Women Music Teachers as Military Band Directors during World War II

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1 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine how women music teachers became the United States’ first female military band directors. Interviews with seventy-nine World War II military bandswomen revealed that seven of the ten chosen female directors were music teachers prior to their enlistment in the Army, Coast Guard, or Marines—band and orchestra teachers, music supervisors, and a college professor. Six of those seven directors are included in this study. Research questions pertained to their childhood music education, formal schooling, music-teacher employment, why they quit teaching to enlist, military education, military leadership and performance experiences, how they continued music making after the war, and the meaning of this experience for their lives. Corroboration of interview responses with primary and secondary sources—census data, school records, city directories, social security index, newspaper articles, photographs, diaries, military documents, military and WWII books—revealed that these music educators had accurate memories, outstanding music education and performance backgrounds, substantial leadership experiences, and diverse musical backgrounds that made them good choices for leading military bands and ensembles. All were part of significant firsts for women in the military. Near the end of their lives, they believed that their service as a military band director and musician had substantial impact on their lives and in some cases valued as “the most important” experience of their lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-105
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Historical Research in Music Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • band
  • military
  • music teachers
  • women band directors
  • WWII

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History
  • Music


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