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History of the Texas Bandmasters Association

A Short History of the Texas Bandmasters Association -- Dr. Steve Shoop

img For the last half-century the members of Texas Bandmasters Association have worked diligently to further the cause of instrumental music education in communities throughout the Lone Star State. As a professional service organization, TBA reaches out through its membership to constantly improve the quality of music education in Texas' elementary, middle and high schools, colleges and universities.

Introduction

The Texas Bandmasters Association was formed in 1920 by a small group of Texas bandmasters to organize band contests and promote bands. Since that time, the association has evolved into the largest state band organization in the world. The following paragraphs present a short history of the five periods of TBA history from 1920 to the present day.

Period 1 - Texas Bandmasters Association (TBA), 1920-1924

The original Texas Bandmasters Association was formed in 1920 in Waxahachie. The association's primary activity was to organize and promote an annual band contest. The primary leader during this period was Waxahachie bandmaster James E. King.

Period 2 - Texas Band Teachers Association (TBTA), 1924-1936

The name of the organization was changed to the Texas Band Teachers Association in January, 1925 to reflect the movement from town bands to public school bands. The primary leaders during the period were Colonel Earl D. Irons, D.O. Wiley, Richard J. Dunn, and Everett McCracken. It is interesting to note that all four of these individuals were college/university band directors and members of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association.

Period 3 - Texas School Band and Orchestra Association (TSBOA), 1936-1938

This organization extended membership to orchestra directors in 1936. After a great deal of discussion, the name was changed to the Texas School Band and Orchestra Association. During this time period, efforts were made to establish affiliations between state band associations (like the TSBOA) and the National School Band and Orchestra Association. It is interesting to note that these efforts never materialized. Vocal directors were admitted to the association in 1938 and the name was changed to the Texas Music Educators Association. That organization exists to the present day.

Period 4 - Texas Bandmasters Association (TBA), 1940-1948

After several years of the TMEA many of the state's bandmasters wished again for an association exclusively for band directors. At a called meeting during the TMEA convention on February 1, 1940 in Mineral Wells, a group of these directors reactivated the Texas Bandmasters Association. The primary leader of this effort was Colonel Earl D. Irons. During the early 1040s, TBA activities were limited to a Thursday night 'meeting' held during annual TMEA conventions. Since TMEA meetings were cancelled in 1943, 1944, and 1945 because of travel restrictions due to the war, TBA did not meet at all. At the annual meeting in 1946, definite plans were made to organize a separate TBA clinic-convention centered on marching band techniques and new music.

Period 5 - The Modern Texas Bandmasters Association (TBA), 1948-Present

The modern TBA began with the first TBA clinic-convention at Alamo Heights High School, in San Antonio, on September 2, 3, and 4, 1948. The organizer and first president was Pat Arsers. These annual events have taken place ever since and have all been held in San Antonio. Initially, the clinic-conventions centered on marching band techniques and new music. Over the years, this general concept has been expanded and now includes virtually every aspect of public school band work.

Dr. Steve Shoop
Ennis, Texas
January 23, 2004

Further Reading

Interested persons are invited to read Dr. Shoop's doctoral dissertation entitled The Texas Bandmasters Association: A Historical Study of Activities, Contributions, and Leadership (1920-1997). The document may be accessed free-of-charge on the internet through the University of North Texas Library website.