The Relationship Between The Use Of Democractic Practices And Scores Of A Competitive Marching Band

Open Access
Hounsell, Casey Lee
Area of Honors:
Music Education
Bachelor of Music Education
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Darrin Howard Thornton, Thesis Supervisor
  • Linda Carol Porter Thornton, Honors Advisor
  • Democratic
  • Marching
  • Band
  • Student-Centered
  • Competitive
  • Scores
The need for understanding democratic practices in education and their role in our classrooms has been discussed for many years within music education. Frances Elliott Clark, nicknamed the “Mother of MENC” and the first president of MENC in 1907, recognized that teaching and learning through democracy is a commitment that requires an acceptance of the changing world and a focus on learning from one another (Allsup, 2007). As educators, it is our role to serve as ambassadors for providing students more “musical leadership with respect to increasing the breadth, depth, and vitality of students musical experiences so that they can contribute to the democratization of musical culture” (Woodford, 2005, p. 29). Through democratic practices in our music classrooms, teachers can begin to provide students with an educational environment that allows for independent thinking, appreciation for the common good, and the ability to become promoters of change (DeLorenzo, 2003). This study looked at democratic practices on the marching band field. The purpose of this study was to find the relationship between the use of democratic practices and festival scores of competitive marching bands. For this study, a questionnaire was devised to determine teachers’ perceptions of how frequently they use democratic practices within their competitive marching band. The survey solicited complete responses from 42 band directors within the Cavalcade of Bands and Tournament of Bands marching band circuits. The survey was divided into three sections: general information, leadership team responsibilities, and student responsibilities. Leadership and student responsibilities were analyzed according to the frequency certain activities occurred within the competitive marching band using a Likert Scale (Never - All the Time). Analysis revealed that there are many examples of democratic practices found within competitive marching bands that are used to meet the individual needs of the students and the band as a whole. However, the frequencies of these practices differ between the Leadership Team, Student Involvement, and Overall Democratic Scores of high and low scoring competitive bands. This observable difference shows the need for a better understanding of how democratic practices influence competitive marching band success. Further research needs to be conducted to look at the quality of these democratic experiences within a marching band and how student happiness may affect the differences in competitive marching band scores.