This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Dr. Billy G. Walls and the Auburn University Bands, 1961-1991: A Story of Impact, Influence and Innovation




Bouldin, Thomas

Type of Degree



Curriculum and Teaching


The purpose of this study was to examine the career of Dr. Billy G. Walls at Auburn University. The study focused on three aspects of his career, namely: social, economic and political issues that affected the band program and decisions that Dr. Walls made in response to these issues, how these decisions and Dr. Walls’ teaching style affected his students, and the impact that Dr. Walls had on music education in Alabama and the southeast. Dr. Walls served in various positions with the Auburn University Band from 1961 to 1991, including Assistant Band Director, Band Director, and Auburn’s first Director of Bands. During this time period, the Auburn University Band experienced significant growth and many ground-breaking changes were initiated, including the SEC’s first African-American drum major, the first female drum major, the first wind and percussion ensembles, and the first band graduate assistant. Data collection for this qualitative study came primarily from semi-structured interviews with Dr. Walls and his former colleagues and students. Observations from this study can not only serve as a history of the Auburn band program between 1961 and 1991, but can also be used to inform the decision making processes of college band directors and instructors as they deal with social, economic and political issues and how these decisions impact their students.