The Iowa Bandmasters Association came into being at Fairfield, Iowa, on March 30, 1928. This organization, originated entirely by municipal band directors, was formed partly because of threatened legislative action against the Band Law.
The Constitution drawn up at this first meeting in Fairfield states that “the name of this Association shall be the Iowa Band Association.” A subsequent search of the records doesn’t reveal when the name was changed to “Bandmasters Association,” but a letter dated July 14, 1930 by the newly elected secretary, Alonzo Leach, refers to “the annual meeting of the Iowa Bandmasters Association.” Although early records are somewhat sketchy, an unsigned copy of the minutes of the first meeting is still in the secretary’s file, and is interesting from the standpoint of the business conducted and the names of the directors mentioned as having participated. From these minutes we learn the following: “The first meeting of the proposed new Band association was held in the Armory, at Fairfield, Iowa, March 30 at 1 p.m. The meeting was called to order with H.J. Charlton of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, in the chair as temporary president.”
Mr. William Laurier, bandleader for the 133rd Infantry, told the bandleaders assembled of the object of the meeting. A Constitution and By-Laws were adopted, section by section, and the following officers elected to head the new organization: Mr. William Laurier, President; Mr. William Dodd of Keokuk, Secretary-Treasurer.
The Constitution provided for annual dues of ten cents per member for bands and fifty cents for bandleaders and individual memberships. The purpose of the organization as stated in the new Constitution was “to foster and promote the establishment of bands and to cooperate in the establishment and improvement of bands and band music in the State of lowa in general.” The Executive Committee was directed to hold two meetings a year, for the purpose of conducting the business of the organization.
Those shown as having paid dues at the first meeting were: William Laurier, Walter Johnson, Arthur Taylor, Harry Schneider, Roy Park, Dr. Tomy, Will Dodd, Arthur Bowlsby, Ennis Sterner, A.W. Read, H.J. Charlton, W.H. Bower, George Wise, Dr. Gillette, R.P. Bower, Geo. Simons, and F.L. McCreary.
The second meeting was held in Des Moines on April 1, 1929, with eleven men signing the registration sheet. These were: Roy Park, Alonzo Leach, Clate Chenette, William Laurier, Arthur Bowlsby, Victor Hovey, Karl King, C.A. Hayden, Paul Atkins, George Landers and Paul Wuebben. These men were listed as being directors of a wide variety of bands, including a United States Cavalry band, an infantry band, a Legion band, a K.P. band, Municipal bands, and the Drake University Band; but none were directors of high school bands.
The Legislature was in session at this time and a bill had just been passed by the House and sent to the Senate to amend the Band Law to have it include more than just “a band.” This brought about the incident whereby Major Landers and two or three other directors went to the Govemor, presenting themselves as representatives from a big state convention of Bandsmen being held in Des Moines, with instructions to ask the Governor to veto the proposed bill should it pass both the House and Senate and reach his office for signature.
In the following year the organization received a much needed boost when Karl King invited it to come to Ft. Dodge for a convention. Lon Leach recalled that Mr. King, “went to the city officials and told them he was bringing a big state convention to town, much to the delight of the Chamber of Commerce”.
From these humble beginnings by a small group of dedicated bandmasters, the I.B.A. has grown to a membership of over 1000, most of whom are directors of school bands. It is one of the largest and most active of all state bandmaster organizations in the country. Its driving force has kept good bands and good band music thriving in communities of all sizes throughout the state of Iowa.