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CBDNA - Teaching Music - Roles and Responsibilities




Historically, the acceptance of the band into the public schools as a curricular subject had nothing to do with music as an art, "music for every child/every child for music" or even music as a part of a complete education.

Bands came into the public school curriculum in the 'teens and 20's of the 20th century because it was found that they could bring esteem to their school or town through winning a band contest. Or because the football game needed a halftime show or graduation needed ceremonial music. A tenet of Dewey's Progressive Education Movement was to have the school mirror the values of the community. And back then, every community had at least one town band. Its function was to entertain.

Unlike the widely accepted view that the wind ensemble developed from the heritage of literature by Mozart, Berlioz, Gounod and Strauss, the school band heritage is clearly derivative of the town band tradition. (Town bands were influenced by the military and professional band traditions.) The school band's initial acceptance into the school day was due to its utilitarian function and was ultimately, extremely successful. By 1940, virtually every public school in the country had a band.

College and university band programs in this country had a similar genesis. Connections with ROTC or the football team brought the first bands to the college campus. Since the 1950s, however, it is clear that the college wind ensemble has successfully moved beyond its role as a provider of situational music (football games and graduation) to a medium primarily of artistic/aesthetic worth.

The public school programs may have evolved to some extent but have largely kept their functionary role. In addition, many school music programs have embraced music teaching in band more comprehensively. The implementation of the state and national standards including theory, criticism, interdisciplinary studies, improvising, composing and singing along with portfolio and other assessment tools have expanded the school band's charge well beyond that of the traditional performance model.

Now the questions remain: What does the secondary school band program have in common with its collegiate counterpart? To what extent should the college wind conductor be concerned with the public school band director's world?


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