A history of the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association: 1959-2009
Moore, Kenneth James
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The purpose of this study was to extend the documented history of the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) by providing a chronological account of the organization from 1959 to 2009 with historical context and insight into circumstances and individuals that influenced and shaped the organization during that period. Official records, Association publications, and first-hand accounts are compiled into a narrative of the organization. The study is a continuance of a previous historical examination of the formative years (1934-1959) of the MSBOA by James Burnham Hause. Formed in 1934, the MSBOA evolved from the need for leadership in school instrumental music and gave teachers the power to govern activities that affected their students through debate and the democratic process. The primary goal of the founders was to raise standards of musical performance through "competition-festivals." The history of the MSBOA from 1959 to 2009 can be drawn into four periods. During the first period (1959 to 1973), the MSBOA abandoned its long-held practice of remaining autonomous to become a department of the Michigan Education Association; this decision was a post-Sputnik reaction to gain academic credibility and become "more than just a festival association" (a mantra used by MSBOA leaders of the period) by focusing on such matters as curriculum development and the creation of string programs. The organization began the second period (1973 to 1984) by separating from the Michigan Education Association and assuming an introspective posture, which led to a continual emphasis on revising its festival systems, especially the band and orchestra festival. After the celebration of its fiftieth anniversary in 1984, the MSBOA entered the third period (1984 to 1997), during which it largely addressed federal and state educational reform initiatives and computer technology development. During the final period (1997 to 2009), the Association focused on expanding its website to improve services to the membership, creating the state's first all-state bands and orchestras, and helping establish a new conference for music educators. The author found that the MSBOA supported and served instrumental music education in Michigan in two important ways by 1) providing a strong system of festivals and other performance activities for students; and 2) offering multiple professional development opportunities for music teachers. The MSBOA cooperated at times with other arts and educational organizations in the state on various projects; however, because of the MSBOA's determination to remain autonomous, its relationship with the Michigan Music Educators Association (the state chapter of the MENC) was contentious for decades. The lack of a strong partnership among the state's four independent music education associations-the MSBOA, the Michigan School Vocal Association, the Michigan unit of the American String Teachers Association, and the Michigan Music Educators Association-weakened both their individual and collective attempts to address reforms affecting music education.
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