Academic journal article Journal of Band Research

A. R. Mcallister and the Joliet Township High School Band: 1912-1926

Academic journal article Journal of Band Research

A. R. Mcallister and the Joliet Township High School Band: 1912-1926

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study documents the history of the Joliet Township High School Band (JTHSB) from its origin until 1926, the year the ensemble won its first of four championship titles in national band contests sponsored by the National Bureau for the Advancement of Music and the Committee on Instrumental Affairs- an adjunct of Music Supervisors' National Conference. Questions guiding this research focused on 1) the origin of the JTHSB, 2) the role of the ensemble in the school and community, 3) public appearances, 4) instrumentation, 5) repertoire, 6) the influence of the JTHSB on other school bands in the United States, and 7) the role of director A. R. McAllister in the success of the organization.

A group of senior boys organized the JTHSB in the fall of 1912 for the purpose of improving school spirit and lending support to the football team. In September of 1913, the Board of Education hired Louis Henry Condy, a local music teacher, conductor, and instrument dealer, to instruct the band and organize the group on a permanent basis. Condy made little progress by December of that same year, causing the Board to place Archie Raymond McAllister, an assistant manual training teacher, in charge of the ensemble. Under his direction, the JTHSB developed into one of the best and most emulated high school bands in the country.

A. R. McAllister and the Joliet Township High School Band: 1912-1926

The city of Joliet, Illinois, located 37 miles southwest of Chicago, was incorporated in 1852 and soon became known for its production of steel and limestone. In addition to its industry, the citizenry also boasted a rich cultural heritage due to the many European immigrants settling in the community.1

A new charter for the City of Joliet, in 1857, provided for separate school districts on the east and west sides of the Des Plaines River. Each district had its own Superintendent, but were both were governed by a single Board of Inspectors who reported to the City Council. The first high school was organized in 1858 in a local grammar school before moving to vacant rooms in a downtown bank. In 1880, the city's school systems was consolidated under one Superintendent with high schools established in 1882 for students on the east side, and in 1887 for children on the west side. In 1899, the Joliet Public Schools were divided into separate elementary and high school districts in order to manage an increasing student population. Both entities became independent of the city in 1907 with each managed by its own board and administration. A new township high school, characterized as "the finest high school building in America,"2 opened in 1901 to serve all secondary students in the community. Additions to Joliet Township High School (JTHS) were made in 1915 and 1921-22 to accommodate the increasing number of students seeking admission.3

James M. Thompson initiated music instruction in the Joliet schools in 1892, teaching both high school and grade school music at a salary of $700 per year. Thompson continued in this capacity until 1901 when he assumed the duties of elementary music supervisor in the restructured school system.4 Instrumental music was initiated at JTHS shortly thereafter, with an orchestra organized in 1905 and a student led band in 1912. 5

Though originally organized on an ad hoc basis, the Joliet Township High School Band (JTHSB) eventually played a significant role in the development of instrumental music education in the United States, serving as a model program emulated throughout the country.6 The purpose of this study was to document the history of the JTHSB from its inception until 1926, the year the ensemble won its first of four championship titles in national band contests sponsored by the National Bureau for the Advancement of Music and the Committee on Instrumental Affairs- an adjunct of Music Supervisors National Conference.7 Questions guiding this research included: 1) What were the details surrounding the origin of the JTHSB? …

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