A phenomenological study of the symbiotic nature of teaching and composing that exists within the contemporary band educator/conductor/composer
Burke, Dallas Cory
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Although the contemporary band director functions on a time-intensive schedule, a small population of these educators spend much of their non-teaching time composing music for ensembles they direct. This study sought to probe the mindset, motivation, and philosophical underpinnings of the band educator-composer. To understand the symbiotic relationship between the role of composer and educator, a population of 20 published band educator-composers was surveyed, using both Likert-scale and open-ended responses. The research findings identified band composer-educators as predominantly middle-aged white males with a master’s degree. While practical based reasons for their additional careers as composers were cited, such as helping support family or earning money towards retirement, their greatest motivation was identified as the joy garnered from their personal artistic expression. Perhaps a less expected finding, the majority of this population did not begin their careers with the intent to compose. More often, their interest in composition began by writing band arrangements; expanding to original works when they saw a need for literature suitable for their ensembles. Those who have followed this path generally write for the educational market (grade levels 1-4) and see no dichotomy of quality between “educational” and “artistic” works. Rather they consider their compositions as a balance between artistic expression and the practical demands (and limitations) of younger, developing musicians.