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Marching Band Directors’ Attitudes Towards Participation in Marching Band Competitions: A Descriptive Survey




Glasscock, Robert

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Curriculum and Teaching


The purpose of this quantitative study was to learn about the reasons high school band directors choose to participate in marching band competitions. This was a descriptive study which involved an anonymous online survey. Participants (N = 265) included secondary school band directors in the United States who were also members of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). A survey was distributed to participants using the Research Survey Assistance Program through NAfME. The survey instrument contained three sections. The first section consisted of 15 closed-ended, multiple-choice questions and two open-ended questions intended to gather demographic information about the director and their marching band. The survey continued with 35 Likert-type items that sought marching band directors’ attitudes and opinions concerning their participation in marching band competitions. Frequencies and means were used to tally responses in attitudes of directors. Likert items were grouped into scales based on themes found in the literature. A Kruskal-Wallis H test was conducted on each Likert scale to determine if any significant (p < .05) differences existed between each demographic item and other survey responses. Twenty-five statistically significant results were found when comparing the 5 Likert item scales and four individual Likert items with the 17 demographic variables. These results revealed three key findings. First, over half of the directors (n = 144, 54.4%) ranked the educational value associated with competitions as important or the most important variable when choosing to participate in marching band competitions. Next, the items for pressures associated with competitions received the lowest ranking for importance (n = 86, 36.4%). Finally, the region where a band director lives and works, the years of teaching experience, and the style of marching band seems to have some effect on attitudes of marching band directors and participation in competitions. Results from this study are not conclusive due to the limited sample. Further research and data analysis are needed to address key areas of this study. Younger directors (0 – 4 years of experience) indicated they pressure themselves to compete at a higher level than any other age group. The first five years for a new director are a critical time for their development and continued success in the field of teaching. A more in-depth study of how pressures directly affect band directors should be conducted. Another area of this study with implications for future music education research was the importance directors placed on the educational value of competitions. While the educational value of marching band competitions remains rather controversial, results of this study indicate this was the most important variable in their decision to participate in marching band competitions. Music educators need to continue to develop competitions that are equitable for all marching bands that choose to participate and provide ways for students and directors to receive positive and constructive feedback that improves student performance. A study focusing on the development and implementation of standards-based competitions would be beneficial to the field of music education.