NOTES DA CAPO - By Clifford Brown
April/May 1987

He was a pioneer in the development of school orchestras, a philosopher, author, administraum, editor, conductor, recipient of a doctorate, MENC president, and chairman and member of national educational and research groups too numerous to list. He was self educated, was a high school dropout, never attended a college, but he was one of the most influential music educators in the nation through his years of teaching and writing from 1918 to 1956. Today's teachers may not know of him, but they probably are utilizing some of his philosophy and methods in their teaching.

Though this great leader, Dr. Will Earhart, was Director of Music from 1912 to 1940 in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, just seventy miles north of Morgantown, there is no record that he ever appeared professionally in West Virginia. However, a number of his proteges and students from his graduate classes at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon became teachers and administrators in West Virginia and, of course, throughout the nation.

When Earhart was Supervisor of Music in Richmond, Indiana, 1898-1912, the Richmond High School Orchestra - which he had developed - performed at the Music Supervisors National Conference (later the MENC). The supervisors could not believe what they were seeing and hearing - probably the first high school orchestra in the nation to achieve symphonic proportions.

The excitement created by this orchestra motivated the supervisors to go back home with an enthusiastic attitude about school orchestra. Earhart became an immediate celebrity. In addition to orchestral music, Richmond was one of the first to give credit for high school music elective courses such as harmony, music history, and chorus. Within the next two decades, 1910-1930, the community orchestra movement accelerated, due in large part to the many disciples of Will Earhart.