Canadian Forces Primary Reserve

5th (British Columbia) Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery Band

Musician

(Military Occupation Code: R871)

 

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RECRUITING FAQ

Who are we?
What do we do?
What are my duties and obligations?
What can I expect in return from the Canadian Forces?
What are some other benefits?
How much work can I expect?
Am I signing on for a fixed length of time?
Will I be sent to war?
Do I have to do basic training?
Do I have to fire a weapon?
Is there summer employment?
Do I get a uniform?
Do I get an instrument and supplies?
Do I have to get a haircut?
What other types of training can I receive?
How long will the enrolment procedure take?
What are the physical fitness requirements for enrolment?
Can I change trades or transfer once I am enrolled?
What kind of musical training and experience are you looking for?
What are the minimum enrolment requirements for the CF?

 

Who are we?

The Ň5th (British Columbia) Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery BandÓ is our full name, but we will answer to Ň5 Field BandÓ too. We are a unit of the Primary Reserve (PRes) of the Canadian Forces (CF), consisting of approximately 40 musicians, including paid Reservists, volunteer Associate members and a Bandmaster/Director of Music. We are primarily a Concert Band, but within the Concert Band are smaller ensembles such as a Parade Band, a Mess Dinner Band, a Brass Quintet, a Woodwind Quintet, a Stage Band, and a Jazz Combo. There are no full-time members of the band, so our members are students, teachers, freelance musicians, civil servants, a doctor, a nurse, a marketing director, a bookkeeper, an airline pilot, some former Regular Force musicians, and a few full-time parents, amongst others!
 
Have a look at the official
job description for Regular Force musicians, or click here for Reserve Force musicians.
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What do we do?

The BandŐs mandate is to provide musical support to CF units all over Vancouver Island, and sometimes the mainland, when they request it. For example, if a unit is having its annual dinner, we could be asked to play atmosphere music while they dine. At the end of such dinners, there is traditionally some ceremonial music we would be required to play, such as national anthems or regimental marches for guests of the dinner.

 

We also provide music for military parades, where there is a lot of pomp and ceremony. Our marching band plays for the troops on parade and performs salutes, anthems, inspection tunes and marches.

 

We often support activities in the civilian community, as well. We play at special occasions, dinners, and ceremonies, such as Remembrance Day and Canada Day. Our annual Spring Concert is held every April, and in August, the band plays on Sunday afternoons at Fort Rodd Hill, where the Regiment once manned the guns.

 

In order to maintain the high standard for which we are known, we rehearse one night a week, from September to June. A second night is available for smaller ensembles to rehearse and to take care of the administration required in running the Band.
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What are my duties and obligations?

As a Reserve Musician, you are required to attend rehearsals on a weekly basis, in uniform, and you are expected to participate in engagements as they come up. Depending on your availability, and the musical needs of the band, you may be excused from a service without penalty. We understand that this is a part-time job and we all have lives outside of the Band, so there is some flexibility, as long as you demonstrate your willingness to participate when it comes down to the crunch.

 

Because the Band performs the majority of its own administration, most enrolled members are assigned a secondary duty which may not be musical in nature. Secondary duties include: Administration, Finance, Library, Recruiting, Training, and Supply. If you come in for work a second night per week, your pay will double.
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What can I expect in return from the Canadian Forces? What are the pay and allowances? What benefits are available to me?

Salary:

All enrolled members of 5 Fd Band are paid twice a month for the work they do, according to their rank and training. You will start at the entry-level rank of Private Recruit (Pte(R)), and throughout your career, you will progress through the ranks and your pay will increase with each change of rank. Each rank is divided into five Incentive Pay Categories (IPC), as well, so each year that you are at the same rank, your pay will increase. The starting pay rate for a Pte(R) is currently $43.57 for a routine rehearsal or concert. If any work period exceeds 6 hours, your pay doubles to $87.13. If you want to think of it in terms of an hourly rate, a Pte(R) makes $14.52 per hour (including PILL, see below) for a three-hour rehearsal or concert. The working rank of the PRes is Corporal (Cpl), and senior Cpls are paid $22.42 per hour for a three-hour service (including PILL). In the Musician trade, a Pte who has completed Basic Training and his/her first instrumental Qualification Level is eligible for promotion to Cpl one year after enrolment. Currently, the maximum hourly rate for an R871 Musician is $34.63 per hour. See also the current chart of pay rates for more rates.

 

Vacation Pay:

All reservists receive 9% vacation pay, called Premium In Lieu of Leave (PILL), on each paycheque

 

Employment Insurance:

All reservists have EIC premiums deducted.

 

Reserve Force Retirement Gratuity:

Much like many civilian organizations, the CF offers retirement benefits. Currently, a lump-sum retirement gratuity is available to those PRes members who release after a minimum of ten yearsŐ service. It is equal to three and a half daysŐ pay for each year of service (i.e. thirty five daysŐ pay if you have ten yearsŐ service). The amount of the gratuity increases by three and a half daysŐ pay for each year of service up to twenty years of service, when it doubles. Members who have more than 20 years of service in the PRes when they release, receive seven daysŐ pay for each year of service (i.e. 140 daysŐ pay for a member with twenty yearsŐ service.) This could be a lump payment of over $40,000!

 

Reserve Force Pension:

Legislation is currently being passed by Parliament to provide CF PRes members with a pension upon retirement. Details are yet to be announced, but it is due to be implemented in March 2007.
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Other Compensation and Benefits:

Dental Plan:

For members of the Primary Reserve, the Great West Life Dental Plan covers 90% of most basic dental services. You are required to pay a deductible of $25 each calendar year, and then the remaining 10% of your dentistŐs charges.

 

Tuition Reimbursement:

One of the newest additions to the list of compensation and benefits for PRes members is that the CF will reimburse you 50% of your tuition, up to a maximum of $2,000 in a year, for tuition for any qualifying post-secondary education you undertake, provided that you are successful at school and you participate regularly with the PRes. The maximum career benefit is $8,000.

 

BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) Premium Reimbursement:

If you pay your own MSP premiums, the CF will reimburse you up to 50% of your premiums for the previous calendar year, depending on how much work you do with the PRes.

 

Commuting Assistance:

If you live more than 16 km away from Bay Street Armoury, where we rehearse, you are eligible for a travel allowance.

 

Travel, Meal and Lodging Allowances and Per Diems:

When you are required by the CF to travel somewhere for training or for other employment, you will be compensated in tax-free allowances. Automobile travel will earn you a rate per kilometre, air travel will be arranged and funded by the CF, ferry, bus and taxi fares will be reimbursed, etc. If you are required to travel over a meal hour, or to stay overnight in a hotel, you will be reimbursed. When you are employed for more than seven days, you are on a different class of service, and are entitled to a per diem. Currently it is a tax-free $7 per day, plus a phone call allowance for each day!

More information on Reserve Force Benefits can be found on the official site.


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How much work can I expect?

YouŐll play in full band rehearsals at least one night per week, for the school year. With engagements and other training (small ensembles, administration, first aid, driving courses and other optional courses), that could amount to about 55 (fifty-five) half days per year, or about $300 per month (before deductions), on average, for a senior Corporal.
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Am I signing on for a fixed length of time?

No. Once you are enrolled, you decide when you want to leave. There is no minimum time required for you to serve, and the compulsory retirement age is 60. If you just need a break, you can apply for a leave of absence with no penalty. You can also transfer to other bands in Canada, if you move for work or studies, as there are bands in almost every province in the country.
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Will I be sent to war?

As a PRes Musician, you cannot be automatically sent to an operational theatre without your consent or unless you want to volunteer. The Musician trade (R871) is considered one of the non-combat trades and maintains a very basic level of combat preparedness. After your Basic Training, further combat training may consist of a voluntary refresher-day on the rifle range or a day of classroom instruction, but it is rare, if not unheard of, that PRes Musicians are asked to volunteer for an operational combat role. Because one of the other roles of the Primary Reserve is that of "aid to the civil power", members may be solicited or tasked for such local emergencies as search-and-rescue after an earthquake, fighting wildfires, or assisting authorities in the event of an icestorm or other natural disaster.
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Do I have to do basic training?

Yes. All new recruits are required to complete basic training to remain in the CF. It consists of training common to all CF trades such as military drill, physical fitness, military history, weapons-handling, work on the firing range, and an overview of the CFŐs administration procedures and organization. Generally, the course is held in the summer in Western Canada and lasts about four weeks. Basic Training is a crucial element of life in the CF. Its ultimate purpose is to provide guidance and practical experience in being a member of a team and working together well to achieve a goal. This is valuable asset to have in all aspects your life, not just in the CF.
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Do I have to fire a weapon?

Yes. Part of your Basic Training experience will include not only learning, and perfecting, your rifle drill on the parade square, but you will also spend some time on a range, learning about, and practicing, the safe operation of the principal weapon of the Canadian Forces, the C7, northern cousin of the American M16. The good news is that Musicians traditionally outperform even the combat trades on the rifle range because of our ability to control our breathing and to concentrate. Do you have to fire a rifle? No, you GET to fire a rifle! Here's a hint to make your Basic Training easier: never refer to your rifle as a "gun". It's a "weapon" or a "rifle". You'll find out why...
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Is there summer employment?

Yes. There are several opportunities for summer employment varying from one week to four months in length. Employment could include membership in the Band of the Ceremonial Guard on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, or training at the CF Music Training Company at CFB Borden near Barrie, Ontario. The Music Training Company in Borden is the national Reserve Musician training establishment in the country. There, our musicians undergo training in such courses as Instrumental Qualification (individual and ensemble instruction and assessment), Theory, History, Conducting and Arranging, Band Administration and Drum Majoring. The facilities in Borden are state-of-the-art, having opened in the summer of 2002. There are other summer bands that can provide employment, including the Atlantic Militia Area Band, in Nova Scotia, and the Naval Reserve National Band, in Ontario.
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Do I get a uniform?

Yes. In fact, you will be issued four different uniforms. The CF provides you with two general-purpose uniforms (one for dress, and combats for everyday wear), and the Band provides you with two uniforms (one for concerts and one for parades). In general, the CF will supply you with all the clothing you will require for participation in its activities.
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Do I get an instrument and supplies?

Yes. The Band can supply you with an instrument. Our membership consists of many professional musicians and students who use their own instruments, but instruments, accessories and supplies are available to those who need them. When you are working under the auspices of the CF, the CF will see that you are able to accomplish your musical goals.
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Do I have to get a haircut?

It depends how long your hair is! For both sexes, there are standards to follow for the appearance of your hair. For males, you will have it short on the back and sides, not longer than one inch long on the top, away from the ears and tapered on the back. For females, you are permitted a short style, or long with a bun or with two braids. In general, there are clear standards for the wearing of hair, jewellery, tattoos, sunglasses, and religious accoutrements while in uniform. Don't worry, you will find out all about it on your Basic Training!
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What other types of training can I receive?

In addition to the four Qualification Levels (QL) you will attain on your instrument, each more challenging than the last, and after Basic Training, the next course you will encounter during your career progression is Primary Leadership Qualification (PLQ). This is done at the rank of Cpl, and is required for the Master Corporal (MCpl) appointment. It is an introduction to leadership, including lesson-planning and teaching, giving drill on the parade square, and working as a team member and a team leader. It prepares you for supervisory roles and within the band. There is also a Senior Leadership Course (SLC) done as a Sergeant (Sgt) and provides further leadership and administrative training. It is required for promotion to Warrant Officer. Here is a chart of the career courses you will encounter:

Qual

Description

Done as

Required for

QL1

Enrolment

Civilian

Private (Recruit)

QL2

Basic Training

Private (Recruit)

Private (Trained)

QL3

First Instrumental Qual

Private (Trained)

Private (Basic)

QL4

Second Instrumental Qual

Private (Basic)

Corporal

QL5

Primary Leadership Qual

Corporal

Master Corporal

QL6A

Third Instrumental Qual

Master Corporal

Sergeant

SLC

Senior Leadership Course

Sergeant

Warrant Officer

QL6B

Fourth Instrumental Qual

Sergeant

Warrant Officer

QL7I

Conducting, Arranging

Warrant Officer

Master Warrant Officer

QL7II

Band Administration

Warrant Officer

Master Warrant Officer

Other trade courses available to you are Drum Major and Band Administration courses. Almost all of the musician courses are offered exclusively during the summer at the CF Music Training Company, at CFB Borden, in Ontario, while the Basic Training and Leadership courses may be offered anywhere in Western Canada.
 
In general, you are required to spend two years at each rank, before you are eligible for promotion. The exception to this is Pte, where only one year is required. Also, when appointed Master Corporal, your IPC does not change, so your pay increases hugely!
 
In addition, there are non-trade-related courses available to you as a Reservist including Standard First Aid and CPR, customized for the CF by St. John Ambulance, and a course in Light Urban Search and Rescue (LUSAR). Given that Reservists can be called out in aid to the civil power, LUSAR training might be useful. There are also courses in driving military- and civilian-pattern vehicles, including a Defensive Driving Course. When you have completed the driving course, you are licensed by the CF to operate the type if vehicle on which you have trained and qualified. This can come in handy when the band travels and needs a driver! Also, as part of your Basic Training, you will undergo instruction in SHARP, or Standard for Harassment and Racism Prevention. The DND maintains a VERY STRICT zero-tolerance policy on harassment of any kind, and SHARP training will be invaluable to you in all aspects of your life.
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How long will the enrolment procedure take?

Depending on how prepared you are in gathering the required documentation, your personal history, and your level of physical fitness, enrolment can take anywhere from two months to a year. While you are in the process, you are welcome and encouraged to play with the band in rehearsal and concert, but you cannot be paid for these services. Once you are sworn in to the CF, you will start being paid immediately.
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What are the physical fitness requirements for enrolment?

In addition to completing an aptitude test, a questionnaire on your medical condition and history, and being interviewed by a Medical Officer, you will be tested on your level of physical fitness by performing push-ups (19 for men, 9 for women), sit-ups (19 for men, 15 for women), aerobic level (e.g. 2.4 km run in less than 11:56 for men, 14:26 for women), and a hand-grip strength test. Chin-ups would be a good idea too (6 for men, 3 for women), but you are not tested on them. Check here for a detailed intro to the CF fitness standard.
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Can I change trades or transfer once I am enrolled?

There are many trades available to you as a Reservist in the CF. If you find that belonging to a top-notch professional military band is not your thing, you can apply to "remuster", or change trades. Depending on the trade you choose, you may be required to attend training at another location in Victoria, or elsewhere on the Island. Other trades include Artillery, Infantry, Administration/Finance, Medical, Communications, Security, Cook, Steward, Engineer, Vehicle Technician, Weapons Technician, and more. You may even feel that the Army is not where you want to be, but that the Air Force or Navy offer a trade that appeals to you. In that case you would be applying for a transfer of element. You will find lots of information on the different trades at your local CF Recruiting Centre, or at the Canadian Forces Job Explorer.
 
If you are moving away from Victoria to work or study, you may be able to transfer to another Reserve Band in that city, if there is a vacancy. There are many other Brass/Reed bands in Canada from Vancouver to St. John's, NL. Toronto, alone, has four bands! Having the ability to transfer to another band is a great way to get a head start in a new city. You will have a part-time job before you even arrive! Go here to see a list of all the CF bands in Canada.
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What kind of musical training and experience are you looking for?

The required playing standard is fairly high for enrolment in 5 Fd Band in order to maintain our professional standard. You should have had several years of private study and a few years of concert band or orchestral experience under your belt. This is because you will not only need to be proficient on your instrument, but you will need to know how to integrate yourself into an instrumental section musically and socially. In terms of Royal Conservatory levels, you should be playing at or above a Grade 6, with or without the actual certificate. Of course, your knowledge of basic theory should be solid, too. We are particularly interested in senior high school students intending to study music at univeristy or college here in Victoria, and current university or college students in a post-secondary degree or diploma programme in Victoria. Students studying outside the greater Victoria area may also be considered for enrolment, under the proviso that they are prepared to travel to Victoria weekly. See Auditioning for more information on our auditions.
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What are the minimum enrolment requirements for the CF?

You can be enrolled at the age of 16 with consent of a parent or guardian. You must also be a Canadian citizen, and have completed Grade 10.
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