NOTES DA CAPO - By John Puffenbarger
October, 1990

This past summer marked the end of an era in West Virginia music education. The West Virginia Bandmasters Association annual summer clinic was not held. In 1989 the membership had voted to discontinue the clinic because of declining attendance and lack of purpose; it had outlived its usefulness.

Before 1964 two-day clinic meetings were held in the fall, while annual meetings occurred during the WVMEA Conference. Band directors would gather to select the required music for the spring band festivals, conduct business, and develop programs and projects. During one of the last December meetings Wayne Reger presented a trumpet workshop, a banquet was held for the eighty or so participants, music publishers distributed sample miniature scores, music stores displayed their wares, and music was shown on a large screen while directors listened to recordings.

However, several band directors complained that there was not enough time after the clinic to order music and then prepare it for the spring festivals. They also felt that attendance would be better in the summer (which proved to be incorrect). So, another format was sought.

On 6 December 1963 the WVBA Executive Board met at Morris Harvey College, and among other items discussed a proposal presented by Randall Hall to change the fall clinic from December to July or August. At the WVMEA Conference in Huntington the following April Francis Borkowski invited the WVBA to hold their first summer clinic during the WU Fine Arts Camp. The players and faculty would cooperate to make the session a success and could furnish a clinic band. The invitation was accepted, and the meeting was a success.

In 1965 approximately sixty directors attended the second two-day summer clinic at Marshall University. President Ron Wood noted that this was about 25% of the total WVBA membership, and he was concerned about the lack of active participation at the meeting. For several years thereafter attendance averaged about fifty.

In 1966 Howard Bell did an outstanding job hosting the summer clinic at Marshall University, providing a clinic band to read proposed required festival music, along with reed and marching band workshops. .The WVBA voted at this meeting to elect officers every two years.

Over the years the summer clinics continued to have outstanding clinicians. These included Al Ascercion, Bill Moffitt, Harold Bachman, Nilo Hovey, Bud Udell, Harry Faulk, and Ernie Bastian. Fred Ross and Charles Gorby, who were (and are) not only music dealers but VIVMEA members as well, made most of the arrangements to acquire the clinicians. In addition WVBA members held panel discussions and gave demonstrations. Some of the sessions concerned topics such as "How to Plan an Out-of-State Trip," "Scoring for the Marching Band," "Fund Raising Ideas," and "Correct Clarinet Embouchure."

Meetings were held at various locations such as Mt. Chateau, WVU, Marshall, West Liberty, W.Va. Wesleyan, W.Va. Tech, Concord, and Shepherd. Who could forget the fellowship enjoyed by all the participants at Shepherd College? For instance, Joe Henry was a delight with his unique story telling. Band directors built friendships in a competitive music world that last to this day.

The demise of the summer clinic, however, was on the horizon. Some colleges and music stores began hosting summer workshops on their own; high schools organized band camps; more summer opportunities in music education became available outside the state. Since the WVBA had earlier changed the festival plan and bands no longer had to perform a state required number, the main purpose of the summer clinic was eliminated. As a result attendance plummeted. It was a sinking ship with no freight to throw overboard. Rather than having it repaired, it was cast aside. However, fond memories remain with those who remember the quality of music education in many of the sessions.

(Please send pictures and items concerning West Virginia music education history to John L. Puffenbarger, WVMEA Historian, P.O. Box 6, Buckhannon, WV 26201).