Marching Forward: The Music Education Innovation and Legacy of James R. Wells (1931 ) Academic Article uri icon


  • James R. Wells, retired professor of West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania, could be considered one of the most influential and innovative band directors of the late twentieth century. Wells influenced and mentored many current leaders in the music education field as well as created educational music programs that continue today. In the 20162017 school year, Wellss ensemble music adjudication festival programs involved more than 220,000 students. To gain further insight into the origin and development of these leaders and programs, I conducted an oral history case study with Wells. I collected interviews, e-mail correspondence, and artifacts provided by former students and colleagues of Wellss to provide additional facts and corroborate Wellss memories. Results demonstrated Wells incorporated comprehensive musicianship and aesthetic education in marching band pedagogy, professional development and educational experiences for music educators through films, workshops, and adjudicated festivals. He also empowered student leadership and promoted gender equality in instrumental ensembles. Knowledge gained from this study provides insight into the origin of these important music education individuals and programs. I hope that the findings in this study serve as an inspiration to future music educators as they continue to improve and create new experiences and opportunities for students.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Historical Research in Music Education

altmetric score

  • 2.7

author list (cited authors)

  • Brumbach, G. A.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Brumbach, Glen A

publication date

  • April 2020