part time job factored in (as I recall, I couldn't get a staudent loan), and would be able to just carry 14 credits. I counted on my basic grant being at least as big as it was the previous year, and it ended up being $600 short, and there was no way for me to make up for it. To cap it, with that kind of shortfall, I couldn't return to the community college I'd gone to the previous year.

I wanted to keep singing and further my music education, but I also wanted security, so I came up with the idea of joining a military branch and becoming a musician. The only branch that would even discuss it with me was the Navy. I went to the recruiter, discussed it, and took the ASVAB. I scored a 99 out of 99 on the sections the Navy looks at, at which point the recruiter's eyes rolled in their sockets, his dorsal fin popped up, and he proceeded to swindle me into nuclear power and submarines, and I bit, hook, line and sinker. He proceeded to tell me how difficult it would be to start out as a musician, as I would have to schedule time with the band, rent a hall, and audition. The better way to do it, according to him, was to join in a different job rating, and after I was in, "cross-rate" to musician, and oh, by the way, how did I feel about nuclear power and submarines? What he neglected to tell me about was a structure in the Navy called "creole groups". Job ratings are divided by level of criticality, A,B,C,D, & E, A being the most critical, and E being the least. In cross rating you can stay in your own creole group or go to a higher one, but you can never go down, and at the time, submarine nucs were A's, and musicians were D's. When I got to boot camp, my company commander, who happened to be a surface nuc, threw his head back and laughed when I told him of my intention to become a musician. I believe he said: "Boy, you are f@#^^d!" Nevertheless, for the ensuing two years I tried every legitimate way I could to join the musician corps. And I got to speak with several of them, and it was everything I imagined it would be.

So I ended up as a nuclear mechanical operator on a submarine. I advanced to E6 in five years. 6 months after I made E6, one of the guys on the boat handed me a copy of the Navy Times. In it was an article where the musician corps was looking for male vocalists, any rate, any creole group, E5 AND BELOW !!!! Imagine what went through my head....

I guess my points are: 1) Don't take college for granted. Some us are envious. 2) If you deal with the military, GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING! Take your time, and don't let them rush you. Read and understand all of the fine print. I ended up being a graduate of the 2nd hardest technical school in the country (Naval Nuclear Power School, 2nd to MIT), and I still got snookered by a weasley recruiter.

Good luck, and much success, whatever you do! :cool:
"To help mend the world is true religion."
- William Penn

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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby OperaTenor » Fri Sep 05, 2003 12:28 pm

BTW, 1st, since you're in Oregon, you'll know the schools I referred to. Lane Community College was where I went, and George Fox College was where I wanted to go.
"To help mend the world is true religion."
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby bignaf » Fri Sep 05, 2003 6:01 pm

how great is the BBB? 2 guys who don't know eachg other manage to give and get valuable advice they couldn't have gotten otherwise. we have a nice community here.
P.S. for once I'm "speaking" seriously.

<small>[ 09-05-2003, 07:02 PM: Message edited by: bignaf ]</small>
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby analog » Fri Sep 05, 2003 6:22 pm

small world, OT.
I spent a thirty years in a nuclear generating plant, surrounded by former Navy nukes. It is as you say the best school extant. I wish I'd gone through it and then gone to college.

As to 1st oboe's dilemma:
Looking backward from this end of a lifetime, the things I regret are more the ones I didn't do than those I did. Especially those that would've pushed me harder. And I wish I'd learned to read music and operate an instrument. (Can one still learn at sixty?)

So whatever you choose to do, Mr 1st Oboe, just do it exceedingly well. I really envy you your choices.

You might take a reading on Joseph Conrad's "Youth".
Cogito ergo doleo.
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby Serenity » Fri Sep 05, 2003 6:31 pm

Hey OT...would you do that again or did you think of another way to get where you are?
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby OperaTenor » Fri Sep 05, 2003 6:36 pm

Hi Analog,

<HIJACK ALERT!!>

It was a tough school as well. In my section(classroom), we started the year with 44 students. At the end there were 16 of us looking across rows of empty desks at each other. :D
"To help mend the world is true religion."
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby OperaTenor » Fri Sep 05, 2003 6:48 pm

Hi Serenity, it's a tough question. I wouldn't want to relive a lot of the anguish of the nuclear training and time on das Boot, but I can't ignore some of the valuable lessons learned or some of the opportunities I would've missed otherwise. If I could have stayed in school, I certainly would have, and would have been much further along my singing career path than I am now (I feel like I'm about 20 years behind). I think, in 1st oboe's case, he can stay in school, and his first love is the oboe, which he would have to give up joining the Marines. And then there's that, does he really want to deal with all that oooh-RAH! stuff on top of it. In the Marines, there's no escaping that mentality.
"To help mend the world is true religion."
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby piqaboo » Fri Sep 05, 2003 6:54 pm

Once in as a clarinetist, does 1st have any chance at switching back to the oboe in time?
Altoid - curiously strong.
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby OperaTenor » Fri Sep 05, 2003 7:16 pm

Not in the Marine band. They don't have oboes. It's mostly brass with some woodwinds. Good question, IMHO.
"To help mend the world is true religion."
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby Angie Parkes » Fri Sep 05, 2003 8:14 pm

I throw this question into the mix: once a band player, can one make the switch to symphony orchestra if one would so choose? I'm wondering if the repertoire is sufficiently different so that if a band musician wanted to make the switch, he/she would have to scramble like mad to learn the orchestral & solo lit to prepare for an audition.
Cheers,
Angie
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby Serenity » Fri Sep 05, 2003 8:22 pm

1st, the military is not really about music. I would consider it as a last resort.
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Sat Sep 06, 2003 3:29 pm

Originally posted by operatenor:
...one anti-neutrino (which I think is a convenient excuse for a loss they can't explain[nuc humor])...
...but anti-neutrinos are such a neat way to explain one of those annoying gaps between beloved theory and observed reality.

Goes well with hole-flow; an amusing fiction dreamed up by conventional-current reactionaries who want the current to go from pos to neg polarity when they teach electronic theory.

Made me nuts. I'm an electron-flow girl.
>^..^<
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby dai bread » Sat Sep 06, 2003 11:04 pm

Are people still teaching that electrons flow from pos to neg? I learned it the other way 50 years ago!

As for the military, I make 2 comments. The obvious one is that, these days a U.S. marine is more likely to be posted to Iraq than Hawaii.

The second is, that I did military drill at high school. We all did; it was compulsory, and it was the best anti-military idea anyone ever dreamed up. We ended up loathing the army and everything it stood for.

Much, much, later (about 20 years) I met one or two people who had joined our regular forces; in particular our Air Force. (We had one in those days!) I found from them that real military life was nothing like school cadets; that it was actually a very good life.

Perhaps a third comment. An-ex USAF colonel told my sister that anyone who joined the marines had to be mad. He was referring to the man who is now my brother-in-law, and who served 3 tours of duty in Vietnam. He is now suffering certain consequences, unfortunately.

This probably isn't very helpful 1st.Oboe, but life and its choices aren't simple.
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby 1st_oboe » Sun Sep 07, 2003 1:32 am

Thank you all for your comments so far. There's been a new twist. While trying to find my Marine recruiter at the recruiting station, the Army recruiter saw me and got ahold of me. Later that day, I was talking to the Captain of recruiting for the region. The Army wants me to play oboe. I'm going through MEPS for the Marines Sunday/Monday, but I have my recruiter's word as a Marine (Integrity is a HUGE part of Marine life, so his word is good as gold...) that I will not be presented with an enlistment contract untill after I audition on monday or tuesday. The only reason he wants me to do MEPS before the audition is to make sure I'm academically and physically certified. I also have an audition set up with the Army on thursday or friday, so I'm going to audition for both, and see what happens. I haven't touched a clarinet for a couple of years, so I'm pretty rusty. I may not pass the Marine audition. But oboe is a different story, that's been my major instrument for the last 5 years. Ach! It's all very frustrating. Maybe I'll just make my Grandpa proud and join the Air Force! (He was in all his life, now retired and living well on the retirement package he got...)
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby OperaTenor » Sun Sep 07, 2003 2:09 am

Air Force always gets my vote!
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby 1st_oboe » Sun Sep 07, 2003 2:19 am

Yeah, the AF definately would be the way to go as far as family tradition goes. My Mom's dad was in full time all his life as previously stated, and my Dad was in AF reserve for a few years before/during/shortly after my birth.

And yes, I am familiar with Lane CC and George Fox. My best friend's sister is currently a flute major at George Fox and absolutely loves it.
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Re: To be or not to be...???

Postby 1st_oboe » Sun Sep 07, 2003 2:16 pm

Ok, here's where I am right now.
I'm going to MEPS to process for the Marines today. I think I said before that I have my recruiter's word that I'm not going to be signing anything untill I audition. I'm just going through the ASVAB/Physical so they can be sure I'll pass before they spend money for an auditioner to come up to listen to me (I think it would cost more to process me than to have an auditioner come up, but the government works in mysterious ways...)
My Marine audition on clarinet will be monday or tuesday. I'm going to wait untill after I have my Army audition on oboe, thursday or friday before I make any decisions. I'm really really inclined to play oboe for the army, that is a lot closer to my goals for life. If the Arrmy says they want me to play oboe for them, I will most likely do it. The Marines will not be too happy with me, but oh well, I'm sure I'm not the first recruit they've lost to another branch. Going with the army will also give me the chance to stick around here for a while, since I can pretty much pick when I go to boot. This will give me time to get better prepared emotionally and physically for boot, as well as give me a chance to play in the college's fall musical and the Messiah in December, which I missed last year bue to my whole broken finger/surgery thing, which I think I have mentioned in another thread somewhere.
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