RAF Voluntary Bands are usually concert wind bands (some are brass bands) that often carry out ceremonial duties as well. The concert wind band is probably the most versatile of all instrumental ensembles. It consists of all types of brass and woodwind instruments, from the cornet to the tuba, and the piccolo to the baritone saxophone supported, of course, by percussion. Bands are able to perform a wide range of music from the marches of Sousa to the film themes of John Williams. The presence of a saxophone section provides the extra colour needed for rhythm & blues, or big band, numbers, while the versatile trumpets add brilliance to dance band pieces and well-known pop tunes. The euphoniums and baritones provide a traditional brass band touch while the range of the clarinets does justice to the show numbers. Some of the Bands also run their own big bands, smaller instrumental groups and fanfare teams.
Every voluntary band has its own recognised catchment area for players. Therefore, everyone working at the units within a catchment area is eligible to become involved with the respective RAF Voluntary Band. Membership is open to all service personnel, their dependants and MOD employed civilians.
The Bands undertake a wide range of engagements – their main work is centred around providing musical support for:
- Dining In Nights in the Officers' or Sergeants' mess.
- Parades – Local civic parades, Battle of Britain Sunday and the Remembrance Sunday Parades.
- Charity Concerts – Where we have the opportunity to raise money for the Station charities.
- Balls, Parties and Weddings – Most of the bands run Big Bands and smaller ensembles for summer balls and weddings.