Band Camp

Tri-Service band camp with the Royal Navy

Each year around 100 CCF cadets from across all services attend one of three tri-service music camps held in Dartmouth. David Green, who served in the Royal Marines band and is now the director of music at Plymouth College, gives his insight into the course.

“Each summer we draw cadets from across the country to come to Dartmouth and take the place of the Royal Marines band. They arrive at the beginning of the week knowing that at the end they will need to provide a chapel service; a short beat retreat before the mess dinner plus music during it and a spectacular finale; ceremonial divisions; and then a 40-minute beat retreat the following day. For a Royal Marines band that is a very busy week, so for cadets who have not worked together as a band for 12 months – or who may be new to it – turning them around and making them sound like a Royal Marines band is hard. But they have never let me down – they are absolutely amazing.”

Cadets need to be 16 or older, although David takes the occasional 15-year-old who plays tuba, trombone or French horn, as these are all shortage instruments.

Musically, the summer camp is like being in an “intensive orchestral course” that would normally cost hundreds of pounds, he says. “But on an orchestral course if you don’t quite get there it doesn’t matter. Here it does – you might have the Second Sea Lord taking parade at the end of the week.”

Before this, however, is the musically less-stressful marching band camp, which will be held over February half term. “As long as cadets are about grade four or five plus, that is all they need to worry about. We teach them how to march without playing, and then we add playing. It is intensive parade band drill week. If they can play an instrument and they come along, by the end I will have turned them into something representing a Royal Marines marching band.”

This particular camp used to be held at Easter but has been moved forwards so that it does not interfere with GCSE preparation – a change which, David hopes, will mean that more cadets will be able to attend.

David’s message to other adult instructors is straightforward: “Find out if your cadets are musical. And why not go and have a chat to the director of music at school and tell them about the course – that it is excellent value for money and that the quality of musical training is second to none.”