History (The First Fifty Years Book)

The contents of these IGSMA History pages are taken from W. C. Edwards commemorative book, "The First Fifty Years Through the Eyes of Bill Edwards - A History of the Illinois Grade School Music Association". A copy of this book may be obtained by contacting the Executive Secretary-Treasurer.


Bill writes in his dedication:

This book is dedicated to all the officers and Executive Board members whose strong, imaginative, and innovative leadership has made the Illinois Grade School Music Association an outstanding organization throughout the past fifty years; and last but not least, to all the fine directors of the bands, orchestras, and choruses who have devoted their energy and time in furthering the musical education of young adults with excellence and enthusiasm as members of the Illinois Grade School Music Association for the past fifty years. Congratulations to all of these people.

Click here for the PDF of the entire book.

The Beginning
Prior to the fall of 1939, grade school bands were allowed to participate and compete with other grade school bands in the Illinois School Band Association, which was primarily used to furnish statewide competition for high school bands. Also in this period of time, the grade school bands were growing in number at a fairly fast rate and consequently the Illinois School Band Association became aware that its contest events had become too large and inconvenient.

For several years prior to 1939, the grade school band directors were giving some talk and consideration to forming their own organization. In these early years, many band directors filled the dual positions of director of the high school and director of the grade school bands in their small towns. With the growth of the band movement in the State of Illinois, it became a very difficult task to host a state contest with high school bands, solos, and ensembles, as well as grade school bands, solos, and ensembles!

The accompanying letter lists the officers of the Illinois School Band Association in 1939. They were Harold N. Finch of Highland Park, President; F. C. Kreider of Collinsville, 1st Vice-President; P. M. Keast of Elmhurst and Park Ridge, 2nd Vice-President; and H. S. Frederick of Paxton, Secretary-Treasurer. The honorary president was A. A. Harding, and the past presidents were A. R. McAllister, Don Allen, Paul Morrison, M. W. Rosenbarger, G. W. Patrick, and V. K. Reese. The active membership of the Illinois School Band Association in 1938, including all of the high school and grade school participants were 265 bands with 11,000 students participating. (See Exhibit #1)

Because of the overcrowded facilities, the Illinois School Band Association asked the grade school band directors to form their own association. The grade school directors were more than happy to organize their own group. As an incentive, the Illinois School Band Association gave the new grade school association the sum of $500 to get them on their feet and off and running. This was quite a bit of money in those days.

The suggestion of forming a grade school association occurred at the 1939 Fall State meeting of the Illinois school Band Association. This meeting was an annual affair held at the old band building on the campus of the University of Illinois, Champaign, and was arranged by A. A. Harding and his staff.

The leading organizer and spokesman for the grade school band directors was P. M. Keast, Director of Bands in Elmhurst and Park Ridge. Immediately after the decision to break away from the Illinois School Band Association, P.M. Keast hastily called a meeting later that same day in Champaign for all the grade school band directors. Because of the shortage of time, no officers were elected but P. M. Keast was appointed chairman, and under his direction, guidance, and leadership, the Illinois Grade School Band Association was formed. He chose H. W. Granzow, Maywood, to assist him. P. M. Keast was an excellent leader with strong ideas, and he kept the welfare of the association uppermost in his mind at all times.

It was decided to divide the entire state into 5 districts. Cloyd Myers, in his first year at Sterling, was appointed Chairman of the Northwest District. There was no constitution drawn up, due to the lack of time, but the guidelines of the Illinois School Band Association were used.

The first state contest, which included the first division winners of the district contests who qualified in solos, ensembles, and bands, would be held in Bloomington, Illinois, in the month of May, 1940. The locations in Bloomington would be at Illinois Wesleyan University and Bloomington High School. All classes of solos and ensembles and Class E, D, and C bands would perform on Friday, May 10, at Presser Hall on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University, and all B, A, and AA bands would perform on Saturday, May 11 at Bloomington High School.

There would be a required selection for each band class, and then the organization would perform a march and another selection of their choice. Each band would also participate in the sight reading contest, and this would count as a part of their final rating. All solos would have to be memorized.

Frank B. Jordan and Robert Ross of Illinois Wesleyan University along with Paul Gossard, Superintendent of Schools in Bloomington would also assist in the management of the first state contest. George Reeder, Secretary, Association of Commerce in Bloomington, would also assist with the lodging, meals, etc. P. M. Keast organized the program. All facilities and services at the schools were donated.

The Illinois Grade School Band Association was off and running to a very successful and bright future in the field of instrumental music for many years to come.

At the present time (1988), the only remaining living members present at the first meeting of the new association are: Ernest Caneva, W. C. Edwards, Lyle Hopkins, Forrest McAllister, Cloyd Myers, Theodore Paschedag, and Emmett Sarig.

1939-1949
Thorough and diligent research has gone into the writing of this book and especially into the first decade. Few records were kept during this period and much of the information received was contradictory, but the information regarding the first decade especially, is as correct and informative as possible!

The first decade was an exciting period for the Illinois Grade School Band Association. In the spring, our first state contest was held. Hats off to the brave directors, etc. who organized and ran this first contest. What a task they did with so much success!

Most all of the bands in the early years were called Grade School Bands. Instead of the present 6-2-4, 5-3-4, or 6-3-3 plans we have today, we had only an 8-4 plan, 8 years of grade school and 4 years of high school. When more than one band in a school system was developed, the bands were then designated as the Junior or Senior Band or the First and Second Band. It was not until the last 15 to 20 years that the groups were called the Symphonic or Concert Band.

There was a sight-reading contest as a part of the Illinois Grade School Band Association in the formative years of the organization. Since separating from the Illinois School Band Association, the Grade School Association adopted their rules concerning sight-reading contests and incorporated them in the operation of the contest in conjunction with the State Band Contest for concert groups. This was a super teaching aid and a tool to discourage directors from practicing the three contest selections the entire school year. Sight-reading contests were a wonderful educational experience for the directors as well as the band students.

Why isn’t sight-reading a part of the contest now? Because of the rapid growth of the number of bands competing in the early years of the Illinois Grade School Band Association, this phase of the competition had to be eliminated as a part of the contest because of the lack of space for the groups to perform.

At the start when only a few bands were competing, there were enough areas for the concert performance and the sight-reading performance, but as the number of participating bands increased and the groups grew in size, which was a credit to the Illinois Grade School Band Association, the lack of space eliminated one of the better factors of the band contest. But, it is better to operate a very efficient contest with adequate space and time than have all the problems with an extra sight-reading contest. The elimination of this phase of the contest took place in the mid 40’s.

In the infancy years of the band movement, because of the lack of funds, very few bands had a full uniform such as you see today. A uniform in these days meant for the members of the group to be uniformly dressed, such as, white shirts or blouses and white or dark pants or skirts. Other than this, the two most common uniforms were the addition of capes or sweaters in the school colors.

The selections of music available in the early years of the band movement were very limited. The literature now accessible to the directors has certainly improved in quality and quantity over the past 50 years due mainly to the stimulation and incentive of the contest sponsored by the Illinois Grade School Band Association.

At the start of our association and especially when grade school bands were a part of the Illinois School Band Association, the literature used at the contests was from two books of collections; the Bennett Book #1 and the Lester Brockton Band Book.

From the Harold Bennett Band Book #1, “Activity March,” “Project March,” and “Military Escort” were the more commonly used opening marches at the contest. “Ambition Overture” and “Zenith Overture” were also performed quite frequently from this collection. From the Brockton Band Book, “Eastern Star March” and “Corinthian Overture” were used. Forrest Buchtel, Ted Mesang, Joseph Skornicka, Eric DeLamater, Guy Holmes, Karl King, Joe Olivadoti, Paul Yoder, and Fred Weber started to compose for the younger bands at the outset of this decade. What a blessing that more composers could see the growth and future of the grade school bands.

During a summer concert in the park in 1946, the Glen Ellyn Grade School Band was performing a program mainly from the Bennett Band Book #1 by Harold Bennett, and rather than announce each selection by the same composer, I announced “Activity March” by Henry Fillmore. One of my cornetists promptly corrected me by stating the march was by Harold Bennett. At this stage, I had to explain to the audience that Harold Bennett was a pen name for Henry Fillmore when he composed some of his marches as was Harry Hartley Solos for Trombone, a pen name for Henry Fillmore.

For several years in the initial stages of the Illinois Grade School Band Association, a required selection was performed by each band. Each class had its own required selection, and the composition had to be performed second in the contest following the opening march. The march and third selection was of your own choice! This made for a real contest, as the bands could somewhat be compared. Of course the E and D schools, being the smaller schools, had an easier required composition, and the selection would get more difficult as the classes progressed from C to B to A. Even at the inception of the association, the class of the school band competing in the contest was determined by the enrollment of the school just as it is today.

The members of the Illinois Grade School Band Association at their annual fall meeting on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University determined the required selection for each class. They listened to the university band perform four or five selections from each class, and of course, the compositions got progressively more difficult as you went from Class E up through Class A. The one large drawback on the selection of the required number, as voted on by the directors of a particular class band, was that the Illinois Wesleyan University Band made all these compositions sound very fine and easy to perform.

One year “Metropolis overture” by Guy Holmes was chosen by the class E and D band directors. The university band made it sound very easy, but hidden in the parts was a rhythmic pattern of an eighth note triplet repeated, often being played against a countrapuntal pattern of two eighth notes. This was easy for college students but most difficult for grade school students of Class E and D bands. It is important to remember that very few private teachers were available to assist the band directors. Because of the method of choosing the required selection with adult musicians performing the music, the required selection was finally deleted from the band contest in the early years of the association.

During this period of time of the association, instrumental music for the most part, was not part of the curriculum of the public school educational system. The band rehearsals and large sectionals had to be held before and after school; although, the school administrators and boards of education allowed the band directors to have small group lessons during the school day, which usually ran one-half hour.

Quite often a director, because of the smallness of the instrumental programs, was the director of the bands in at least two towns or villages. Many worked on a fee basis, as we were still in the post depression years.

The questions the readers of this book are asking about now, are how did the band director get the band members to report after school for rehearsals, etc.? You have to remember in this era of history, there was no TV, no little leagues, no girls’ athletics, etc. We had very little competition for the children’s free time other than the Boy and Girl Scouts, and they met during an evening. Quite a few directors would even have Saturday morning rehearsals as most fathers worked six days a week, very few mothers worked and very few families took vacations during the school year. The band was practically the main activity in the town and really got the support of the townspeople, let alone the parents of the members of the band. With the lack of activities for grade school children, the interest was focused on the band program which was a twelve month activity, thus enabling a fast growth for the Illinois Grade School Band Association. The contest became a big event in the community and was respected by the parents and other townspeople. They were really proud of their band, whether or not it received a first place rating in the contest!

A major problem for the directors was the supply and servicing of music and the band instruments. Very few of the towns had music stores or instrument repair shops. In the Chicago area, the only sources were Lyon and Healy and the Lyons Band Instrument Company. We were lucky if they came around once or twice a month. So a director, in order to keep the band going, had to make all the minor repairs that he or she could.

At the 2nd Annual Meeting of the Illinois Grade School Band Association, held in Presser Hall on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University in late October of 1940, the directors met and discussed the successful operation of their first contest in the spring of 1940. The founding fathers at this time had the foresight, wisdom, and interest of the new organization to elect officers and adopt a constitution. Of course over the past 50 years, the wording has changed, and many amendments have been added, but the basic structure still remains.

Article I of the constitution stated the name of the organization; Article II stated the purpose, and basically the wording has changed very little. Only Article III listed the officers and their duties. The President and Vice-President would be elected and the Secretary-Treasurer would be appointed by the President, which was done for many years. The reason for appointing this particular officer was that the founders thought at this time it would be advantageous for the President to appoint a Secretary-Treasurer who would be geographically located near him so they could work more closely together and solve the various problems that might arise. An Executive Board would consist of the three officers, plus the chairmen of the five districts, which were divided geographically throughout the entire State of Illinois. (Cloyd Myers has been a member of the Executive Board the entire 50 years.) The basic duties set forth in the original constitution are about the same as they are today. The President would preside over all meetings, administer the state contest, and hire the judges. The Vice-President, in the absence of the President, would assume the President’s duties and would have full charge of the distribution of all medals and certificates. The Secretary-Treasurer would mail out all entry cards, adjudicator comment sheets, and collect all fees.

The final business of the 2nd annual meeting was the election of officers. Elected were President, P. M. Keast, Elmhurst and Park Ridge; Vice-President, Theodore W. Paschedag, West Frankfort; and the appointment of Secretary-Treasurer, Harry Granzow, Maywood. These three officers were reelected at the fall meetings in Bloomington in 1941 and 1942.

At the fall meeting in 1943, George E. Ashley, Marion, was elected the new President. He served for two years. During the World War II years, the contests continued. Band parents hoarded their gas stamps so the trips could be made.

In the fall of 1945, new officers were elected and also reelected in 1946. The officers were President, Theodore W. Paschedag, West Frankfort; Vice-President, C. J. Shoemaker, Downers Grove; and the appointed Secretary-Treasurer, C. B. Nesler, Herrin. Robert E. Jorgensen, Lewistown, became the new District 2 Chairman, succeeding James Keith, Pekin.

Another historical event in the fall of 1946 was the First Annual Mid-West Band and Orchestra Clinic held in early December in Chicago with H. E. Nutt, Chairman. The sponsors were the VanderCook College of Chicago and the Lyons Band Instrument Co. of Chicago.

At the fall meeting of 1947, new officers were elected. They were President, C.B. Nesler, Herrin; Vice-President, Charles L. Loomis, Centralia; and the appointed Secretary- Treasurer, LaVern Sanders, Benton. They were reelected in the fall of 1948.

During the early years of the first decade, the selections performed by the bands got longer, and many groups went past their time limit of twenty minutes. Therefore, the schedule for the day would run overtime. A solution was proposed and passed by the Executive Board. The center judge would have a whistle and when the allotted time for the band’s performance would expire, he would blow the whistle and the director was expected to stop the band, even if they were in the middle of their third selection, with no penalty added to the rating. This would certainly keep the schedule on time. Many directors started to make a mockery of the situation. Opposition was mounting to this amendment, and the final blow came near the end of this decade. In the last state contest before the ruling out of the whistle, the center judge blew the whistle in the middle of a band’s third selection to inform the director that his time was up. Instead of the director stopping the band, he started to accelerate the tempo all the way to the end. Meanwhile, the center judge was coming out of the balcony, down the aisle of the main floor, on to the stage, and finally arrived at the director’s side. Just as he was tapping him on the shoulder, the baton stroked the final count of the composition. That was the end of the whistle!

So as you can see, the Executive Board, even though their hearts and souls were in the right place, still made errors. Many of the initial amendments and changes to the constitution were made by trial and error. The basic thought behind each idea was what was good for the young musicians and what would further promote instrumental music best from an educational standpoint in the State of Illinois.

The Marching Band
After World War II, the marching band movement came into prominence. It was not anything like it is today, but the small town school band had some form of a marching band. This was good “public relations” for the school district. The extent of the participation was usually the Memorial Day and 4th of July parades, the high school Homecoming parade, and the Halloween parade, if the community had one. A color guard was used, flag corps were not heard of as twirlers and a drum major was “the thing!”

The directors always dreaded a damp day, let alone a rainy one for the parade, especially for their drum sections. The field drums were 12” x 14”, made of wooden shells and the heads, batter and snare, were made of calfskin. (Plastic heads had not been invented yet.) If the calfskin got damp or wet, they would tighten up and split. It was common for 3 or 4 marching drums to lose their batter heads during a parade. What a headache for the director! The one and only solution for this major problem was for each drummer to carry a drum key, and as they marched along and could hear and feel the head tightening, they would have to loosen all of the lug nuts, little by little. Meanwhile, keep the beat, and keep in line. Hooray when the plastic heads came along!

There were a few out of town festivals in which a grade school marching band could participate. Any trip over 50 miles in those days was really an excursion. There were no theme parks to go to as we have today, except Riverview Park in Chicago, where bands would march and enjoy the rides. (This park was torn down quite a few years ago.) The festivals for marching bands were the “Pancake Festival” in Villa Grove, Illinois; the “Sauerkraut Festival” in Forreston, Illinois; the “Blossomtime Festival” in Benton Harbor, Michigan; and the “Tulip Festival” in Holland, Michigan. When you would tell your band members you were going to participate in one of these festivals, their faces would light up and would they practice hard for the trip! What an added incentive!

The Illinois Grade School Band Association has never sponsored marching band contests, although in the mid 40’s, we had baton twirling as a solo event. In order to qualify for the contest, the twirler had to be listed on the band entry card and pay the regular entry fee.

1949-59
At the fall meeting held at Presser Hall in 1949, the officers elected were President, P. M. Keast, Elmhurst; Vice- President, Cloyd Myers, Sterling; and W. C. Edwards, Glen Ellyn-Lombard was appointed Secretary-Treasurer. The growth of the band movement in the state was phenomenal. Every little nook, crook, and crossroad was sprouting up with an instrumental program. The state contest was getting just far too large for one single state association to be run efficiently. The historical decision coming from this meeting was the splitting of the Illinois Grade School Band Association into the North State and South State divisions. The new name for our association was the North State Division of the Illinois Grade School Band Association. Once again P. M. Keast would lead the association through another period of transition. The North State Division was divided into five districts, and in later years, the area eventually grew to eight districts.

The contest year of 1950 was a very special year and a memorable one for the Glen Ellyn Grade School Band program. The department had grown to four bands with each band having 100 musicians. Since the first band was entering contests, the school administration and W.C. Edwards were concerned about the large second band being inactive with no incentive. The band was entered for one year in Class F, which was a non- competing class with no rating except for comments only by the judges. The association had put the Class F into the district contest level only for the purpose of encouraging new band programs to enter the contest, but they were allowed to enter for one year only. The first band for the past several years had been promised that if it would get a first superior rating from all three judges in the state contest, they would be pulled from competing in the organization contests, take them on tour each year, and let the second band compete in the contests in Class C or B. This plan would then solve the problems and have both bands active. In the 1950 contest, the Senior Band of Glen Ellyn received a first superior rating and a perfect score from all three judges. So the following year, the Senior Band was on tour, while the Junior Band competed in the contests every year until W. C. Edwards resigned from the directorship of the Glen Ellyn Instrumental Department in June of 1968.

At the fall meeting in 1950 one new officer was elected, President Floyd Wilson, Morris. Vice-President Cloyd Myers, Sterling was retained and a new Secretary-Treasurer was appointed by the President. He was William Johnston, Plainfield. With the dawning of a new regime in 1950-51, it was decided that the North State and South State titles given our association would be changed to the Northern Division of the Illinois Grade School Band Association. The South State was likewise renamed the Southern Division.

When P. M. Keast vacated the presidency in the fall of 1950, he became chairman of the North East District, which in a few years became known as District 5. Robert Jorgensen, Lewistown became District 2 chairman in 1952.

In the contest years of 1951, 1952, and 1953, in addition to holding the state contest at Illinois Wesleyan University and Bloomington High School, it was necessary to expand to include Capen Auditorium of Illinois State Normal University, now known as Illinois State University. The solo and ensemble contests were held in several of the buildings on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University. On one rainy contest day, a room started to flood (the percussion room). It took quite some time to get another suitable room, equipment moved, and signs displayed to direct contestants to the new location.

After three years at all three locations in the Bloomington area, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington High School, and Illinois State University, the state contest was moved to the Roosevelt Junior High School in Peoria to be held in the middle of the month of May, 1954, with all the solos, ensembles, and bands of the Northern Division of the Illinois Grade School Band Association performing in the state finals contest. Art Johnson, Chairman of the Music Department of Roosevelt Junior High School, had the full responsibility of managing and operating all the events. As he stated: “They set the contest up on Thursday after school and during the early hours of Friday morning, so all was in order by 8:00 a.m. that morning for the contest to start. Then all day Sunday was spent putting everything back in place so school could start on time Monday morning.” What a task! Art Johnson deserves a lot of gratitude and thanks from the members of the association, as there was no cost to our organization for the use of the buildings, etc. in Peoria; although the three sites in Bloomington did not charge us either. Most of the bands were housed in two hotels in Peoria, the Jefferson Hotel and the Pere Marquette.

For the 1954 solo contests, the solos were divided into three groups: Group 1, the more difficult; Group II, medium quality; and Group III, the easier selections. William Johnston, Secretary-Treasurer, was principally responsible for this new endeavor. A beginning soloist performed his or her first solo in Group III; if the performer got a rating of I in the state contest, the soloist had to move to Group II the next year. A group II soloist obtaining a first rating in the state solo contest would then have to move up to Group I the following year. A few years later the ruling was amended so a Group II soloist could compete in Group II for two years before moving to Group I no matter what his/her rating was in the state solo contest. The reason for this decision was that most directors felt that the jump from a Group II solo to a Group I solo within just one year was sometimes too great for the soloist. The solo contest entries were smaller than now, so this method was carefully monitored by the District Chairmen and supervised by the Secretary-Treasurer of the association to make sure a soloist receiving a first rating in the state contest for example in Group III did not perform in the same grouping the following year. If the entry card came through this way two years in a row, the director would be informed about the disqualification of the soloist, or the performer would have to choose a solo from a higher grouping.

In the early 50’s, Frank Laurie, North Chicago, became the first chairman of District 6 (which was to become District 8 at a later date.) Upon being elected Secretary-Treasurer of the association in 1957, Frank was succeeded as district chairman by Robert Soukup, Libertyville.

At the fall meeting of the association at Peoria in 1956, the same officers presided with the addition of W. C. Edwards, Glen Ellyn, as the new District 5 Chairman. Two important aspects of the contest were instituted. The First Superior rating used for organizations, solos, and ensembles since the middle 40’s was eliminated for the 1957 contests because many members felt that one band, one soloist, and one ensemble in each class was being singled out as the best, and this idea was not going over so well with most of the members. This was also the last year the contest would be held in Peoria for all groups. Why?

Once again the growth of the band programs in the Northern Division was so great, we outgrew the facilities in Peoria. The Executive Board on Saturday along with the membership at the annual meeting on Sunday voted to split the state contest site into several sites with certain classifications performing at one particular location. This still allowed for a nice state contest. All the Class A, B, and C groups would go to one site and the D and E groups to another site. Peoria was still used as a host for the larger organizations through 1958, with the other bands going by classification to the Canton site, Streator, Lewistown, etc.

In the summer of 1957, Floyd Wilson resigned his position in Morris to accept an orchestra position with the Joliet Public Schools. At that time, orchestras were not accepted in the association contests; therefore Floyd Wilson resigned as President.

The fall meeting of the association was held at the Hotel Kaskaskia at LaSalle in 1957. Because of the central location of this town in the Northern Division, the site moved from Peoria to LaSalle. The Hotel Kaskaskia was not elegant. Literally, the light bulbs were hung from the ceilings by wires. There were no fixtures.

At this time, new officers were elected to serve for one year, and the Secretary-Treasurer was elected for the first time and not appointed by the President. The new officers were President, Cloyd Myers, Sterling; Vice-President, Robert Jorgensen, Lewistown; and Secretary-Treasurer, Frank Laurie, North Chicago.

In the fall of 1958, Robert Jorgensen resigned as Vice- President because he had accepted a vocal position in Urbana, and since vocal groups were not a part of the Illinois Grade School Band Association, he withdrew as an officer on the Executive Board. W. C. Edwards, Glen Ellyn, was elected the new Vice-President with the present officers of President and Secretary-Treasurer being retained. These three officers held their positions until the fall of 1972. The number of’medals used in the 1959 contests were 25,741. 

Joliet Grade School Band ("The Superior Band")
In 1913 A. R. McAllister was a shop teacher in the Joliet Township High School. That year the Board of Education assigned him to the position of Band Director of the High School Band. We all know the history of the High School Band after A. R. McAllister assumed the reign. They won many national championships, and he was one of the founding fathers of the Illinois School Band Association and also one of its past presidents. This organization was the forerunner of our present association.

The Joliet Grade School Band was the superior and outstanding band in the first three decades of the Illinois Grade School Band Association. There were many fine and excellent grade school bands in the organization, but the Joliet Band was admired for excellence in performance by all the other directors. Therefore, a chapter should be devoted to the Joliet Grade School Band as they exemplified what all the other bands were striving for in their performances.

James Milton Thompson was founder and director of the band starting in 1912. Guido Mattei assumed the position in 1918. In 1926, Mattei was followed by Glen J. Ford and was succeeded in 1936 by Forrest L. McAllister, the son of the Joliet Township High School Band Director, A. R. McAllister. As you will notice from the first state contest program of the Illinois Grade School Band Association, Forrest L. McAllister was the band’s director.

On October 14, 1942, Charles S. Peters was appointed Director of the Joliet Grade School Bands and his tenure lasted until 1969. During Peters’ first three years as director, the Joliet Grade School Bands did not participate in band contests because of World War II.

After the war was over, Peters entered the Joliet Grade School Band in the district and state contests for the first time, receiving a “superior rating” in both. By the 1949-50 school year, the Joliet Grade School Bands had won a “superior rating” so often in the Illinois Grade School Band Association State Band Contest that the band was awarded an “honorary superior rating” and was asked to present a concert each year for all the contestants, directors, and music educators attending the state finals. This procedure went well into the second decade.

1959-69
The third decade of the Illinois Grade School Band Association saw much growth and was unparalleled in the history of the group. The name of the association was not only changed once but twice during this decade. Progress in the instrumental education of young musicians was greater during this period of time than at any other period.

In the spring of 1959, Cloyd Myers was still President, W. C. Edwards was in his first term as Vice-President, and Frank Laurie continued to serve in the capacity of Secretary- Treasurer. These three officers served the entire decade.

At the annual Executive Board meeting of the association in October of 1959 which was again held at the Hotel Kaskaskia, LaSalle, the following members comprised the Board: District #1, Donald Langellier, Quincy; District #2, John Thompson, Canton; District #3, Bill Douglas, Princeton; District #4, Walter Kuebler, Sterling; District #5, Ed Jones, Plainfield; and District #6, Robert Soukup, Libertyville.

At this meeting, W. C. Edwards was appointed chairman along with Cloyd Myers and Frank Laurie to realign the Northern Division into eight districts instead of the present six. The band movement was experiencing more growth, and the contest sites were becoming very overcrowded. There was too much enrollment for only six districts. Therefore, the Executive Board proposed that eight districts should be formed in the Northern Division. The three men appointed for a year’s project realized they really had their work cut out for them as they tried to readjust the boundaries equally in population, member schools, and in contest participation.

Another important decision voted at the Executive Board meeting and at the general meeting on Sunday by the entire membership was to allow “On the Spot Recording Co.” to record the organization contest at the district and state levels and sell the disc recordings to the members of the bands. This was approved with much enthusiasm as an educational tool by which the young musicians would be able to hear their band’s performance at the contest. What an advancement and breakthrough in the technology of recording. The records sold like “hotcakes.”

Thala Rush, Lake Villa, and Art Johnson, Peoria, were appointed to work on a revised solo list. The state sites for the contest year of 1960 were set up so that all bands of a certain classification would be performing at the same site. This method was to be used for, quite a few years.

As the fall meeting in October 1960, approached, the district realignment committee was hard at work. In September they decided to meet and put all of their ideas to work prior to the fall Executive Board meeting. This general get together was held in the recreation room of the Edwards’ home in Park Ridge on a Saturday afternoon late in September. Because we knew that there was going to be a lot of work ahead on that afternoon, Wilma Edwards prepared a ham dinner so everyone could literally work straight through with no interruptions. Frank Laurie, Cloyd Myers, and I brought all of the proposals for redistricting to the table. After much discussion and compromise, the existing six districts were divided into eight districts equally. Everyone worked into the late evening hours of Saturday. The proposal was presented and approved the next month by the Executive Board, and then presented at the general meeting of the association on Sunday and was approved. Districts 1, 2, and 4 would remain intact with the present Districts #3, 5, and 6 being divided to make a total of eight districts, which to this day remain the same. Temporary chairmen were named to District 3, Leslie Requa, Rantoul; District 5, Bill Douglas, Princeton; District 6, Ed Jones, Plainfield; District 7, W. C. Edwards, Glen Ellyn; and District 8, James Ring, Gurnee. Districts 1, 2, and 4 would keep their respective chairmen.

A meeting for District 7 was held soon at the O’Neil Junior High School in Downers Grove to elect a new permanent chairman for District 7. Gene Haney, Downers Grove, was elected to this position.

Further business conducted at the 1960 fall meeting was the presence of a new company, the West Shore Mfg. Co. of Kewaunee, Wisconsin, which wanted to bid for our medal business. Gordon Thoreson, President, made the presentation. Up to this time, the Robbins Co. of Chicago was the only supplier available for awards. Gordon made a very fine presentation, with samples of his medals and gave us a price per medal, which was far below Robbins’ price. West Shore Mfg. Co. had already acquired the medal business of the Wisconsin School Music Association. West Shore Mfg. Co. was then voted as the supplier of our awards and, even to the present time, supplies the medals. The company changed its name to Medalcraft Corp. and now is known as Medalcraft Mint. It was also decided to put a white stripe in the middle of the blue or red ribbon for the district contests so that it would differentiate from the solid colored ribbons used at the state level. A decision was made that a small plaque be given to the bands receiving a first rating at the state contest. Because the Vice-President’s office was in charge of awards, W. C. Edwards personally took on the job of designing the new plaque, which would be used at the State Band Contest in the spring of 1961.

The 1961 fall state board meeting was held on Saturday commencing in the early evening and adjourned at 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning with the general meeting starting at 10:00 a.m. The new Executive Board members were District 3, Don Filla, Dwight; District 4, Louis DiIulio, Moline; District 6, Charles Ursitti, New Lenox; and District 7, John Weaver, Sycamore. Several major items emerging from the fall meeting were that the judge’s salary would be raised from $30 to $35 for the 1962 contests; the association should form a recommended list of judges for the state contests; and that the majority of the judges’ ratings would determine the final rating. Bands receiving a I, II, and III from the judges would be given a final rating of II, and if the judges rated a band I, I, and III, the final rating would be a I. The Robbins Co. appeared before the board trying to regain the medal and plaque business, but because of the fine service and lower prices, the West Shore Mfg. Co. was once again awarded the business. President Myers was appointed to revise the instructions to the judge’s sheet, which was to be distributed to the district and state contest chairmen. The President would also appoint a committee to study the reclassification of schools and report back in 1962. The meeting adjourned at 1:15 p.m.

Trying to find a more centrally located area for the association’s 1962 fall meeting, the Hotel Joliet, in Joliet was selected. The Executive Board met on Saturday evening starting around 8:00 p.m. and ended on Sunday morning at 1:40 a.m. Louis Bartlett, Trewyn-Peoria, was the only new member representing District 2 as its new chairman. At the general meeting, many resolutions coming from the Executive Board were passed and adopted. John Weaver, District 7 Chairman, was given permission to appoint a committee of three to clarify the snare drum contest sheets regarding the Rudimental and Straight systems of drumming. Also passed was a rule that if a school district maintained more than one band, each band’s classification shall be determined by the enrollment of the parent school plus the schools that directly feed the parent school. It was also approved that the center judge in the organization contests would be the moderator to signal when the band should proceed to its next selection. The major decision coming from the 1962 fall meeting was a motion made by Michael Kmetz of Moline that the association accept string solos, ensembles, and orchestras in the contest in the spring of 1963. The motion was seconded by Lendell King of Pekin and passed. The name of the association was changed to the Illinois Grade School Band and Orchestra Association. W. C. Edwards was appointed to design a new medal for solos, ensembles, and organizations to incorporate the theme of bands and orchestras. The meeting was adjourned at 5:10 p.m.

As the fall Executive Board meeting to be held at the Baker Hotel in St. Charles on October 26, 1963, was approaching, it was certainly strange after so many years to see the new stationery with its new heading of Illinois Grade School Band and Orchestra Association. Don Langellier, District I’s new chairman, was introduced to the board. As voted in the previous year, starting with this meeting, two advisors were added to the Executive Board. The advisors were to be school administrators who could give the perspective views of the school administration towards the instrumental programs. The new advisors to the association were Vance Hamann, Superintendent of the Western Community Unit School in Buda, and Robert Thayer, Administrator of the Ashton School District. This was a very positive and profitable approach to our discussions about the association as the administrators’ point of view was received and welcomed. Since the meeting started on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and all the introductions were made, the first decision was to hold the state meeting next year in LaSalle at the Holiday Inn, which would now be our state meeting site for many years. During the membership meeting, the judges were voted an allowance of 10 cents per mile, round trip, for their services. The Constitution was revised and accepted. The association accepted the use of the Rudimental and Straight systems of drumming, to be marked on students’ comment sheets accordingly, as proposed by the committee of Chairman, John Weaver, Sycamore; Lafayette Wall, Elmwood Park; and Tom Goodwin, New Lenox. It was decided that all wind choirs should be limited to 12 members. Piano solos were voted into participation in the association’s contests, another milestone in our history. It was suggested that new comment sheets be printed for strings and piano solos. Merle Wegener, Moline, was appointed to do the string comment sheets and John Weaver, Sycamore, would take care of the piano sheets.

The year 1964 was a rather quiet year for the association. The new location at the Holiday Inn in LaSalle was a pleasant change of surroundings and atmosphere. This was a change from the older hotels to a delightful new inn, which was a very pleasant and positive move. The Executive Board meeting was still held on Saturday evening, ending in the wee hours of Sunday morning and the Sunday meeting started after lunch. The starting and ending times of the Executive Board’s meeting are mentioned because it is interesting to see how everyone worked late into the early morning hours with heavy deliberations on various amendments to the constitution and discussions on many new ideas. The new board members were introduced. One new advisor, Walter Kuebler, Administrator, Calumet City, and the two new district chairmen: District 2, Don Seymour, Peoria; and District 3, Verrollton Shaul, Champaign, were introduced.

Two very important decisions were made regarding the organization’s activities. A code system for identification would be used on the schedules and comment sheets of all solo and ensemble participants rather than the name of the school so the judges would not know which schools the contestants were from; and it was also decided a member of the Executive Board should be assigned by the President to co-chair each state site and give the instructions to the judges.

In 1965, a special Executive Board meeting was held in May in Dixon for the purpose of discussing the operation of the recent state contests and to get an early start on revising the constitution. The fall board and general meeting were held at their usual times in LaSalle. The new board members were introduced: Advisor, Graydon Peterson, sycamore; District 2, had Louis Bartlett, Peoria, returning once again as chairman; and District 8, James E. Ring, Gurnee. There was no chairman for District 4 so District 3 would absorb all entries from District 4 for one year. Frank Laurie had written a “State Contest Guide Book” that was excellent in presenting all the mechanics and operation of the contest. All members received this very informative book. Most all of the board and general meetings were taken up with the business of revising and updating the constitution. Ninety per cent of the resolutions and amendments to the constitution were adopted. The general meeting was adjourned at 5:00 p.m.

The fall Executive Board meeting was held on a Saturday in October 1966, from 7:45 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. and again on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. The general meeting was held on Monday at the Holiday Inn in LaSalle. Barbara Buehlman was introduced as the new District 8 chairman, and the new advisor was John Albright of the Salt Creek School Administration in Villa Park. It was decided to let District 6 introduce scales on a voluntary basis at the solo contest for one year with the results of the addition of scales to the solo contest having no bearing on the performers’ final rating. The results of this pilot program would be reported back to the Executive Board next fall. For the state organization contest, Peotone was selected as the state site for the pilot program of having one judge, the center one, do his or her comments orally on tape. Results once again were to be reported back to the members by next fall. It was decided to continue with a board member co- chairing each state site, as the results were excellent and made all the state sites run more uniformly. Once again a decision was reached that would allow any of the judges of the organization contest to mark down in rating any groups for their entrance and exit to the performing area.

The fall meeting in 1967 was held at the same place on Saturday and Sunday. Another new advisor was introduced, James Perelli, Farmington. Also, the new Chairman of District 3, was Robert E. Jorgensen, Urbana. The group raised the judge’s salary to $40 and also would pay their overnight lodging provided they travelled more than 75 miles one way to the contest. Frank Laurie suggested that the organization should have an official “logo.” He developed the musical note as the official “logo”, and it has appeared on all of the envelopes and stationery ever since. It was voted that all final ratings must be made in ink. The pilot experiment with the tape judging at the state site in Peotone was so successful, that it was voted to have one tape judge at all the organization state sites in 1968. The Vice-President would take over the duties of obtaining the tapes and distributing them to all the state sites. The association initially would pay the cost of the tapes. It was decided that the state contest would be held on the last Saturday of April instead of the first Saturday of May. Any negative comments made to the director by a judge would be given in a separate enclosure and would not be written on the adjudication sheet. The posting of all the organization ratings at the state contests shall be uniform in that only the final Roman Numeral rating shall be posted and not the individual ratings by the three judges. District #6 reported the results of using scales in their solo contest in addition to the solo performance, but this idea was not adopted for use by the association. A monumental decision reached at the fall meeting was that “the association would conduct only one solo and ensemble contest in the spring of 1968, and it would be conducted at the district level and organized by the districts.” We now would have two organization contests at the district and state level and only one solo and ensemble contest. This remains the same today. Interesting statistics are listed below for the contest held at the state level in the spring of 1967.

Northern Division
State Solo and Ensemble Entries 11,000
State Band and Orchestra Entries 105

Southern Division
State Solo and Ensemble Entries 8,900
State Band and Orchestra Entries 52

In the spring of 1968, the one solo and ensemble contest conducted by each district was well received. The fall meeting of the Executive Board in 1968 was held on October 3 at 1:15 p.m. and adjourned early Sunday morning at 12:15. The general meeting on Sunday started at 10:00 a.m. and ended at 3:00 p.m. The new advisor on the board was Milton Davis, and also Caryl Rae Clinge, Moline, was the vocal representative at the meeting. Two new chairmen were on the Executive Board: District 2, Lendall King, Pekin; and District 7, William Knapp, DeKalb (NIU Lab School). Another major step in progress was taken during this decade. Vocal organizations were voted into the association to participate in the organization contest in the spring of 1969. This precipitated giving the Illinois Grade School Band and Orchestra Association a new name: The Illinois Grade School Music Association. Twice during this decade the organization changed its name. This would be the permanent name for many years to come. Due to the problems of getting judges to be the tape judges, the Vice-President’s office made up demonstration tapes of four judges. This would enable the tape adjudicator to have some guidelines to follow while doing the taping procedures. This plan was done for several years. It was also decided to let an instrumental player compete in his first and second band of his school if he or she performed on two different instruments. The area around Rockford involving District 4 should be all revamped and finalization taken by the people involved.

This ends one of the most active decades of the Illinois Grade School Music Association.

1969-79
The annual general meeting in 1969 was held on Monday at the Holiday Inn in LaSalle with the Executive Board being assembled the day before. The same three officers who served the entire 3rd decade were still in office: President, Cloyd Myers, Sterling; Vice-President, W. C. Edwards, Park Ridge; and Secretary-Treasurer, Frank Laurie, North Chicago. The advisors were John E. Albright, Salt Creek of Villa Park; and James Perelli, Farmington. The new chairman of the restructured District 4 was Harold Luhman, Loves Park. It was voted to upgrade the plaques for the organizations at the state contest for Division I ratings, and Division II and III ratings would receive a large and more elaborate certificate. (Of course the plaque and certificate had to be redesigned and made quite a bit larger. This duty fell into the hands of the Vice- President.)

Vocal solos and ensembles would be allowed to enter in the contest in the spring of 1970. The solo list, prepared by the committee for vocalists, would be used as a suggested list for the 1970 contests and a required vocal solo list would be prepared for them for the 1971 contests.

The ruling that multipercussion soloists will not be required to perform rudiments, as do the snare drum soloists, was adopted by the membership. It was also passed that a soloist will be allowed to perform in Group 2 for two years. A committee was appointed to work on a new revised required solo list for all woodwind, brass, percussion, and string solos.

The 1970 Executive Board meeting was held in the fall on a Sunday at 1:15 p.m. with the general meeting on Monday at 10:00 a.m. The new advisors were introduced: Charles Ursitti, Laraway School, Joliet, and the vocal advisor was Joan King, Wheeling. The new District 4 Chairman was Jerry Hawthorne, Rockton. The newly designed plaque and certificate for the state contests were designed by the Vice-President and were presented and approved for the 1971 state contests. It was voted that the Annual Membership and Executive Board meetings be held prior to October 1 in 1971.

This was the first year that a Parliamentarian was appointed at the meetings by the President. District 1 Chairman, Don Langellier, Quincy, acted in this capacity for many years. The required vocal solo list was presented by Rowland Pitts, Chairman of this committee, and it was approved to take effect at next season’s contests. Because of the growth of the association, more state sites were required. It was decided to make assignments for organizations of all classes to all sites. This really broke up the true spirit of a contest, as like classification schools might be divided up among 5 or 6 state sites instead of performing at one site, again this was progress! It was passed that proxy votes at the annual state meeting would not be allowed. Two instrument repair workshops were held in October and November of 1970, and were well received.

The state Executive Board meeting was held in 1971 in September at 1:00 p.m. with the general meeting the next day at 10:00 a.m. The Holiday Inn at LaSalle was still our headquarters. Arthur F. Smejkal was introduced as the new advisor and District 7 had a new chairman, Rowland F. Pitts, Gower School, Hinsdale. Stage Bands were voted into the contests for 1972 at the District level only, and they were to be organized by the districts. Because of the rising cost of the awards, schools would now be asked to pay for their tapes as part of their entry fees at the State Organization Contest in 1972. To clarify the qualifications for piano soloists, “The piano soloist must be a member of a school-sponsored piano program, or a member of the instrumental or vocal department, or must play two piano accompaniments in order to qualify for the piano solo and ensemble contest.” District 8 was allowed to run a pilot program at their solo contest in 1972 with solos not memorized. W. C. Edwards was named to set up a new standard judge’s contract. In the 1971 Northern Division’s State Final Contest, 97 bands, 49 choruses, and 15 orchestras participated for a total of 161 participating organizations.

In the fall of 1972 the board and general meetings were held on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and Monday at 10:00 a.m. as usual. The reports at the meeting on the success of the District Stage Band Contest were very favorable and positive. Since the majority of the stage bands were from District 7 and only a few were from District 8, the site for the District Stage Band Contest on June 3, 1972 was located in District 7 at the Glen Crest Junior High School, Glen Ellyn, supervised by co-hosts Lyn Sanny and Rowland P. Pitts. Because of the success of this contest, stage bands would be allowed to compete in the District and State levels in the spring of 1973.

More progress for the association along with growth and foresight! Separate classifications for intermediate or second organizations in the district level contest only were set up and entered in Class A2, B2, C2, etc. depending upon the enrollment. The pilot program in District 8 of no memorization for solos was well received so the association voted, starting in 1973 solo contests, that memorization would not be required. Nobody could ever accuse the Illinois Grade School Music Association of being stagnant and afraid of progress. Districts 1 and 7 were given permission to give an extra star for memorization of a solo in their contests due to the efforts of Don Langellier, District 1 Chairman and Rowland Pitts, District 7 Chairman. This procedure in District 1 and 7 is still being used. Frank Laurie resigned as Secretary-Treasurer and was given a life membership in the Illinois Grade School Music Association with full voting privileges. Barbara Buehlman, Round Lake, was elected the new Secretary-Treasurer. This was the first change in the officers in quite a few years. Replacing Barbara Buehlman as Chairman of District 8 was William Clark of North Chicago.

The 1973 Executive Board meeting was scheduled for Sunday at 1:00 p.m. with the general meeting scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Monday. New members on the board were: Advisor, Wilbur Simpson, Lansing; Chairman District 2, Gene Button, North Pekin; Chairman District 3, William Handley, Danville; and Chairman District 4, Loran McKelvey, Rockton. A report was given on the first State Stage Band Contest held on May 12, 1973, at the Carl Sandburg Junior High School in Rolling Meadows under the chairmanship of George Yingst, Rolling Meadows. Eight stage bands participated, and there was one no show. It was then voted to have a committee, chaired by the President, establish the State Stage Band Contest rules to be implemented into the 1974 Stage Band State Contest. The old rule that a soloist and ensemble member will be eligible for competition only if the organization of which they are a member competes in a district or state contest at least every other contest year was deleted from the constitution. This original ruling was established in the first decade.

In 1974 the board meeting was still held on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and with all the directors on Monday at 10:00 a.m. in LaSalle. The two new district chairmen on the Executive Board were District 3, Robert E. Jorgensen, Urbana; and District 4, Dennis Windler, Woodstock.

The printing costs were rising, so it was decided to print the required solo list every three years. Additions to the printed solo book would be compiled in a mimeographed printed list and would be distributed to the members during the years that the book was not printed. It was always the duty of the President to keep the solo required list up to date. The method of drop shipping the medals to all district and state sites directly from the medal company was established, and this would cut down on the inventory in the basement of the Vice- President’s home. Judges’ salaries were raised to $50 and traveling costs to 15 cents a mile.

The year 1975 found the Executive Board meeting held on the same days, same time, and same place as in the past years. There was only one new member to the Executive Board: Advisor Frank Laurie of the Illinois Office of Education, Springfield. Each District Chairman shall submit the names of organization adjudicators to the Secretary-Treasurer for the purpose of establishing an approved Organizations Adjudicators List. It would be the duty of the Secretary-Treasurer to keep the list up-to-date. A Dynamics category was added to the solo contest adjudication sheet to replace Memory for the next contest season. General Interpretation and Musicianship shall be changed to read Interpretation and Style. The point system of 7-10 First, 11-15 Second, and 16-28 Third was once again restored. (We dropped memory and scored a First 6-9 etc. in 1973.) All districts shall have permission at their own expenses to recognize a perfect score and give a I plus rating. Very few do. In fact, only District 8 honors perfect scores with an added star.

The year 1976 saw a special spring Executive Board meeting held to set forth a proposed required band music list for classification purposes. The director would choose his organization’s classification from the list. The committee in charge of the proposal was Jerry Hawthorne, Rockton, George Yingst, Rolling Meadows, and Barbara Buehlman, Round Lake. The same was established for orchestras and choruses. The fall meeting was held in September with two new District Chairmen on the Board: District 4, Shirley Angell, Stillman Valley; and District 8, George Yingst, Rolling Meadows. The first proposal coming forth was the reclassification of organizations as set up in the spring. District 8 was given permission to use this system in their district contest for one year. A committee headed by John Weaver, Sycamore, was established to revise the piano comment sheet.

Adjudicators for the state organization Contest shall be hired and assigned by the President to the various state contest sites. Two adjudicator’s workshops were set up for later in the year. A director will not be allowed in a contest room while students from his or her school are performing except to direct a choir or accompany a solo or ensemble. In past years, a director was not allowed in the contest room at all while his or her students performed. The proposal to let solos be accompanied by a recording tape was defeated! Two sites for the State Stage Band Contest would have to be set up for next spring’s contest due to the growth in this area. Barbara Buehlman proposed that we start the Executive Board meeting on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. instead of 1:00 p.m., as we would probably finish by 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. instead of the early morning hours of Monday. Her reasoning was that after the board meeting, the Secretary-Treasurer had a lot of preparation for the general meeting on Monday with the proposals, resolutions, agenda, etc. to be typed up and run off for the membership. What a fine suggestion! The Secretary-Treasurer would at least get some sleep before the meeting. This suggestion was adopted, and the new time schedule still exists today. In 1977 the new time schedule was begun at the Holiday Inn in LaSalle. The Sunday Executive Board meeting started at 10:00 a.m. and lasted until 4:00 p.m. On Monday, the general meeting was from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Since the administrators were constantly changing, the President was given the authority to appoint one person to act in an advisory capacity without voting privileges. He appointed John O’Connor of the University of Illinois. Each member shall receive one copy of the new revised solo book. Additional copies of the book will be $1.00 each. The President, in consultation with the state contest site chairman, should hire and assign the judges to the state organization contests. Drum set solos were added to the contest for 1978.

The fall meetings in 1978 were on the new schedule, which worked out well. The only new board member was Nannette Stroebel, Forreston, Chairman of District 4. To cut costs, it was voted to eliminate duplicate mailings to administrators with the exception of the first mailing on the subject of membership. Swing Choirs shall be an official contest entry categorized as an organization starting in the spring of 1979. The organization was continuing to grow. The Wisconsin School Music Association’s rudiments for drum set solos were incorporated into our contest, and a newly prepared list of graded solos for drum sets was also accepted. Frank Laurie led a big discussion concerning the new state’s “Title I” and, because of this legal document, the chairman of each district was now called chairperson and would appear on all stationery. So ends another exciting decade!

1979-89
The fifth decade started with the following statistics on the contests held in the spring of 1979. Forty-eight thousand four hundred medals were used in all district and state contests, and at the state organization contest, 87 band and orchestra plaques were awarded plus 15 stage band plaques. This was a new record! A change of location for the fall Executive Board meeting and the general meeting occurred: Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock State Park, in Utica was selected. The meetings were still scheduled for Sunday and Monday at 10:00 a.m. The new chairperson for District 2 was introduced: Edward Winkler, Peoria Heights. Directors were consistently late with their membership fee, so we voted a late membership fee of an additional $25 starting with the school year of 1979-80. The judge’s fees would be set at $50 for five hours of actual judging at the state contest and $10 for each hour or a fraction beyond five hours, and the traveling expense was raised to 20 cents a mile. Districts set their own adjudication fees on an individual basis. District 8 was given permission to give an award for a I+ rating, a perfect score of 7 points, to both soloists and ensemble members. A motion was made by Dorothy Kunkel that no smoking would be allowed at the state meeting, and it was passed. The system used as a pilot program, starting in 1976 by District 8 (in which a required list of music for organizations would determine the classification of the group as chosen by the director) did not meet with too much success, so it was abandoned. Barbara Buehlman wrote a very fine book: “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Hosting a Contest”. This book was made available to all contest hosts, and has encouraged directors to accept hosting a contest. The 1980 contest saw another new record of medals established. Fifty-one thousand eight hundred medals were distributed. The fall meeting was once again held at the Starved Rock Lodge. District 4 had a new Chairperson on the Board, Tim Burrs, Franklin Grove. The President will set the date of the state organization contests, preferably the fourth Saturday of April, with the state stage band contest on the first Saturday of May.

It was passed by the members that each school must have an adult chaperone in their homeroom at all times at the contest site, unless the room is locked. Each school must provide their own reel-to-reel tape for the tape judge at all state contests. A motion that there be one state contest site for each classification, as was done years ago, was defeated. Also voted down was the suggestion of having only one organization contest.

A great deal of credit should be given to all the people who have served as Secretary-Treasurer of the association for all the work that was involved in getting out the minutes of all meetings to the membership and seeing to it that all entry cards arrived on time for the director to fill in, the collection of all fees, the paying of the judges, etc.

The general meeting returned again to Starved Rock Lodge in 1981. A cassette tape recorder would replace the reel-to-reel tape at all state organization sites in the spring of 1982. Several significant motions were defeated eliminating rudiments from the snare drum solo, and the style of clothing or student attire shall not be considered in the contest category “Stage Presentation and Appearance.” The meeting on Monday adjourned at 2:30 p.m., unusually early!

The year 1982 saw the meeting return to the Holiday Inn at LaSalle with the usual schedule. The Vice-President reported at the meeting that 57,000 medals were used in the spring of 1982, another new record! The constitution was revised and would be printed again in three years. The state adjudication fee was raised to $60. The two state stage band sites should still exist, but one should be secured in the northern section of the association and one in the southern section. A full or condensed score-must be presented to the judge for all ensemble performances, and not individual parts. All snare drum rudiments must be memorized.

The 1983 meeting held in LaSalle saw W. C. Edwards retiring as Vice-President of the Illinois Grade School Music Association after 25 years of service in the office. He was made advisor to the association. In his annual report, he stated that 57,000 medals were once again used in the spring contest, and felt the group had reached a peak in the amount of medals used. George Yingst, Rolling Meadows, was elected the new Vice-President. Rowland Pitts, retired from many years of teaching, would remain as District 7 Chairperson. The President was requested to obtain a legal opinion concerning the latest changes in the copyright law and the use of photocopied music in the contests.

The state adjudicator evaluation form was eliminated because of the lack of interest. The final business was that the name Chairperson was dropped from all stationery, etc., and the title of Chairman will be used.

The year 1984 gave the Executive Board three new chairmen. District 5: Hal Hokensen, Sterling, replacing Louis DiIulio, Moline, upon his retirement after many years of service to the association; District 7: Roman Palmer, Addison, replacing Rowland F. Pitts who passed away in December, 1983; and District 8: Sandra Thompson, Wheeling, who replaced George Yingst because of his promotion to Vice-President. A six-year state contest date schedule was developed. W. C. Edwards was presented with a plaque in appreciation for his many years of service to the Illinois Grade School Music Association. President Myers eulogized the passing of Rowland P. Pitts, and a plaque was sent to Mrs. Pitts in his memory. Percussion judges should judge snare drum solos by the Straight or Rudimental system as marked on the comment sheet. Ensembles must perform a minimum of 32 measures without repeats, and no electronic equipment may be used in orchestras, bands, or choruses unless required by the score. The state judges’ fee was raised to $60 for 6 hours, $80 for 7 hours, $90 for 8 hours, and $100 for 9 hours.

In 1985 the organization had a new Chairman in District 1: Richard Lask, Mendon. All of Chicago was voted to be included in the boundaries of District 6. A plaque was presented to Don Langellier for his 26 years of service to the Illinois Grade School Music Association. Districts 7 and a would be allowed a one year pilot program in the 1986 contest in order to use the required solo list as a recommended solo list, thus eliminating the group level on the comment sheet, but including the student’s year in school and the number of years playing experience. The state judge’s fees were raised once again to $75 for 6 hours, $90 for 7 hours, $100 for 8 hours, and $20 for each additional hour. A one-half day fee for judging would be $50.

In 1986 the meeting was held in LaSalle at the Holiday Inn, and there was a new chairman in District 4, Warren G. Reckemeyer, Mt. Morris. W. C. Edwards presented a eulogy for Haskell W. Harr, premier percussionist and father of percussion of our association, who passed away on September 24, 1986. Students would now be able to perform solos in the contest from the association’s recommended list or a selection of his or instructor’s choice. The soloist will now be identified by grade level and number of years played, and not by the group method of I, II, or III.

No new Board members were introduced in 1987 at the fall meeting in LaSalle. The wording of the constitution and other related forms applying to Stage Band was voted to be changed to Jazz Band. A comment sheet was created for the Bass Drum solo. Swing Choirs shall consist of a minimum of 12 members and a maximum of 36 members for the 1988 contest. Students performing a drum set solo will be required to play one Latin, one rock, and one jazz rudiment. The level of difficulty of the rudiments shall be selected by the student. Photocopied music may be provided to judges only in an “emergency” when music is out of print or backordered, otherwise the penalty for the violation would be the reduction of the rating by one step. This rule would apply to all solo, ensemble and organization contests. The newly suggested solo list would be printed and adopted for use in the 1988 solo contests. No more required Solo List! In anticipation of Cloyd Myers’ retirement as President, George Yingst will act as an assistant to the President for the 1987-88 school year.

A special Executive Board meeting was held at Morris in the Holiday Inn on November 15, 1987, at 1:45 p.m. George Yingst was acting President at the Board’s meeting. It was determined that the 50th anniversary of the Illinois Grade School Music Association would be held at our annual state fall meeting in September, 1988, at the Holiday Inn in Morris. W. C. Edwards would write a commemorative book of the history of the organization. Cloyd Myers would be named President Emeritus and be given a lifetime membership on the Executive Board of the Illinois Grade School Music Association. A plaque would also be presented to him for his 50 years of service to the association. John Paynter of Northwestern University would be the guest speaker at the luncheon. Roman Palmer would serve as the official photographer for the 50th meeting celebration. It was voted by the Board for recommendation to the general meeting in the fall of 1988 that the President and Vice-President would be limited to a maximum of 10 years of service with the office of Secretary-Treasurer being an annual appointment made by the Executive Board of the Association. The advisors would have voting privileges. Roman Palmer will serve as an understudy to the office of Vice-President, succeeding George Yingst at the conclusion of the current school year.

1989-1999
Check back soon. We are in the process of compiling the history.

1999-2009
Check back soon. We are in the process of compiling the history.

Epilogue (From Bill Edwards)
As I started the task of writing this book, the most frequent statement made to me was: “You certainly have undertaken a big job!” I have been in the association since its inception in 1939, and writing this book is my way of reciprocating to the organization for the many years of enjoyment, guidance, musical training, incentive, leadership, and enthusiasm they have given me in the field of instrumental music. Writing this book presented one with many trials and tribulations as I attempted to work out contradictory facts and sometimes vague information. But in the meantime, I became reacquainted with old friends. In addition, as I read through various programs, minutes, etc., I had many wonderful moments of reminiscence of incidents of the past, which my memory had forgotten.

My one hope is that the officers and executive boards in the next 50 years will be as dedicated, progressive, and have the leadership ability to carry on the fine prestigious reputation which the Illinois Grade School Music Association has established before them. Best wishes and success for the next one-half century. Good luck and thanks for giving me the opportunity of writing this book.