Essay on The History of the Bands of America National Concert Band Festival

Essay on The History of the Bands of America National Concert Band Festival

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Since the early twentieth century, the role of music contests and festivals has been integral to the growth and development of school band programs, and parallel to this role has been the discussion of the function of competition in these events. In a study of the first national band tournament Holz (1960) asserted that “[The contest] provided the occasion and the reason for the merging of musical, educational, and commercial efforts in a common cause – the simultaneous democratization and artistic improvement of instrumental music in schools”. Joseph E. Maddy, the first full time Supervisor of Music in Rochester, New York, spoke favorably of the early band contests; “The radical changes in instrument manufacturing, band publications, and improved performance standards which occurred would have taken one hundred years had it not been for the contest movement” (Fonder, 1983). Despite the positive responses from Holz and Maddy, Birge (1966) reported, “ Early in the contest movement educators felt that the intensely competitive factor lessened the educational value of the events”. Music educators of this period were also critical of the (1) contest format, (2) eligibility requirements, (3) adjudication procedures, and (4) the emphasis on “winning” (Payne, 1997). The positive and negative traits of these early band contests have been reported by many (Burdett, 1985; Moore. 1972; Hansen, 2004; Holz, 1960; Humphreys, 1981; Whitehill, 1969; Yarberry, 1979), but the role of competition and contests continues to divide the music profession philosophically and serve as a catalyst for debate when discussing their place in music education.


At the onset of the twentieth century singing was still the fundamental activity in schools, and sc...


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...A: MENC: The National Association for Music Education.
Moore, J.E. (1968). The national school band contests from 1926 to 1931. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan, 1968). Retrieved March 1, 2007, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text database. (Publication No. AAT 3250254).
Payne, B. (1997). A review of research on band competition. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 33(1), 1-21.
Yarberry, G.A. (1979). An overview of the past, present and future of the band movementin America. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 14(2), 1-9.
Whitehill, C.D. (1969). Sociological conditions which contributed to the growth of theschool band movement in the United States. Journal of Research in Music Education, 17(2), 179-192.
Zorn, J (1989, Nov.). The changing role of instrumental music. Music Educators Journal. 76(3), 21-24.

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