In the fall of 1919, a group of ten young college students at the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) College in Stillwater, Oklahoma conceived the idea of a fraternal organization that honored the values of leadership, dedication, and brotherhood within the college band experience. However, these ten seemingly ordinary young men where honoring something much larger then just their love for college band music or the organization that had brought them together as brothers. They were honoring the American musical evolution that persists to the present day through the medium of their college band and how local musical experience has made that musical heritage in a word: ?unique?. The best example of this larger tribute can be seen in the elevation of Bohumil Mackovsky, the head of the music department at Oklahoma A&M College and the college?s long time Director of Bands, to first the Grand Presidency of Kappa Kappa Psi and then to immortality as our fraternal guiding spirit. His influence over the direction of the music department of Oklahoma A&M and the fraternal order of Kappa Kappa Psi is deeply rooted in his background as a professional musician, who?s experiences mirrored the cultural trends in music, how they influenced his catalog and selection of worthwhile pieces, and how the local community responded as his awaiting audience and influenced future projects as his most direct musical critics. It is only fitting then that if we as brothers are to better understand the musical traditions of our respective sponsoring institutions (and therefore to better serve them), that we must look to the communities that bore them and find their musical heritage and how it has influenced our traditions as college musicians.
As a member of the Alpha class, pledging into the Lambda Delta chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi in the spring of 2004, I was bombarded on a daily basis with the rich history of both the fraternity as a whole and of the local heritage of my university band. By doing this, our Vice-President of Membership and ?guiding spirit? hoped that we might better understand the traditions and workings of the fraternity better. Sitting in the hot and uncomfortable band room adjoining to Memorial Auditorium on the Shippensburg University campus, I couldn?t help but remember the words to my dear alma mater: ?In the dear old Cumberland Valley, beneath the glowing sky?proudly stands our alma mater, on a hill top high?? I wondered what had attracted such musical leaders and what had pushed the evolution of an organization that might have never existed otherwise. Shippensburg did not start as a musical college; rather it was a teacher?s college. In the spring of 2005, now a brother, I attended the Shippensburg graduation ceremony at Seth Grove Stadium and was astonished to see a group of old men and women with instruments and blue jackets playing before the crowd. They were the Shippensburg Town Band. I found myself wondering what was the story behind this group and role did it have to play in the University I now attended. Could they or their predecessors have helped to influence the starting of a music department here at Ship? The answers to these and other questions I?m sure can be found in the rich local history of the community and county in which this institution grew.