From Antiquity to Academia: A History of Early American Brass Bands and a Way Forward for Their Adaptation within Institutions of Higher Learning



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The American Brass Band Movement (1835-1892) is an important period within music history that is disproportionally and inadequately taught in collegiate music history classrooms. By learning about America’s band history and by performing in these ensembles, future music educators will be able to have a more well-rounded understanding of the instruments, the repertoire, and the cultural importance of bands in our community. This dissertation provides a history of the American Brass Band Movement in addition to exploring the resurrection of contemporary early American brass bands.With the goal of making early American brass bands standard ensembles within collegiate music programs, this dissertation also discusses some of the problems and difficulties one may face when forming or performing in one. There are currently at least fifty early American brass bands active in the United States, most of which model themselves after Civil War brass bands and only one of which is currently affiliated with a major university. Early American brass bands not only bring to life the early band music of America, but they also have the potential to provide a number of highly valuable learning opportunities for students in colleges and universities. If these ensembles are adopted within institutions of higher learning, college music students can learn about popular nineteenth century musical genres, accomplished composers, virtuosic soloists, notable bands, and innovative instruments with hands-on experiences. The bands can entertain and inform audiences with music from the period as well as provide the university with a valuable ceremonial brass ensemble and unique marching arts ensemble. They will help bring people together and have them participate in a collective music-making that is part teaching the past and part enlightening the present and future.