CAF Stories: This saxophonist believes in what he does. What’s your story? #MyCAFStory

Video / July 21, 2016


I’m Sergeant Rob McKinnon and I’m the principle saxophonist with the Governor General’s Foot Guard’s band. In my day job I support army public affairs by managing tasks for the Image Techs, and making sure that we can get Image Techs out to jobs to collect imagery for Army Public Affairs.

There’s much more to it than just sitting in a chair and playing my saxophone. I mean there’s a lot of preparation that goes into it. There’s the little things, like polishing your boots, ironing your pants, taking a dog hair off your pants because it doesn’t belong there. There’s something special about playing my instrument in uniform with the Governor General’s Foot Guards. Of course we’re in our iconic scarlet tunics and people recognize that, and that stands for something. It stands for our determination; it stands for our professionalism. And so we go out and we perform to the absolute best of our ability.

Working for the GGFG band can be a real challenge to balance family life. Often we’ll work between ten and twelve, maybe fourteen nights, in a month. Including rehearsals, engagements, mess dinners and those sorts of things. So every one of those events takes me away from home. With a young son at home, he’ll be sixteen months this week, I have to believe in what I’m doing in order to justify that time away from home. I have to feel like I’m doing something somewhat important. And I do. It’s not just me, it’s a concerted effort from all of the members of the band. Everybody has to contribute more than just playing an instrument, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to accomplish as much as we accomplish.

The GGFG band has inherited some groupies from the Ceremonial Guard band. We communicate with people, and you don’t need to understand a different language in order to understand our music. It gets peoples’ toes tapping, it stirs passions in people, and it presents a side of our heritage and tradition that people are comfortable with and familiar with.

When we play a concert we…there’s a lot of smiling faces leaving the concert. You can see people tapping their toes, you can see kids becoming inspired by it. It would be a big loss for me to not be a part of the GGFG band anymore. There’s a feeling of pride when I play in uniform. I very much enjoy it.  

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