The Importance of Preserving Music Education History
Notes da Capo - By John L. Puffenbarger, Past WVMEA Historian
One day this past summer, I was
sorting through some music in our piano bench. On the bottom was a folder I had
forgotten about that contained an eighteen page souvenir program entitled
"Sousa and his Band, Lieut. Commander
John Philip Sousa Conductor." The band presented
a matinee concert at the Fairmont Theatre on November 8, 1923. My mother was a
The program is interesting because it lists the selections the band played and the soloists who performed. It also has articles about the Sousa band, advertisements from various companies, and pictures of Sousa and his band. Meredith Wilson, who later wrote “The Music Man”, was one of the soloists. The program cost ten cents.
This incident demonstrates the
importance of preserving history. I had no idea that John Philip Sousa
We alternated the members of the
bands as well as the majorette corps. The drum major of the W-I band led the
group. The band played Hail West Virginia as it marched down the parade
route. I don't remember the exact number, but there must have been at least 300
students in the band. The windows in the stores along
One year, when I was band director
Every music teacher has many stories to tell about past happenings. Those stories are part of our rich musical heritage. Take time to write stories about past activities and performances by groups in your school. Talk to former directors at the school, and include their stories in a printed document. Save programs, pictures, and recordings. Remember: the activities we are engaged in today will be tomorrow's history.
Last year, Craig Lee began a project to document the history of the bands and band directors in Jefferson County Schools. It will be an important historical paper that future musicians in the county will value. As is the case with projects of a creative nature, the method of organizing and writing historical papers is up to the individual.
Saving documents is important for another reason. We can learn from past activities and can make better decisions for the future if we take time to study past actions. If you have taught for a few years, I'm sure you have attended a WVMEA affiliate meeting when someone has brought up a "new" issue, and you probably thought, "We discussed that a few years ago."
The music teachers who have developed
music programs in our schools in the past deserve to be recognized for their
dedication to the children of our state. I am grateful to the music teachers
who helped me during my career (Harold Glasgow, Richard Wellock,
Henry A. Mayer, Richard Lawson, and Saul Fisher, to name a few). Music store owner Fred Ross was of tremendous help
in the development of an outstanding instrumental program in
WVMEA has a rich heritage of music history, and much of it is recorded in past issues of Notes A Tempo, and in the "Notes da Capo" articles on the WVMEA website. We also have documents from WVMEA and its affiliate organizations on file in the WVU Downtown Library. The records are stored in the West Virginia & Regional History Collection.
(Editor's note: Dr. Clifford Brown
served as WVMEA Historian from 1983 to 1988 and wrote eighteen "Notes da Capo" articles about music education in