As a fifth-grader at Fritsch Elementary School, Josh Tucker was given a choice - music or band.
"I didn't really like my music class, so I decided to take band," he said. "I chose the trumpet."
He had no way of knowing at the time that the impetuous decision would shape the rest of his life. Josh continued to play the trumpet through middle school and was an active member of the band at Carson High School.
As he looked to his future after graduation, he at one point considered the military, then dismissed the idea.
As a junior, he spoke to a recruiter for the Marines who told him about the military band.
"When I heard that idea, I realized it could actually happen," Josh said.
His father, Andrew, was immediately on board. But they knew that Josh's mom, Tamara, would need to be persuaded.
"It took some convincing by the recruiter as well as by us," Andrew recounted. "She eventually got into the idea and became very supportive."
Now 19, the 2011 Carson High School graduate has completed basic training and in June was accepted as a trumpet player in the 1st Marine Division Band at Camp Pendleton.
Although new to the band, one thing has already become clear to the lance corporal.
"There is no normal day," Josh said. "It just depends on what gigs we have lined up."
He said there are days when the band plays up to three times, usually at change-of-command or retirement ceremonies.
Other days, they have no performances scheduled. Even so, he said, they're never bored.
"There's plenty of work to be done around the band hall," he said.
Although the demands of the military can be stiff, he said, it has its rewards, as well.
"It's a brotherhood," he said. "There's people I've known for maybe a month I'm already extremely close to."
One of Josh's first civilian performances was in Reno's Wingfield Park on the Fourth of July.
For his parents, who were always involved with Josh's band activities and felt the void after he left, it was a welcome surprise.
"Right off the bat, we got to see him perform," Andrew said. "We hadn't seem him since Dec. 26, so that was really nice."
When Josh returns to Camp Pendleton this weekend after two weeks' leave in Carson City, he knows he can expect more ceremonies, which means playing a lot of "Stars and Stripes" and other marches.
He's also looking forward to playing as part of Fleet Week in October and the Rose Parade on New Year's Day. He's hoping to add another to his list of upcoming performances as well.
His parents are working to enter the 1st Marine Division Band in the annual Nevada Day Parade. They're hoping local businesses will donate food and lodging to make it easier for the band to make the commitment.
Josh, who marched regularly with the Blue Thunder Marching Band in the state's yearly celebration of statehood, would be happy to return.
"It would be fun to march in that parade again," he said.
Other potential assignments aren't as inviting.
As a trumpet player, Josh knows he will be called up to play taps at funerals during his career. It's important, he said, to remain professional despite the emotions the music typically evokes.
"I don't think there's any way to train for that," he said. "It's just something you have to figure out. It's definitely one of the things you don't ever want to do, but it's an honor to do."