Title page for ETD etd-05072003-145201

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Keough, Sara Beth
Author's Email Address skeough@vt.edu
URN etd-05072003-145201
Title The Geography of Community Bands in Virginia
Degree Master of Science
Department Geography
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Richardson, Bonham C. Committee Chair
Cohen, Richard Scott Committee Member
Scarpaci, joseph L. Jr. Committee Member
  • Virginia
  • community bands
  • music geography
Date of Defense 2003-04-24
Availability unrestricted
In the first half of the twentieth century in Virginia, the town band was a popular concert venue and sometimes a symbol of community pride. Originally, community bands faced few competitors for entertainment popularity, but the advent of movie theaters in the 1930’s, and eventually television in the 1950’s, challenged the band’s former role. Attendance decreased at band concerts and the community space that bands had occupied was allotted for other uses. Despite this decline, the town band survived. Virginia is home to at least 34 community bands today.

This study presents a geographic analysis of present day community bands in Virginia. I visited 25 active bands and administered a twenty-five question, self-designed survey to 900 band members (98% response rate). I also personally interviewed conductors and band presidents. Members reported demographic information and the distances and time that they traveled. I also explored how band members perceive their role in the community based on their participation in the community band. I then examined the variation of responses across the state. Results show that bands in Virginia consist primarily of educated, retired individuals with previous musical experience. While traveling the same distance, band members spend more time traveling in regions with large metropolitan areas than in rural regions. Finally, although band members in rural areas received higher sense of community scores than those in metropolitan areas, the scores for both areas were encouragingly high. The results indicate that although regional variations exist for the variables of travel and sense of community, community music in Virginia has a solid rate of participation, and community bands will continue to serve their respective regions in the state.

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