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May 1963 Do We Appreciate Our Heritage? By Paul Yoder

A college student who is planning to enter the profession of medicine, law, or engineering, can go to the library and read extensively about his chosen field and famous men and women who have made it great. Such is not the case with a young man or woman who is about to embark on a career as a music director. We have very little in the way of written history and tradition or of the biographies of the leaders in our profession.
   Two years ago, I had the opportunity to direct the work of a graduate seminar at the University of Colorado on the subject, “A Brief History of Bands in the United States.” The number of books available for reference in this area was pitifully small. The biographies of leaders in the field of band music numbered no more than half a dozen.
   And yet some of the most colorful men in music have been the directors of bands, the composers of band music, and the soloists who became known throughout the world by their performance with these bands. Who would not thrill to the life story of Arthur Pryor, Herbert L. Clarke, Henry Fillmore, Karl L. King, Frank Simon, or Bohumir Kryl? Yet none of these stories have been set down in any lasting form. These men, and many others, led the way to the development of bands and band music in America.
   A few years ago, at the summer music camp in Gunnison, Colorado, it was my privilege to introduce the late Dr. A. A. Harding at a banquet for band directors. Two of the younger men in the field asked me, “Who is he?” To which I replied, “He is probably the principal reason that you have a position as band director in the public schools at the present time.”
   It is highly important that we do not lose track of the background of the present school music program. There are many stories that need’ to be gathered together and set down in type before it is too late.
   How many of you ever attended any of the National Band Clinics at the University of Illinois during the late twenties and all thru the thirties? It was here, as a teacher in the public schools of Aurora, Illinois, that I had the opportunity to see and hear the great men who pioneered in our profession. It was here also that I first heard the magnificent sound of a fine concert band with complete instrumentation, skillful performers, and inspired leadership. The experiments in transcription and composition carried on then led to the vast store of exciting literature, which is available to the band today.
   An editorial in the March 1963, issue of The Instrumentalist called attention to the need for organized research into the history of instrumental music in the schools. I believe this is a most important work and should be undertaken as soon as possible by those who are properly qualified to do it.
   In the field of band music, an outstanding contributor to an insight into the past has been Kenneth Berger, formerly of Evansville, Indiana, and now living in Kent, Ohio. Mr. Berger has spent many years in careful research that has resulted in the publication of his Band Encyclopedia, which I find one of the most valuable reference books of its kind. In this volume he has gathered lists of music, records, bands, bandsmen, and all manner of data in this area.

Research Guide
   In correspondence with Mr. Berger, he writes that the most difficult problem he faces is to find the proper source material for such research. The memorabilia of famous bands and bandmasters is scattered throughout the world and is often difficult to track down. Mr. Berger feels that the first effort in such a program should be the creation of a Guide to the Location of Band Research Materials. From there, everyone interested in the project could take off in his own direction and follow the story of a particular field of endeavor.
   As President of the American Bandmasters Association for the coming year, I am hoping that our organization can take the lead in establishing just such a guide. I would welcome any information as to the location of historical data in the field of bands and band music. I am also most interested in the stories of the famous men of our profession. (Address: 2208 N.E. 26th Court, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.)
   We have already had several significant contributions in the way of books in this general area during the past year. Col. George S. Howard’s book, The Big Serenade, follows the U.S. Air Force Band across five continents to tell the story of their role as “Musical Ambassadors of Good Will.” Harold Bachman’s recent book, The Million Dollar Band, is the fascinating story of the transition of an Army Band, which he conducted in World War I to the famous professional band that bore his name through the era of the traveling concert band in this country.
   The Wind Band, by Richard Franko Goldman, should be required reading for anyone concerned with bands and band music. His analysis of original music for band offers invaluable information in choosing the proper repertoire and the sections devoted to the origin and development of the band are intensely interesting.
   We need a whole library – a five-foot shelf and more – of books of this kind, which tell the story of the band. Young people who are about to enter our profession deserve to know its history, how it grew, and the men who made it great. It is the responsibility of those who know this story to see that it is set down for all time while the facts are still available. 

   Paul Yoder, recently elected president of the American Bandmasters Association, received the Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota and the Master’s degree from Northwestern University. In 1958 the University of North Dakota presented him an honorary Doctor of Music degree. In 1933, after teaching several years at the high school level, he began to devote full time to composing and arranging for school bands. His compositions now number more than 600, and are to be found in the libraries of most schools and colleges. Mr. Yoder has conducted clinics and festivals in nearly every state of the union. He is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers; Phi Beta Kappa; Phi Mu Alpha; Kappa Kappa Psi; and the American Bandmaster’s Association.