Sir Walford Davies and Sir George Dyson recognised the need for music in the newly formed Royal Air Force. In 1918 Royal Air Force Music Services was established to inspire the early Airmen and give them a sense of pride in their new Service.

RAF Music Services performing in front of a Chinook helicopter

Based at RAF Northolt and RAF Cranwell, RAF Music supports over 600 engagements worldwide every year. From supporting public duties such as The Changing of the King’s Guard on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace to performing Service charity concerts across the United Kingdom, RAF Music is renowned for its musical excellence.

Our Mission

To provide optimum musical support for the Royal Air Force in order to enhance public perception, support State Ceremonial and achieve influence to further Defence and National interests.

A variety of musical ensembles in each band allows RAF Music to be flexible to support many different occasions. Brass and woodwind quintets regularly accompany Dining in/Guest Nights and perform chamber music concerts. As well as performing in concert and on parade, each band also has larger woodwind and brass ensembles, a jazz group and a big band. RAF Music proudly supports the RAF at a huge variety of engagements in the United Kingdom and overseas.

Logo for RAF Music Services

Roles of the RAF Music Services

The Central Band of the Royal Air Force was established in 1920, is located at RAF Northolt,. The Band was the first ensemble outside the United States of America to be awarded the John Philip Sousa Citation for Musical Excellence, recognising a reputation for the highest standards of performance. Leading characters Tom Fletcher and Danny Jones from pop rock band McFly have enjoyed working and performing with the Central Band of the RAF. The Band also recently premiered a new commission Lights Out in Space by Andrew Pearce and in 2022 recorded soundtracks for the film Lancaster.

Central Band of the RAF marching down the Mall

The Band of the Royal Air Force College was formed in 1920 at the prestigious RAF Cranwell where its home has been ever since.  Although its primary function is to provide musical support for the College, the Band has earned acclaim within its own right, notably becoming the first ever military band to be broadcast in a live concert on Sky Arts. Now over a century old, the Band continues to perform at a diverse range of venues and engagements such as recording a Naxos CD of the works of Saint-Saens’ under the baton of world-renowned German conductor, Jun Markl.

The Band of the RAF College marching outside College Cranwell

The Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment was formed at RAF Belton Park in 1942 and is now at RAF Northolt. In 2019, the Band was honoured to be present in Normandy in early June to play a part in commemoration events for the 75th anniversary of D-Day which was attended by senior Royals and Heads of States. In October 2019 the Band supported the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Land Down Under in Sydney, Australia, performing as part of a tri-Service contingent. The Band of the RAF Regiment celebrated its 80th Anniversary in 2022.

Band of the RAF Regiment marching outside Windsor Castle

The Royal Air Force Salon Orchestra, based at RAF Northolt, is a 7-piece strings and piano ensemble that performs for Royal, State, and ceremonial occasions across the UK and around the world. The Orchestra’s roots are traceable to 1937 when some of London’s finest string players were recruited for the RAF Symphony Orchestra, which found eminence in the war years. As National Service came to an end, the RAF Symphony Orchestra was significantly reduced, and the RAF Salon Orchestra was established in 1949. Today, this versatile ensemble performs in a variety of settings from intimate formal dinners to prestigious concert venues.

RAf Salon Orchestra with their instruments outside a grand building

The Royal Air Force Squadronaires was formed in 1939 from London’s top dance band musicians. Their big band tradition continues with the Platinum certified album In the Mood which reached top 10 in the UK album chart in 2010. The 2017 album Vera Lynn 100 was Gold certified and performed at the London Palladium. The Band regularly features on television and has performed alongside Sir Tom Jones, Sir Cliff Richard, Will Young and the USAF Airmen of Note.

RAF Squadronaires performing on stage

The Royal Air Force Swing Wing, formed in 1989, is an 18-piece big band based at RAF Cranwell. The Band has enjoyed working with many of Britain’s most renowned musical figures including award-winning vocalist Matt Ford and legendary saxophonist Tommy Whittle. A recent highlight for Swing Wing was performing at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Stanford Hall in 2022 for injured Service Personnel and their families.

RAF Swing Wing performing on stage

The Band of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) is a RAF Reserve unit established for 4 full-time members of staff and 50 musicians serving on a Part-Time Volunteer Reserve contract.  Formed in October 2015, with its Headquarters at RAF Cranwell, Reserve musicians support RAF Music Services alongside their full-time counterparts. Notably, the RAuxAF Band has supported large-scale State Ceremonial events including the RAF 100 celebrations, Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant and the funerals of the Late Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh and Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Band of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force performing outside, focused on the band conductor

Booking Enquiries

To request musical support, please contact our Engagement Coordinator, Flight Sergeant Butcher:

[email protected]

Phone: 0044 (0)300 154 8621 or 0044 (0)7917 051021

All booking enquiries should be made through the Engagements Coordinator at Headquarters Music Services

Requests can be considered up to 12 months in advance of your engagement.

The RAF Bands Allocations Committee normally consider requests 5-6 months prior to the event.

Requests received within 6 weeks of the event will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Requests for trumpeters to support funerals will be actioned as a priority and are not subject to the above.

Media and Communications

For publicity materials or any queries about RAF Music Services, please contact our Media and Communications Officer:

Telephone: 0044 (0)7896 330103

Email: [email protected]


Supported by Buffet CramponSupported by Besson

Connect with RAF Music Services