Marching sound machines: an autoethnography of a director of bands at an Historically Black College and University
Reid Sr., Jorim Edgar
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The purpose of this dissertation was to elucidate my lived experiences as an HBCU band director as I navigated through tensions within HBCU culture, between HBCU culture and the dominant culture, and issues of inequality, and access. I chronicle my early life and influences to bring clarity and meaning to the choices and decisions made as I transitioned to becoming an HBCU student and then band director at an early age. It was my intention to use autoethnographic self-examination and personal narrative to make transparent racial inequality as it: (a) impacts the academic and musical quality of HBCU band programs, (b) raises questions regarding access to resources, and (c) elicits larger and more complex questions related to race and culture. In addition to a thorough review of my personal recollections and historical artifacts, I also sought to interview as many people as possible that had impacted me, my life, and HBCU bands in order to check my memory and perspectives. As the word got out about my project, hundreds in the HBCU community reached out wanting to participate. Of the eighty-seven persons that agreed to an interview, I was able to interview fifty-two. I analyzed my story through the framework of "Double-Consciousness Theory" as articulated by W. E. B. Du Bois, specifically through the concepts of the veil, the color line, and twoness. The guiding question for my inquiry was: Why is the musicianship of HBCU bands praised by one culture and viewed in a mostly deficit view in another, and how did an HBCU band director navigate these tensions to lead two successful programs? The findings demonstrate that there are multiple and conflicting expectations and perceptions of HBCU band programs. By considering HBCU bands through my own experience of double-consciousness it was possible to amplify the voices of marginalized groups and provide more nuanced understandings to those who have a one-dimensional view of such band programs.