In 1915, A&M president J.W. Cantwell
began to encourage the expansion of the music department and engaged a
prominent professional musician who was very successful and highly regarded
in the southwest, thus known as Boh Makovsky. Under Boh’s direction, the
band grew solidly and steadily. Boh taught all of the instrumentation as
well as directing the band. The band played campus concerts, provided music
for athletic and ROTC events, as well as other college activities. In 1916,
the band started making annual concert tours to different parts of the state
each year for the purpose of advertising the college and encouraging band
programs in the state. They traveled by train and the tours would sometimes
last two weeks. The financing was taken care of by the places the band
visited. These tours continued until 1931 and were a strong factor in the
development of public school bands in Oklahoma.
A very important asset to the band
program started in 1919 with the formation of an honorary band fraternity,
with one of its main goals to be of assistance to the band in the
recruitment of members and providing any help needed with any part of the
program. This fraternity was named Kappa Kappa Psi, and because of its
great success, other chapters were formed at other colleges across the
nation. Kappa Kappa Psi members and alumni continue to be strong supporters
of bands with numerous chapters across the nation. In 1946, the ladies of
the band formed a sister fraternity called Tau Beta Sigma. TBS is now
numerous with chapters across the nation as well. National headquarters for
both fraternities are located in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
In 1928, the demand for lessons was
so great that an A&M graduate, Louis Malkus, was hired to assist Boh with
the band and teaching. In 1929, a separate ROTC band was formed with Mr.
Malkus as director and the original college band was re-named the Oklahoma
A&M symphonic band. Mr. Malkus left in 1930 and Oakley Pittman, another A&M
graduate, was hired to assist in the program. Shortly after Mr. Pittman’s
arrival, another band was formed to give more students an opportunity to
play and where music majors could participate on minor instruments. This
band was the college band and later the campus band. The symphonic band was
an all-male band until the early 1930s, when female string bass players were
added. By 1936, girls were in every section of the band.
In 1933, Boh started a state band
clinic designed to be of educational value in the development and
strengthening of public school band programs. Nationally-prominent band
directors and instrumental specialists were brought in each year. This
event was the most important contribution of any kind that helped to further
public school bands in the state. The clinics continued for 35 years and in
1962, choral and elementary music became a part of the clinic. In 1963,
strings and orchestra were added. The clinic grew larger each year and
space became a problem, so in 1967, the Oklahoma Music Educators Association
took over sponsorship of the event and moved it to Oklahoma City.
The clinic selected high school band
members from across the state to be rehearsed by the guest conductor and
presented a partial concert. Later, there were two high school bands and a
ninth grade band.
The A&M band played a very important
part in the clinic by performing all of the music from the selected lists of
contest music. Each band was required to play two selections from a list of
ten. There were four high school classes and one junior high class. Fifty
selections were played in the different sessions over a two-day period. Boh
purchased this music out of his own funds. This music became a part of his
personal library. In addition to this music, Boh also purchased all the
music used for playing that year. He again kept all music in his personal
library at home, which was located near the campus. Aside from the music in
his personal library, the only other music for the military and college band
that was used had fit into one four drawer file cabinet by the time of Boh’s
retirement in 1943.
Rehearsals of the clinic music
started at the beginning of the fall semester, along with selections for
short concert by the band. Marching was a very small part of the band
activity. During the weeks of football games, the Friday rehearsal was for
game preparation. The marching was strictly military with marching from one
end of the football field to the other, countermarch and return. Marching
music and school songs were played on the sideline. Pep bands played for
basketball and pep rallies.
The majority of the music selections
that were played by the symphonic band were transcriptions of orchestral
literature. Boh preferred a band of 100-110 members and rehearsals were
very meticulous. Attacks were repeated until satisfactory balance was
achieved before continuing. Intonation, tone quality, and style had to be
just right. Rehearsals were very strict and demanding. He worked to get a
rich symphonic sound and seldom used a very loud volume. There were times
when some selections were never played without a stop until the concert. He
achieved a good-sounding result, and the band was nationally recognized.
Boh also added several instruments
over the years that were not used by most bands at that time. They included
a sarrusophone, a hecklephone, contrabassoon, bass saxophone, contra-alto
clarinet, contrabass clarinet, flugelhorn, and string bass.
One instrument that is still used at
football games is the big bass drum that was purchased by the military
department for use by the ROTC band in 1935. The original carriage for the
drum was a large trailer with four ear wheels and was pulled by a squad of
cadets. There was a seat for a cymbal player in front of the drum. The
present carriage for this drum was made in 1946.
Mr. Pittman left the staff in 1936
and was replaced by Thomas Shirley, also an A&M graduate. In 1937, Max
Mitchell returned to the campus to direct the military band, teach brass
instruments, and be assistant director of the symphonic band. Harry Keller
served as a woodwind assistant in 1937. Lee Gibson served in the same
position, as well as that of director of the college band, from 1938-1940.
Clement Hutchinson joined the staff in 1940, left for military service, and
returned in 1946, when he became conductor of the military band.
Boh retired in 1943, after 28 years
of outstanding service and leadership to the college and the state of
Oklahoma. Max Mitchell was appointed music department head and director of
the symphonic band.
During World War II, the band was
almost all female until 1945, when the men began returning from military
service. They provided music for college events during that period and an
interest was developed in having an all-female band to continue after the
war. The idea was presented to the college administration. They approved
and provided funds for uniforms and equipment.
In 1946, Hiram Henry, another A&M
graduate, joined the band staff to be director of the all-female band,
assist with the symphonic band, teach low brass instruments, and music
education. His position expanded soon to be the marching band director and
The December band clinic was still
the major activity for the band in 1946. Only one day was allowed for
marching preparation on the Friday before a football game. Marching
presentations were very limited. Schedule changes were made by 1947 to
allow more time for marching preparation and one joint rehearsal with both
the male and female bands. Scheduling improvements and less clinic
participation helped to give the bands a better marching rehearsal time.
Band tours to state high schools
resumed in 1948 with two days and five or six concerts. There were clinic
performances and campus concerts in addition to playing at many college
events. The band played for commencements and for a few years there were
three each year, then two, and then only one. There were out of town
parades for special events, a generous inaugural every four years, and trips
to football games at Tulsa and OU. Two trips were made to the Kansas City
Royal Livestock Show. Two football game trips were made, one to Dallas and
one to Wichita, for which special trains were scheduled for football fans.
Athletic department funds were not available most of the time for trips.
There were many changes for assistant
band directors and directors of ROTC bands who had originally been woodwind
instructors. After Clement Hutchinson, there was Roger Widder, Willis
Olson, and Stanley Green. A second ROTC band was formed in 1955 for the Air
Force. Stanley Green was director for both bands.
Interest in the all-girls band began to
lessen by 1954. Also, at this time, new uniforms were needed. In 1955, a
decision was made to have just one band for both boys and girls using the
In 1957, Max Mitchell decided to devote
full time to the music department head position and other related
activities. So, Hiram Henry was appointed director of bands (Mr. Henry
retired in 1981, after thirty-five years of service to the university and to
the state of Oklahoma). Dr. Mitchell requested the hiring of another
director who would hold the main responsibility of the marching band.
However, the hiring of another director was not possible at that time. Dr.
Mitchell made the same request each year, but the request was not granted
until 1966. Two directors had four bands, pep bands, and a full teaching
load in other areas of the music department. A few changes made in the
music program included: the combining of the male and female band; the
marching band now named the “Aggie Band”; and the concert band being
downsized to a smaller wind ensemble which allowed for better performances
for the band clinic. During the second semester, the top performance band
was called the “concert band” with approximately 75 members, and the second
band was called the “campus band”.
State tours continued each spring with
concerts in a different section of the state each year for four years, then
repeat visits to the areas. Directors who were former students of the band
hosted many of the concerts. Each director was invited to conduct the band
in a march and when the band played in the hometown of a member, they were
encouraged to play a solo with the band. Many did. These tours were good
morale boosters for the band, good public relations, and good recruitment
for prospective members. The tours continued until the mid-1980’s.
Mr. Henry patterned his concerts in the
format of the Armed Forces Bands from Washington D.C. Each concert had a
variety of styles of music for the enjoyment of the audience and interesting
for the performers. Announcers were used for performance notes and soloists
were featured for most concerts. Duets and quartets were also presented
when accompaniments were available. Some transcriptions of orchestral
literature were performed because most of the band members had never had any
previous experience or opportunity to play in an orchestra. Most of the
music in later years was written for band and some very contemporary
selections were scheduled for each concert.
The university’s name was changed to
Oklahoma State University in 1957, and a contest for a new school song was
held. The present alma mater was selected along with the pep song “OSU.”
The Alumni Association director became
interested in having the marching band make an out-of-state trip each year
and helped to raise funds for this purpose. The first trip was to Kansas.
There was not enough money for lodging, so the band left Stillwater by bus
at midnight and arrived in Kansas in time for breakfast.
Later, in the 1960s, the athletic
department began funding one out-of-state trip each year. Trips were made
to Kansas, Texas, Missouri, Kansas State, and Nebraska. Overnight trips
included housing most of the time. Some places were visited more than
Rehearsal facilities were used in the
college auditorium for several years. But, after much growth, the band had
to move rehearsals. The next 23 years had a series of seven moves. All
moves, minus the last one, proved to house unsatisfactory rehearsal rooms
with little or no acoustical treatment and very limited space. The first
move, in 1948, was to an old army barracks, which was also a fire hazard and
was not covered by insurance. An addenda sheet shows the campus locations
of all the rehearsal locations. Other moves were in 1955, 1961, 1966, 1970,
and finally in 1971 to the rehearsal hall in the Seretean Center (Martin B.
“Bud” Seretean was a trumpet player in the band in 1947-48). Five of the
previously used rehearsal halls were demolished immediately after the band
Marching practice field locations were a
similar problem. First, rehearsals were in the stadium, but had to be
relocated in 1966. Three more changes were made in 1970, 1973, 1975, and
then back to the stadium in 1976.
The compulsory part of the ROTC was
ended at the university in 1967. Both ROTC bands were discontinued because
of the small enrollment. This made a lighter teaching load for the staff,
but it did cause the loss of all the instruments furnished by the military.
This loss was overcome with the purchase of some new instruments.
Another very active part of the band
program was the summer band. During WWII, there was a large contingent of
Navy personnel training on campus and they were housed in Willard Hall. Dr.
Mitchell organized a band from that group that played outdoor concerts on
the south lawn during the summer. The people of both the college and the
community received the concerts very well. It was decided to continue the
concerts after the war. The summer band was opened to membership of local
school band players, college personnel, and other interested players. They
were called the Summer Session-Community Band. Their size varied anywhere
from 65 to 75 members each summer.
The concerts were in the Theta Pond area
for several years and then moved to a concert shell that was located near
the stadium for several years. They then returned back to playing at Theta
Pond until 1981. They played on the east side of the Student Union for
several more years and were later discontinued. The band played five or six
concerts each year, with one being at the stadium for the Fourth of July
celebration for several years. They also played for commencement
After the band clinic stopped, the band,
augmented by high school directors, had reading sessions of new band music
over a two-day period. This continued for several years.
In 1966, a marching band director,
Albert Lynd, was hired to be in charge of all marching activities and the
pep band. He was a good music arranger, had good ideas, and good rehearsal
procedures. The marching band grew in size and was very well received by
the football crowds. He was the director for six years, until 1972.
The job description for the next
marching band director was to include the jazz band (stage band, etc…)
experience. The need for that area was filled for several years with some
student-organized groups in 1968-70. Former students Bill Rotter and Perry
Bond (directors) came to the campus for rehearsals. Then, from 1970-72,
band member Bob Henry directed the group, which gave concerts in dormitory
In 1972, Paul Montemurro was hired
to be the marching band and jazz band director. He was hired to also teach
trumpet and French horn. Mr. Montemurro was very competent in all areas and
had good rapport with the students. The marching band continued to grow and
The entire band program continued to
improve with the new rehearsal facility in the Seretean Center and the
expanded band staff. During this time, the concert band played two
different times for the Oklahoma Music Educators Association Convention,
once for the Southwestern Division of MENC in Kansas City, and once for the
Southwestern Division of the College Band Directors National Association.
Two concerts were taped and presented by television stations in Oklahoma
City. Campus concerts and tours were continued each during this time
In 1979, Paul Montemurro and several
former students organized an alumni band, which became very active for
several years. They had a marching band for the homecoming football game
each year and a concert band that played for basketball games during the
Christmas break. They also took a small group to some out-of-town football
games. Alumni band members now play and perform with the university band at
one football game each year. If the football team attends a bowl game over
Christmas break, the alumni members will fill in for the pep band members at
the basketball games during the bowl game.