School of Music


Doctor of Music Education (DME)


Nathan Street


Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Battle of the Bands, Hazing, HBCU Band Community, HBCU Marching Bands


Education | Music


Since the late nineteenth century, marching bands have served as an integral component of the fabric of Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) campuses. In addition to performing for millions of fans annually, HBCU marching bands serve as brand ambassadors for their university's communities. Marching bands at four HBCUs from the southeastern United States comprised the sample for this study. Despite their many successes, each band experiences significant challenges, including declining school enrollment, limited recruitment opportunities, low retention rates, insufficient budgets and staffing, hazing allegations, and increasingly expensive travel costs. More research currently needs to be done that details the negative influences of these challenges. This mixed methods research examines historical data, performance analysis, and the perspectives of HBCU band members, directors, administrators, and alums. To illustrate the experience of the chosen HBCU bands, interviews with current and former band directors and band members will determine their challenges and how the marching band has enriched their lives. This study provides critical development strategies for current and future HBCU band directors to help advance and strengthen their programs.