RAF Voluntary Band Association

Since RAF voluntary bands (VBs) first appeared in the 1920s they have remained important to the life, routine and ethos of the Service. Volunteer musicians – as members of corps of drums, brass bands, military bands, wind bands and pipe bands – have contributed to the RAF’s strong musical tradition. Now, they continue to emulate the standard set by the established Bands under the Principal Director of Music (PDM (RAF)). The RAF Voluntary Band Association (VBA) was founded in 1993 to represent RAF voluntary brass, concert, military and wind bands at home and abroad, and to foster the interests of their volunteer musicians (The RAF Pipe Band Association (RAF PBA) caters similarly for the needs of RAF voluntary pipe bands).

RAF VBs are mentored and administered by VB Instructors (VBIs) who are responsible to Station Commanders, through Officers-In-Charge (OICs) and the local chain of command, for the musical and administrative conduct of the Band. VBIs are appropriately qualified and experienced musical directors whose (Civil Service) appointments are funded by Stations and centrally co-ordinated by HQ Air, with the assistance of the RAF VBA. The RAF VBA, in conjunction with PDM (RAF), advises on the standards and musical ability expected during the recruitment of VBIs.

The aims of the RAF VBA, exercised through the VBs where appropriate, are to:

  • Promote a practical interest in music in the RAF, thereby extending support for ceremonial and other occasions through the existence of VBs.
  • Improve the morale and welfare of the RAF by providing a cultural and recreational outlet for the talents of musicians of all ranks from every Branch and Trade.
  • Enhance the RAF’s image and standing through involvement with and support for the local community.
  • Provide a forum for the exchange of ideas between VBIs, OICs, HQ Music Services (RAF) and the RAF Ceremonial Office and hence co-ordinate support for the operation and administration of VBs.

The RAF VBA promotes co-operation with:

  • HQ Music Services (RAF) and the established bands.
  • The RAF Pipe Bands Association.
  • The Royal Naval Volunteer Bands Association.
  • Air Training Corps Bands.
  • Other, appropriate musical bodies.
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