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Naval School of Music
Academic Overview

The Naval School of Music is the only institution of its kind in the Department of Defense and its graduates earn college credits upon completion of training. The Naval School of Music's mission is to provide basic to advanced levels of instruction to military musicians of the Navy and Marine Corps. Following basic training, Sailors and Marines attend MU "A" School to gain the musician designator (NEC/MOS) and ultimate assignment to a Fleet or Field band. During their career, military musicians may also be selected for advanced training where they have an opportunity to gain additional skills as sound technicians, unit leaders, arrangers, ceremonial band conductors, drum majors, and enlisted bandleaders. The Naval School of Music plays a vital role in today's armed forces and its graduates go on to become musical ambassadors on ships and stations throughout the world.

Basic Course (MU "A" School)
The Music Basic Course provides entry-level training to qualify Sailors and Marines for careers as military musicians in their respective Services. Upon completion, graduates receive the bandsman NEC/MOS and are assigned to their first Fleet or Field band in locations throughout the United States and abroad. During this 21-week period, emphasis is on individual instrumental or vocal performance. Students attend daily wind ensembles, jazz ensembles, popular music groups, drill bands, and small chamber ensembles to fine-tune their skills with classroom and private instruction.

Advanced Courses (MU "C" School)
The Naval School of Music provides specific instruction in individual instrumental performance as well as in the rehearsing and conducting of ceremonial bands, concert bands, popular music groups and jazz ensembles. Students also practice analyzing advanced music, writing musical arrangements, performing the duties of Drum Major for ceremonial bands, performing as skilled Sound Reinforcement Technicians, managing non-musical support for a Navy or Marine Corps Band, and evaluating and providing information on the use, capabilities, and operations of all units of a Navy or Marine Corps Band. Individual personal computer workstations, MIDI keyboards and an LCD projection system help students and instructors interact in this creative learning environment. The most current musical software is utilized. For specific information on each course, please select the appropriate link above.

Image of Classroom Instructor Image of student. Image of Marching Band

As the first of several courses of instruction currently offered at the school, the 21 week Music Basic Course encompasses the fundamentals of music theory and ear training as well as instrumental performance.

The schedule is rigorous. During an average school day, which begins at 7:30 a.m., students attend academic classes, perform in a variety of ensembles, hone their marching skills and, as time permits, get a head start on the 15 hours of individual practice required weekly.

Student progress is carefully monitored and each musician must pass several auditions over the course of training. Special emphasis, therefore, is placed on private instruction.

The more than 20 instrumental instructors on staff are carefully screened and chosen from top performers in Navy and Marine Corps ensembles worldwide. In addition to having completed advanced levels of training at the Naval School of Music, most hold degrees from universities and music conservatories.

Extra assistance is also available for students in all academic areas.

Image of wind players Image of trumpet players Image of Stage Band rehearsal
Unit Leader

Image of student rehearsal Course Mission
The Unit Leader Course is designed to prepare military musician personnel (E5-E6) to perform the duties of the ceremonial conductor, drum major, and small ensemble leader. This course trains aspiring bandleaders in the art of ceremonial band leadership (conducting/drum majoring), along with experience leading smaller ensembles, to include contemporary groups such as jazz combos and popular music groups.

Course Overview
Advanced training includes rehearsing and conducting ceremonial bands, performing the duties of drum major for ceremonial bands, rehearsing popular music groups, analyzing and writing advanced music, and performing technical and non-musical support for performances. Student to teacher ratio is limited to 12:1, allowing for more personalized instruction. Students also maintain a computer workstation at their desk, enabling them to take advantage of the most current music education software available. Navy personnel completing this course are awarded the secondary NEC 3853 (Unit Leader).

E5 or E6 graduate of the Music Basic Course (A-450-0010), meet individual service and physical readiness requirements, and have a recommendation from their current Bandmaster.

Senior Musician

Senior Musician Course Mission
The Senior Musician Course (30 weeks) is designed to prepare personnel (E6-E7) to perform the duties of the Senior Enlisted /Assistant Director/Enlisted Bandmaster in Navy and Marine Corps fleet and field bands around the word.

Course Overview

The course content includes conducting/rehearsal techniques, instrumental performance, ear training, theory, counterpoint, history, form and analysis, and band scoring. This course prepares the student for the highest levels of responsibility through advanced score study, ear training, and rehearsal techniques. In addition to advanced “core” academic subjects, emphasis in this course focuses on conducting and rehearsing the concert band and large jazz ensemble. Student to teacher ratio is limited to 12:1, allowing for more personalized instruction. Students also maintain a computer workstation at their desk, enabling them to take advantage of the most current music education software available. Navy personnel completing this course earn a new primary NEC (3851).

E6 or E7 graduates of one of the following courses: Ceremonial Conductor/Drum Major Course (A-450-0016) (no longer available), Unit Leader Course (A-450-0012). Recommendation of current Bandmaster. All students must have completed the Music Basic Course (A-450-0010) and meet individual service and physical readiness requirements.

Sound Reinforcement Technician

Sound Reinforcement Course Mission
The Sound Reinforcement Technician Course is to provide military musician personnel (E4 through E6) with the necessary training to perform as skilled Sound Reinforcement Technicians capable of operating intricate sound reinforcement equipment in various acoustical environments as encountered by Navy, Marine and Army mission requirements.

Course Overview
The content of this six-week course includes theoretical knowledge of electricity, sound system setup, optimization, and sound system design. The second part will focus on equipment operation, troubleshooting and the development of performance skills. Personnel will also be taught to test, evaluate, and maintain sound reinforcement equipment in a safe operating condition. Navy personnel completing this course are awarded the secondary NEC 3855 (Sound Reinforcement Technician).

    Some of the equipment utilized in training and bands throughout the Navy will include the following:

  • - Yamaha digital mixing consoles
  • - JBL, Danley & RCF loudspeaker systems
  • - Shure, Sennheiser, DPA & AEA microphones

All candidates must have completed the Music Basic Course (A-450-0010) as an instrumentalist or vocalist, completed at least one tour of duty in a band, have a recommendation from their current Bandmaster and meet individual service and physical readiness requirements.


Naval School of Music graduates may obtain transcripts from courses they have completed by writing to, Training Officer, Naval School of Music, 1420 Gator Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA 23459-2617. All consolidated courses are recognized by the American Council on Education (ACE). The number of college credits recommended is listed by course in the ACE Guide [Music Basic Prep; Music Basic; Music Arranger; Music Unit leader; Music Ceremonial Conductor/Drum Major; Music Assistant Director/Enlisted Bandleader]. U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel can download transcripts directly from the Navy College Program website using the SMART (Sailor/Marine ACE Registry Transcript) system.