Canadian military bands

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The Music Branch of the Canadian Armed Forces is composed of 6 full-time regular force bands, 53 part-time reserve force bands and 15 voluntary bands.[1] Bands of the Music Branch are often badged with the unit or base insignia that they support.

The concert band in the Canadian Armed Forces are referred to officially as "Brass and Reed" bands. They are performing ensembles consisting of several members of the woodwind instrument family, brass instrument family, and percussion instrument family. The Band Branch also has pipe and drum bands. There is also a dedicated String quartet attached to the Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces. Most bands also form smaller ensembles to suit a wide variety of performance venues, including show bands, jazz ensembles, rock bands, Celtic ensembles, brass quintets, woodwind quintets, parade bands, and Dixie bands.

The Regular Force musicians are selected nationally by competitive audition prior to enlisting.[2] Members of these bands often come from prestigious conservatories and schools of music. Reserve force musicians are hired and trained at the discretion of the local unit to which they apply. The training and career progressions of both components are separate. Until the early 21st century the Music Branch also had drum and bugle corps and corps of drums within all branches of the Canadian Armed Forces.


Military brass and reed bands perform as a marching band in parades, military parades, or seated, in concert, and play a part in military funeral, convocation, ceremonies such as Trooping the Colour, and parades. They participate in community events such as Remembrance Day parades and band concerts. These bands wear a mix of standard military service dress (either battle dress, DEU or shirtsleeves) and Highland dress as appropriate.


Royal 22nd Regiment band

The military bands play ceremonial and marching music, including the national anthems and patriotic songs. A concert band's repertoire includes original wind compositions, arrangements of orchestral compositions, light music, popular tunes and concert marches found in standard repertoire.

Professional bands[edit]

The Governor General's Band of the Ceremonial Guard

The Royal Canadian Navy has two Regular Force professional brass-reed bands in Canada. They are: The Stadacona Band in Halifax Regional Municipality commanded by MARCOM Halifax. The Naden Band in Esquimalt, British Columbia commanded by MARPAC Esquimalt.

In addition to the two Regular Force Navy bands listed above, The Royal Canadian Navy has five additional brass-reed bands based out of the following Naval Reserve units: HMCS Chippawa in Winnipeg, Manitoba; HMCS Montcalm in Quebec, Quebec; HMCS Star in Hamilton, Ontario; HMCS Tecumseh in Calgary, Alberta, and HMCS York in Toronto, Ontario. Historically, HMCS Carleton in Ottawa, Ontario; HMCS Discovery in Vancouver, British Columbia; HMCS Donnacona in Montreal, Quebec; had Naval Reserve bands; however, they were cut in the early 1990s.

Each summer, musicians from the five active Naval Reserve bands come together to form the National Band of the Naval Reserve and perform throughout Canada. They have played at every single Halifax International Tattoo since the mid 1970s, performed on Parliament Hill, at the National War Memorial, at Grey Cup parades, for royal visits and countless other events.

The Canadian Army has a number of Regular Force professional brass-reed bands commanded by 5th Canadian Division: The Royal Canadian Regiment Band in Gagetown, New Brunswick; 1st Battalion, Royal Newfoundland Regiment in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador; 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, RCA, in Saint John, New Brunswick;8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) in Moncton, New Brunswick; Halifax Military District in Halifax Regional Municipality; The Prince Edward Island Regiment (RCAC) in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The Canadian Army has a number of Regular Force professional pipe bands commanded by 5th Canadian Division: 1st Battalion, The Nova Scotia Highlanders (North) in Amherst, Nova Scotia; and The Cape Breton Highlanders in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The Canadian Army has a number of voluntary brass-reed bands commanded by 5th Canadian Division: CFB Chatham and CFB Greenwood. The Canadian Army has a number of voluntary pipe bands commanded by 5th Canadian Division: CFB Greenwood; CFB Gagetown and 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group The Royal Canadian Regiment in Gagetown, New Brunswick. The Canadian Army has a number of Regular Force professional brass-reed bands commanded by 2nd Canadian Division

Voluntary Bands[edit]

The Canadian Forces has a number of voluntary bands. Voluntary bands are staffed with one or two regular force members who serve as musical instructors and administrators.

The Royal Military College of Canada Bands in Kingston, Ontario, consist of a voluntary brass-reed and a voluntary pipe band, commanded by National Defence Headquarters (Canada)

List of Canadian Forces military bands[edit]

Royal Canadian Navy

Royal Canadian Air Force

Canadian Army


Canadian military bands perform at Quebec City Military Tattoo
Grand Patriotic Rally with Pipe band of The Canadian Highlanders

The Pipe and Drum sections and Brass and Reed section are both authorized Canadian Regular Force voluntary bands.[3] This status, as defined in Queen's Regulations and Orders Chapter 32 and the Canadian Forces Band Instructions, requires that the bands follow all of the applicable Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces regulations concerning military bands and the provision of musical support. Additionally, all band uniforms must be as described in Chapters 5 and 6 of the Canadian Forces Dress Instructions.


Military bands and pipe bands perform at Military Tattoos within and outside Canada, festivals of military bands, and at civilian competitions presenting a musical gathering of pipes and drums, musical mass performances, with choreographies and multi-media effects.

Bands in the Canadian Cadet Organizations[edit]

Volunteer bands with representatives from the regular and volunteer bands of the Armed Forces are present in all the 3 Canadian Cadet Organizations, and these are staffed mostly by proficient cadets from the aforementioned organizations.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Canadian Forces Military Bands and Marches Volume 1 Band Instructions A-PD-202-001/FP-000 (Ottawa, National Defence, 1992)
  • CWO (Ret'd) Jack Kopstein CD When the Band Begins to Play: A History of Military Music in Canada (1992).
  • CWO (Ret'd) Jack Kopstein CD & Ian Pearson The Heritage of Military Music in Canada (St. Catharines, Ont.: Vanwell Pub., 2002)
  • CWO (Ret'd) Jack Kopstein CD & Ian Pearson The History of the Marches in Canada: Regimental/Branch/Corps (Hignell Printing Ltd, 1994).

External links[edit]