John Klee

Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Music Education BMEd


Educational Studies and Research

First Advisor

Thomas V. O’Brien, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Educational Studies and Research


High School marching band is an intricate facet of music education that operates in several varieties across the United States. Depending on the style as well as many external and internal factors of a marching band, marching bands can have goals and definitions of musical achievement that can vary drastically. This qualitative study aims to assist those in the world of marching music education to better understand these distinct types of marching bands on a deeper level. The study gathered detailed perspectives of two directors in juxtaposed marching programs to a view of what drives these bands and directors to achieve their specific goals in each season and better understand why they do what they do in music education. This particular study took place in the region of the U.S. known as the Deep South and was conducted in a small to mid-sized southern city with two distinct high schools and marching band programs. One program is composed of predominately White students at a predominately White school and led by a White director. The while the other program is composed of predominately African American students at a predominately Black school and is led by an African Americans director. While both high schools have free and reduced lunch populations of 99.8 percent, the predominantly White high school’s average household income is $60,830 while the predominantly Black high school’s average household income is $39,531 (NCES, 2021). With this lens of focus, the researcher analyzed what each director believed about musical achievement and band success, chosen style of performance, choices for competitions, and several internal and external factors including finances, family and community support, and booster clubs. The findings reveal that each director made stylistic decisions and prioritized distinct types of competition. However, regardless of style, each director set their definitions of musical achievement on what the students wish to achieve. The interviews reveal that each director shares a “student-first” mentality when setting their goals which could ultimately lead to the most satisfactory learning and personal experience for all parties involved in the program.