"History Repeats Itself - 1939 and 1993"

NOTES DA CAPO - By John Puffenbarger
November, 1992

Nineteen thirty nine was an interesting year. After seeing the Wizard of Oz, staring Judy Garland, movie goers were anxiously awaiting the release of Gone With the Wind, and Maurice Taylor was putting the finishing touches on his new method book, Easy Steps to the Band. (Note: Mr. Taylor is now living in Montrose, Pennsylvania).

West Virginia music teachers gathered at Wilson Lodge in Wheeling's 0glebay Park on 3 November 1939 to refine the new constitution of the young West Virginia Music Educators Association. They also were to discuss ways to spread music further throughout West Virginia.

The WVMEA president, Dr. J. Henry Francis, clarified a question concerning membership in the WVMEA by reminding the teachers that the constitution stated, "Active membership in the association will be granted to any individual engaged in or associated with the teaching or supervision of school music in the state upon the payment of current dues." Dr. Francis read a letter from MENC President Curtis which stated that the application for MENC affiliation from the WVMEA had been placed on record for the consideration of the MENC Executive Board.

The constitution committee had studied several amendments to the constitution which were presented and adopted at the luncheon meeting. The constitution committee was re-appointed and asked to continue to study proposed amendments.

Music teachers present at Wilson Lodge were hopeful that music education would grow in West Virginia, and they were beginning to see some signs that it was growing. Forty-one schools were represented in the l939 All-State High School Chorus, which was directed by George Strickly of Cleveland, Ohio. Efforts were being made to expand music into more schools in the state. While several towns had their own music teachers, many rural counties did not. In 1939 twenty-four counties had "visiting" music teachers.

History repeats itself, only now the digits in 1939 are rearranged to become 1993. This coming March, fifty-four years later, WVMEA members will gather in a greatly enlarged Wilson Lodge in Wheeling's Olgebay Park to discuss music education in West Virginia, attend workshops by nationally recognized clinicians, and hear outstanding performances by honor groups as well as the All-State High School groups. Begin making plans now so that you can be a part of this history.