Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

Cormac Cannon


The visibility and popularity of marching bands at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) represents a multi-generational tradition of marching and musical excellence. With performances that reach national and international audiences through large viewership, HBCU marching band culture is elevated to artistic prominence with each major league sporting event performance, Presidential inaugural parade, and viral retweet of a performance by a recording artist. After decades of significant contribution to instrumental music education, however, HBCUs have been unilaterally unable to develop graduate programs in wind conducting. Using a qualitative study design, the goal of the current study was to identify challenges that inhibit the growth of HBCU music departments to include graduate degrees in wind conducting. This study inquired about the institutional and departmental outlook on expansion of graduate degree offerings in wind conducting at HBCUs as well as challenges that impede such development. Data was collected from Directors of Bands at HBCUs that are public, serve at least 5,000 students, and offer bachelor’s degrees in music education. Semistructured interviews were conducted with participants to collect in-depth responses regarding their experiences and outlook on the future of their respective institution's capacity to award graduate degrees in wind conducting. The sample comprised 5 respondents out of an original 15 who were selected. The study showed that common issues preventing growth in HBCU music departments include inadequate funding, qualified faculty, and outmoded facilities. Implications for future research are discussed.


© 2022, Jamaal William Nicholas

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