Iowa Band Law March

Posted in IBA March Project

The Iowa Band Law March (published 1923)……………………………........................................….………...Karl L. Kingkking

Dedicated to Major George W. Landers, sponsor of the state law that allowed city tax monies to be spent on local municipal bands.  Karl L. King directed this march with the largest mass band ever assembled – 188 high school bands, almost 13,000 musicians, more than 80,000 people in the stands at a University of Michigan football game in 1960  that was nationally televised.

In 1921, due to lobbying efforts by Karl King, Alonzo Leach, and Major George Landers, the Iowa legislature passed an act actually written by Landers, but known officially as House File 479, and enacted as the Municipal Band Law.  Municipalities with a population of less than 40,000 were authorized to levy a tax not to exceed 2 mills annually. First, a petition had to be signed by 10 percent of the eligible voters requesting that the issue be placed on the ballot at the next municipal election.  If passed, the tax could be activated, although it could be for less than the allowed 2 mills.  A local band would now become truly "municipal" in that it was actually a department of city government like the water department or the street department.  No longer would a bandmaster have to beg support from a commercial club or a chamber of commerce year after year and never be quite sure if enough money was going to materialize.  Funds for the maintenance of the band could be written right into the city budget.

The Iowa Band Law proved to be extremely popular, and hundreds of towns and small cities in Iowa took advantage of the opportunity to have a publicly funded local band.  The Iowa Band Law was copied by 33 states and at least three foreign countries.  Despite government cutbacks in recent years, several municipal bands in Iowa continue to thank the Iowa Band Law for their annual funding.

Karl King wrote his march, "The Iowa Band Law," when the bill was passed.  It is of modest difficulty, and remains one of his most popular marches with both school and community bands.

Information taken from...

The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa, edited by David Hudson, Marvin Bergman, and Loren Horten (U of Iowa Press)
Hawkeye Glory, by Thomas Hatton (Golden Dragon Press)  


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93rd Annual IBA Conference

May 14-16, 2020

Des Moines Marriott Downtown

700 Grand Avenue

Des Moines, Iowa  50309