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WAINWRIGHT STORY...PREPARING FOR CONTEST
Thursday, March 22, 1979


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PIX #1 - 1922-23 FOSTORIA HIGH BAND - Flutes and Piccolo: Lawrence Bredbeck, principal, Walter Bristow, Royal McCracken; clarinets: Wilbur Shultz, principal, George Schlatter, Virgil Switzer, Robert Shaffer, Walter May, Harry Hale, Homer Spangler, Tom Wirebaugh, Charles Huber, Nicholas Kiebel, Fred Rossie, John Weaver, Wade Loe, Kenneth Gregory; E-flat clarinet: Robert Snyder; oboe: Vic Myers; battery: Grenville Hearst, Charles Hunt, Richard Fraver, Ralph Sackett, Charles Roby, Don Shledon, Charles Carroll; Tympani: Howard Baynton; soprano sax: Myron Liebengood; alto sax: Paul Stein, Howard St. John; tenor sax: Junior Myers; baritone sax: Joe Arnold; tubas: George Green, principal, Orin Carroll, Claire Crunkilton, Harold Hartley; baritones: Howard Wikle, principal, Norman Muench, Dan Warren; cornets: Arvine Harrold, principal; Richard Conley, William Franke, Kenneth Hooper, Harry Scott, William Richards, James Richards, Marvine Hoffman, Byron Stearns, Charles Stearns, Will Lampe, James Carter; trombones: Robert Warren, principal, Calvin Francis, Leland Cribbs, Richard Stewart, Henry Spooner, Robert Myers, Guy Workman, John Yeasting, Floyd Muench; french horns: Lyndon Abbott, principal, Ralph Cramer, Will Lockhart, Maylon Sheller, Russell Simon, John Hayfield.

In April of 1919, Wainwright announced he would have a 60-piece band ready to march in the Decoration Day Parade. The parade date was only a month away, and the exercises were to be unusually elaborate as a tribute to returned soldiers. Wainwright's announcement was too much even for his best friend. The two rather tottering city bands jeered good naturedly, and the two local newspapers honored Wainwright with the statement that it could not be done.

For the parade the band could play but one march, one which Wainwright wrote especially for the band, in which he displayed the talents of some of the particularly musically advanced boys. But that one march they could really play. They had also drilled exhaustively upon the military etiquette of parade with the results that their first public appearance was on the whole musically and otherwise far above the amateurish, instead of crude as everyone expected.

Wainwright's comments about that first parade were later printed in Journal of Music Supervisors National Conference:

"From that day on the majoriy of the Fostoria citizens were our loyal boosters and helpers. People who had wrangled over a dozen matters of municipal concern found one thing which seemed to fill a long felt need, for which they were willing to give...namely the high school band. As we progressed in ability and usefulness they progressed in cooperation and generosity".

MORE REHEARSAL TIME

Dr. James Carter, a member of the early band, relates that the band continued to rehearse throughout the summer of 1919 and was ready to perform concert programs by September. He also recalls that once school started, regular rehearsals of the band were held every Monday night from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

As an incentive for the boys to attend the rehearsal, Wainwright arranged a plan whereby the boys would receive complimentary admission to the local picutre theatre or a free soda at the local ice cream parlor, according to band member James Guernsey.

Later, Wainwright pressed the school board for more rehearsal time and in about 1922 or 1923 was granted time from 12:45 to 1:45 pm on Tuesday afternoons.

SCHOOL SONGS WRITTEN

In 1919, Wainwright and his wife wrote the music for the Fostoria High School alma mater. The words were written by Geraldine Himburg, a member of the 1919 graduating class and valedictorian. The song was first sung in 1919 at the school's commencement and was dedicated to Ida McDermott, high school principal.

According to Miss Himburg, one day Wainwright stood on the stage of the school and said, "This school needs an alma mater. If one of you students will write the words, I will put it to music. It will be a contest, and I'll pay the winner $5".

Wainwright and his wife also wrote the school's football song the same year and dedicated it to F.H. Warren.

According to Don Perrine, Fostoria school band director, the football song is no longer used as the school's "fight-song", but the alma mater is still the same.

BAND UNIFORMS BOUGHT

In the spring of 1920 the band gave a concert to raise money for uniforms. They played to packed house which responded generously.

With money raised from concerts, with the aid from the athletic association, Elks and Masonic Lodges, and business men, the band was uniformed. It took 18 months to raise the money, and the 65 uniforms cost $2,000.

The band made two important appearanced during the 1919-1920 school year; first at a political rally for President Warren G. Harding in Marion, Ohio; and at a Democratic rally in Dayton for presidential candidate James M. Cox.

OHIO TEACHERS CONCERT

In the spring of 1921 the band played at the Ohio State Teachers Association at Cedar Point. Wainwright considered this to be one of the band's most important engagements. He remarked, "The fact that our concerts there was successful and that afterwards we received a great many inquiries from different parts of the state asking for particulars about our instrumental music department, seemed to prove that our organization was more than just a pastime; that, although unique in its idea at the outset, it was fast gaining recognition as a fundamental part of school work".

The Fostoria band's performance at the teacher's meeting had a greater impact than Wainwright had imagined, and two events surfaced after the meeting.

First, band programs were organized in Fremont, Toledo, Kenton, Kent, Painesville and Napoleon. Wainwright was hired by contract to organize a band program in each town. He did just that and hired a teacher to administer it.

Secondly, the Ohio State Department of Education informed Wainwright that students participating in instrumental music in the Fostoria schools could receive credit toward graduation, one quarter unit for each year of work.

The Fostoria High School Band was one of the first in the nation to be allowed curriculum credits.

MORE BANDS AND ORCHESTRAS

By the spring of 1922 Wainwright had organized three bands and two orchestras in Fostoria. The orchestra included one for the high school and one called the Emerson Orchestra, composed of Freshmen, with Wainwright as their advisor, but playing under the baton of 14-year old Richard Conley, who was a regular member of the band.

The bands now included a girls band, a junior band and the high school band. The band of 40 girls included youngsters from grades four through high school. They played in the Memorial Day Parade and then in the Knights Templar Commandary Parade in October in Cleveland. They were outritted in whited middies, skirts, and tams and played, "Onward Christian Soldiers".

The junior band was similar to the high school band. Once the members of the junior band became proficient on their instruments they were placed in the high school band.

YOUNGEST BAND MEMBERS

The Fostoria High School Band was not originally comprised soley of high school age students. Some members started with the band as early as second and third graders. James Carter is credited with the longest service record. He recalls starting his cornet lessons as a first grader and playing in the band that same year.

James Guernsey, a French hornist with one of Wainwright's larger bands, recalls that his instruction began in the second grade, and he started playing in the band in the third grade.

Guernsey related the following story "Jack knew that my parents had a little money and could afford an instrument and lessons. Jack would always find out who in town could afford an instrument. The next think I knew he was over to our house checking to see how straight my baby teeth were. He needed French horn players for the band and convinced my mother that this was the instrument for me. The next thing I knew I was taking lessons".

SUNDAY CONCERTS

During the school year of 1922-1923, Wainwright instituted a series of Sunday afternoon concerts in the auditorium. The concerts, an outgrowth of the recital series inaugurated in 1919, included not only the band, but soloists and ensembles as well. Wainwright wrote of this concert series:

"The advantages of these programs as we foresaw them, and as proved to be, were many. First it gave the boys something to work for, so that they were apt to be regular in attendance and more attentive when present; second, it gave them practice in playing in public and following their director; third, it gave them the opportunity of reading a great deal of music and a necessity a different sort of music than they would be playing in the march or at ball games. In other words they were now required to play real concert music in true artistic style".

"Perhaps it goes without saying that these weekly concerts are a God send to the music and an avocation, and as a result those who continued to live in this area helped carry on the music tradition by becoming involed in musical groups".

Lola Lutzie, who was in one of Wainwright's early orchestras, became the featured pianist in Phil Spitalny's All Girl Orchestra.

The Richard brothers, Jim and Bill, had their own dance band.

Ernie Duffield also had a dance band for many years, and has contributed to the success of local musical groups such as VFW Band and City Band.

Jurd Bayles studied under Wainwright and later became a music instructor and band leader.

There are probably many others, besie those named who could be added to the list of Wainwright students who chose music as their profession. Undoubtedly readers will remind the Potluck editor whom they are.

DIDN'T LIKE SAXOPHONE

An interesting sidelight to Wainwright's comment concering "jazz" and insipid melodies, is the opinion of Ernie Duffield that he did not particularly care for saxophones.

In reviewing the instrumentation of Fostoria High bands for years 1922-23-26- 27, Wainwright doubled most of the instruments of the band except the sax section. He seemed to carry only enough sapophones to cover the parts: one soprano, two alto, (one fir and one second), one tenor and one baritone. This seems to verify Duffield's observation.

However, teacher Mabel Bourquin expressed this thhought about the 1922 band "This band is unique in that it has more woodwinds than the average, and a partial substitution of French horns in place of alto horns gives a peculiarly noble resonance. Even in its fortissimo passages it is never brassy, and in restrained work it approaches the orchestra in richness".

INSTRUMENTATION 1923 BAND

The instrumentationn of the 1923 band was: three flutes and piccolos, one E-flat soprano clarnet, 14 B-flat soprano clariets, one oboe, one soprano saxophone, two alto saxophones, one tenor saxophone, one baritone saxophones, six French horns, 12 cornets, nine trombones, three baritone horns, four tubas, seven percussion, one tympani.

In the spring of 1923, Wainwright became director of the Ohio National Guard Band, Camp Perry, Ohio. Many of the more talented Fostoria band members joined the group.

According to Vivan Pearson, the band made its first official spring vacation tour the week of April 2, 1923, going to Kent, Akron, Lisbon, East Liverpool, Canton and Cuyahoga Falls.

WAINWRIGHT THE SHOWMAN

Wainwright was a master showman. During the 1923, spring tour, the band played Rossini's William Tell Overture, which consists of four movements; dawn, storm, calm and finale. To make the storm movement more realistic, Wainwright asked Floyd J. Kinnaman to devise electrical effects to simulate lightning and thunder. When the band played the storm movement at the Lisbon Opera House, Harold Switzer was operating the electrical equipment and managed to set the opera house on fire. As the story goes, tuba player George Greene was in the "fire zone" at the time and scampered to safety while playing, without missing a note.

Another time, Duffield recalls performing the Anvil Chorus at a concert, when Wainwright rented a number of anvils that when struck would give off electrical sparks, thereby adding to the excitement of the music.

Jim Guernsey recalls that when the band would acknowledge the audience, and then step on the podium. Once planted there, he would strike his conductor's stand opposite from where his baton rested, therby thrusting the baton into the air, whereupon he would catch it with his right hand and simultaneously give the downbeat for the next piece.

BAND RECRUITING

It was during the 1923 spring tour that Wainwright recruited G. Austin Kuhns as a cornet player for the Fostoria band. Kuhns, who lived in Lisbon, was brought to Fostoria where he lived with a local family during his senior year in school. Kuhns was the solo cornet contest winner in the 1924 Ohio School Band Contest. He later became an instrumental music teacher in the Findlay and Steubenville public schools. Wainwright continued a policy of recruiting talented non-resident students for the Fostoria band.

1923 NATIONAL CONTEST

On April 28, 1923, Wainwright received a telephone call from Patrick Henry, an advertising agent, hired by the Band Instrument Manufacturers. Association, to organize and promote a national competition for school bands. He invited the Fostoria band to participate in the contest to be held June 4-6, 1923, in Chicago. Henry informed Wainwright that the "tournament" as it was advertised would have hundreds of bands participating.

In April 30, 1923, edition of the Fostoria Daily Review reported a campaign to secure funds for the trip to Chicago. Evidently Wainwright must have accepted the invitation immediately.

Another telephone call from Henry, later, informed Wainwright that 100 bands had been eliminated and that 100 bands, including Fostoria, would participate. As it turne out at the time of the contest 30 bands participated.

The contest, organized as entertainment and a band instrument promotional adventure, helped influence the course of histroy of instrumental music education in the public schools of the U.S.

PREPARATION FOR CONTEST

Wainwright's initial task was to raise enough money...approximately $2000... to cover the expenses of taking the band to Chicago and return. The question in Wainwright's mind was, "Would Fostorians rally to the cause?"

They did! The members of the Fostoria Rotary Club and Exchange Club organized the Band Boosters Club, also known as the "Tooter's Club". The Band Boosters were primarily towns people and business men that did not necessarily have students in the band. The mothers of the band boys formed their own organization which they titled "Mothers of the Band Boys". They held bake sales to raise money.

A concert series was inaugurated by the Band Boosters to raise funds for the trip and eventually they raised $1300. When all monies from the fund raising efforts were counted there was enought to finance the Chicago trip.

MUSIC PREPARATION

There was no official "required" musical selections for the contest, nor official list from which to compose selections. Free to choose compositions that best suited the band's instrumentation and capabilities, Wainwright chose "Bohemian Girl Overture", by Balfe. As a warm up march he selected "The Spirit of Fostoria March", which he and his wife had written.

Later, in a speech, Wainwright recalled, we practiced Bohemian Girl, talked Bohemian Girl, the band whistled and sang Bohemian Girl. We played it at every Sunday concert, at every chapel exercise and every other time we could get anyone to listen to it. Before we went to Chicago I think everyone in Fostoria could whistle or him the melody from beginning to end.

REHEARSAL DISCIPLINE

In preparation for the contest, the band rehearsed two nights a week and presented a weekly sunday afternoon concert. Wainwright suffered from bursitis and it was not unusual for him to conduct rehearsals with the baton in the left hand when the pain became unbearable.

Rehearsals were disciplined and "fooling around" was not tolerated. Wainwright was a very tempermental and a perfectionist. When a rehearsal was not progressing properly, or if the band was not performing to the best of its ability, Wainwright would often display his feelings in a physical outburst. He would "beat" the floor with a music stand or break a baton. It was reported that he bought batons by the gross.

Members of the Fostoria Band, interviewed in recent years, attributed his temper to the fact that he was a perfectionist, and an artist of the highest standards, but all agreed that the boys deeply repected him.

Wainwright himself alluded to his "outburst" in some of his writings. They have to be startled out of their state of dormancy once in awhile...sometimes twice in awhile. They have to catch the vision. My own indicidual means of "waking them up" may not always coincide with the best recognized pedagogical principles, but it gets results.

An Sunday afternoon concert series was credited by Wainwright as one of the greatest factors toward winning the championship honors. There is an old saying "Practice makes Perfect", he said, and it certainly worked wonders in this case.

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