A History of the Coolidge High School Band: Building a Rural Program through Community Engagement and Stakeholder Support, 1935–1980
This study examined the forty-five year history of a rural band program in Coolidge, Arizona from 1935–1980. Research questions included investigation into the band’s place in the diverse populations with whom they interacted, the stakeholders, and support from the community. Circumstances of the creation of the town, the high school and band, the stakeholders involved in those processes, the ensembles (including learning and teaching), and outside influences such as national level music policies, ecological, and socio-political events were a necessary part of the study. High school yearbooks, student-written newspapers, and local newspapers were consulted for the bulk of the primary-source data. Other sources were also used to corroborate biographical information about band directors, administrators, and influencers outside of Coolidge High School. The most significant finding was that over the forty-five years investigated, the unwavering community support sustained a strong music program in the rural town, even though teacher turnover was high. Publicly demonstrating learning and teaching, the Coolidge High School Band program engaged the local community with numerous performances, drew positive attention from state-level community, and was recognized outside of Arizona at least once regionally. The local community demonstrated tremendous support for the band program over the years, including constant communication in the newspapers, attendance at performances, providing of scholarships, and approval of various bond elections to improve facilities that would be used by the band. More research is recommended on rural music programs and community engagement.