Other Places: Shouldn’t Every Child Have A Chance?

This is an item from Bill Crow’s The Band Room column in the April issue of Allegro, the newspaper of New York Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians. We use it with Mr. Crow’s permission.

In the little town in Washington State where I grew up, our local school system had a full arts program. It was the 1930s, as this country struggled with the joblessness and poverty of the Great Depression. Bill_Crow1From grade school to high school, we had art and music classes in the regular curriculum. We had band, orchestra, and chorus. We sang in the classrooms. Parents provided the smaller instruments for band and orchestra, and the school provided the larger ones. The marching band had uniforms. There were tympani and basses for the orchestra and sousaphones for the band. I played a school-owned baritone horn until I reached high school, when an after-school job made it possible for me to buy one of my own. The school provided a drum set and arrangements for the swing band.

When I hear of all the cuts made in the arts in urban school systems nowadays, I wonder how our small town was able to carry such a full program during the Depression. Did we value the creative arts then more than we do now? Shouldn’t every child have a chance to learn to make his own music?

If you know who makes school budget decisions where you live, see that they read Bill’s plea. If you don’t know, give serious consideration to finding out. They, and we—all of us—should be ashamed.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Reddit


  1. dick vartanian says

    Having been a public school music teacher at one time, I can’t state strongly enough how much I support this.
    Unfortunately, time has taken me out of the loop and I can’t actively make any contribution. But where I can, I will

  2. says

    I thought this would be of significance for your blog in the light of Bill Crow’s column and that it reflects current attitude towards ‘quality of life music.’ We all are aware of budget cuts, but please note that ‘they’ kept the electronic rock group.*

    BUDGET CUTS – USNA Band Final Concert !!!

    Dear USNA Band Alumni, Family and Friends

    Please excuse this eleventh hour announcement. I received it only this morning…..

    It is with deep sadness that I forward the announcement of The United States Naval Academy Band’s Wind Ensemble’s final performance. Due to a restructuring of the band and its mission statement there will no longer be a wind ensemble or a big band. Going forward the band will consist of approximately 35 members whose primary function will be the parade deck, ceremonies, receptions, a few chamber groups and the *Electric Brigade contemporary group. The band will be augmented by U.S. Navy Band, Washington, DC, for performances as needed.

    If you live within a reasonable proximity of Annapolis, and you receive this in time, please join us tomorrow evening, Friday, April 11th, at 7:30 pm, at the Naval Academy Chapel for this historic final performance and an evening of fellowship with The Navy’s Oldest and Finest Band. This is YOUR United States Naval Academy Band.