Being a Military Musician

Laurel Reagan at Alphabet Salad inspired me to write about one of my first jobs after I read her post about her first job as a teen working in a bakery which you can read here. MMM, I can smell that fresh bread baking, Laurel. YUM!

Laurel's First Job


Being a Military Musician


The other day as I was driving into Ottawa, I saw two F18s coming in for a landing at the airport. I got so excited when I saw them that it was a good thing I didn't cause an accident. 


As an airforce kid, I still get such a thrill out of seeing a jet since my father was a jet pilot. Also I have been in the military myself.

One of my first jobs was as a Reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces. I was a musician in an Air Reserve Band in Montreal back in the early 1980's in the Cold War Era. 


I still think back fondly on those days as it was not your typical job.

Imagine getting to play music and get paid for it. It seemed too good to be true. Of course it wasn't fun every moment, but it was pretty darn good now that I recall.

I got to travel across Canada to the School of Music in Esquimalt, British Columbia and get training every summer. What a amazing experience for a student in their early twenties. 

Room and board were provided as I stayed in barracks, sharing a room with several other women. We would eat at the mess, a military style cafeteria.

Each day I took music lessons, participated in different bands, marched and played music on the parade square.


There was also all that military stuff to put up with; the never ending orders, room and uniform inspections, the drill, parades, and constant scrutiny by higher ranks, especially officers. 

For a shy soul as I was, I found it tough at first, but got used to it after a while. It was like playing a role in a play when I donned that uniform and I became someone else. Somehow having that mindset helped me cope better.

I got used to having to regularly iron my uniform with perfect razor-like creases in the shirts and pants. I got to be a pro at doing a spit and polish on my boots. To this day, the hubs asks me to polish his shoes since he knows I'll do a good job. My iron has since been retired and barely comes out since I mainly wear clothes that don't need any ironing like knits which are also good for the winter flab. Haha! I did enough ironing for a lifetime, thanks!


I know that the experience of being in the Reserve Band made me mature and grow as an adult. I also grew as a musician and play flute much better as a result.

It expanded my world, gave me opportunities for travel to interesting places and friendships I would never have had in other jobs. 


Once I got to travel up to Ellesmere Island in the High Arctic to work as a labourer as part of a surveying expedition with the Mapping and Charting group based here in Ottawa. It was that job in 1987 that prompted me to move to Ottawa from Montreal.

Here is a photo of me in a flight suit in front of a memorial cairn erected on Ellesmere Island.




I am so grateful I had that experience and remember it fondly as something that shaped me into the person I am now.

Comments

  1. You made me think of my first job...7 years have passed and it still seems like yesterday ! :)

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    1. Time flies, doesn't it, Naba? I can't believe it's been nearly 30 years since I got out of the reserve.

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  2. That must have been a fascinating experience, Cathy. Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Debbie. It was an exciting time for sure. No job after that ever came close as far as the excitement factor.

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  3. What a great experience, the first job is always special.

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    1. So true, Inderpreet. I really found being in the reserve a great growing experience for a shy introvert like me.

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  5. Wow, Cat! I must say, my admiration for you has gone a notch higher! :-)

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    1. Aw, you're sweet, Shilpa. You're pretty special yourself, my dear!

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  6. What an interesting experience that must have been, Cat! And how lucky you were to visit one of my favourite cities in Canada! :) Glad you were inspired to write about this.

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    1. Thanks for giving me the inspiration with your recounting your first job, Laurel. And yes, Victoria/Esquimalt is a gorgeous part of Canada. I'd love to go back as it's been so long now. Nearly 30 years. Yikes!

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  7. That must have been quite an interesting experience. Enjoyed reading about it. And you look so cool in that picture :) Thanks for sharing about your first job experience.

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    1. Thanks so much, Beloo. I appreciate you saying I look cool. Don't get that much these days. Hahaha! It was a fun experience and every job I've had since was never quite as exciting.

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