NOTES DA CAPO by John L. Puffenbarger

Winter 2006


A high school teacher once told our class, "If you want to be successful, you must be organized." Even opera isn’t free from mistakes due to lack of proper planning. A celebrated episode happened during a performance of Tosca. According to the version

I heard, a rather inept stage crew was confused as to the props they were to set up. At the end of the opera, the soprano playing the title role was required to throw herself off the battlements of a fortress, because her lover had been shot.

On this occasion, the stage-crew had put a trampoline in place instead of a pile of mattresses that was to be used. After ‘committing suicide’ in the low point of her despair, Tosca threw herself off the fortress and bounced back into view above the battlements a dozen times. She had more lives than a cat. The performance was a disaster due to the lack of organization by the stage crew.

Educators have long recognized the need to be organized to promote common interests. One of the first national organizations was the National Education Association, which began in 1857. The first national assemblage of teachers organized exclusively in the interest of music was the National Music Congress, which met in Boston in 1869.

After the formation of the NEA, similar types of organizations were developed in several states. About 1920, in West Virginia, the Music Section was formed as part of the Secondary Education Association. Topics for discussion at Music Section meetings included the song-method, the scale method, the child voice, the teaching of rhythm and the growing importance of high school music. Music supervisors and college music faculty worked together to get music included in the school curriculum.

In the spring of 1936, several music teachers realized they could improve the quality of music education in West Virginia schools if they had an organization of their own. They made plans to affiliate with the Music Educators National Conference. We do not have a record of the meetings that were held that spring and summer.

The newly named West Virginia Music Educators Association met in Huntington on November 13, 1936 at the Hotel Frederick. After a luncheon, Dr. Joseph Maddy, president of the Music Educators National Conference, extended greetings on behalf of the MENC. The following officers were elected by acclamation: Frank Cuthbert, president; Pauline Mattingly, secretary; and Marie Boette, Treasurer.

The West Virginia Music Educators Association was born. The membership included

mostly choral teachers, county music supervisors, and elementary specialists. Plans to

unite all music groups would not be finalized until July 1, 1963, when the West Virginia

Bandmasters Association became affiliated with WVMEA. In the meantime, West

Virginia Band Directors were urged to join both the Bandmasters Association and the

WVMEA. Today the WVMEA Executive Board is comprised of nineteen affiliate organizations.

Edwin M. Stickel, Director of Music at Oglebay Institute in Wheeling, spoke about "The Relation of Music and the Community." J Henry Francis made an address to the group entitled, Band Versus Orchestra". Mr. Cuthbert announced that there were three scholarships in the Department of Music at West Virginia University. Each scholarship was in the amount of $60.00 per year for four years.

Mr. Lichty reported that the West Virginia Bandmasters Association was studying

State certification. The committee recommends that a bachelor degree should be a minimum requirement. It was also recommended that band directors should have a

twelve-month contract, and that state colleges should sponsor annual band clinics.

Mr. Cuthbert announced that three scholarships were available from the department of music at West Virginia University. Each scholarship offered $60.00 per year for four years. The scholarships would become available in the fall term of 1937.Marie Botte suggested that a general meeting be held in January 1937 to make plans for the state chorus and orchestra. As the meeting drew to a close, the WVMEA began its journey to promote music education in the schools of West Virginia. It would be a journey filled with excitement and many success stories.

In observance of the 70th anniversary of WVMEA, a compilation of all 95 Notes da

Capo articles from 1983 to the Winter 2006 issue is being published in booklet form during the spring of 2006. An order form can be found in this issue of NOTES A TEMPO. Don’t miss the opportunity to add this one-time publication of rich history to your library. If you wish to order a copy, please mail the form today. The cost is $10.00. The deadline is March 2006.