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A bandmaster is the leader and conductor of a band, usually a military band or marching band.

British Armed Forces[]

In the British Armed Forces, a Bandmaster is always a Warrant Officer Class One, with a commissioned officer who leads a band being known as the Director of Music. Directors of Music are all former Bandmasters who have been commissioned.

British Army line infantry and cavalry regimental bands were led by Bandmasters until the reorganisation of bands and the creation of the Corps of Army Music in 1994. The larger corps bands, as well as those of the Foot Guards and Household Cavalry, were known as Staff Bands, and were led by a commissioned Director of Music with a Bandmaster as his deputy. In 1994 the number of bands was reduced and all bands became Staff Bands. Bandmaster is an appointment held by a Warrant Officer Class 1, who has the designation WO1(BM) and wears a unique appointment badge of a crowned lyre in a wreath underneath the WO1's badge (the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom). The senior playing musician of the band is the Band Sergeant Major (or Band Corporal Major in the Household Cavalry), a Warrant Officer Class 2.

Royal Marines Bands have been led by commissioned Directors of Music for many years. Bandmaster is an appointment which may be held by a Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1 BDMR), who is equivalent to an Army Bandmaster, or a Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2 BDMR). The Corps Bandmaster is the senior Bandmaster of the Royal Marines and the chief non-commissioned adviser to the Principal Director of Music, Royal Marines.

Royal Air Force bands have also traditionally been led by commissioned Directors of Music. The Bandmaster is a Warrant Officer and fills the same position as the Army equivalent (RAF WOs do not hold appointments as do those in the other services). The senior playing musician, the Band Sergeant, is a Flight Sergeant.

The Salvation Army[]

Bandmaster is a non-commissioned (or local) officer rank in The Salvation Army. A Salvation Army bandmaster is responsible for the ministry of a Salvation Army band and tends to the musical and spiritual development of the bandsmen and women. The Bandmaster is assisted by a Deputy Bandmaster, a Band Secretary, Band Sergeant and Band Treasurer. These roles are also non-commissioned officer ranks. The band may also have a Band Colour Sergeant and a Band Librarian. All of these roles will normally be undertaken by volunteer Salvationists who give their time and services free of charge. Charles Fry was the very first Salvation Army bandmaster.

Cruise Ships[]

The term Bandmaster is also used in the cruising industry to describe the onboard Musical Director. On Princess Cruises for example the Bandmaster is responsible for musical direction for all onboard theatre shows with guest artists and for production shows, writing and arranging for the orchestras as well as band discipline.

See also[]

  • Bandleader

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