Notes da Capo

In 1981 the MENC national office requested that the West Virginia Music Educators Association create the position of Historian in order that records pertaining to music education in our state might be preserved.

The WVMEA Executive Board appointed Clifford W. Brown in June of that year to the first historian, and he served in this capacity until his tragic death in November of 1988. John L. Puffenbarger of Buckhannon, West Virginia was appointed to replace Dr. Brown, and he served until October of 2008.

Materials concerning music education in the state have been collected and stored in the library archives in the West Virginia and Regional History Collection that is located in the Charles C. Wise, Jr. Library on the WVU Downtown Campus. In addition, the WVMEA historians have written articles of historical interest, entitled "Notes da Capo", for the WVMEA publication, NOTES A TEMPO.

The "Notes da Capo" articles on this website were taken from past issues of NOTES A TEMPO, beginning with Dr. Brown’s first column in November 1983.


Clifford W. Brown was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, June 23, 1912. After graduation from Point Marion High School, Point Marion, Pennsylvania, he attended West Virginia University, and in 1933 earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in music education. He also studied at the University of Michigan in 1936, and at Carnegie-Mellon from 1938-1941.

Brown held many positions in his career. He was supervisor of music in the South Union School District, Uniontown, Pennsylvania; acting director of the West Virginia University band; instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, professor at WVU; and chairman of music education at the university. He served the WVMEA as president, and was also president of the WV College Music Educators Association.

John L. Puffenbarger was born in Fairmont, West Virginia on March 25, 1939. He graduated from East Fairmont High School and Fairmont State College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in music education. He also studied at West Virginia University and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Puffenbarger taught at Clarksburg Washington Irving High School from 1961-64. He taught at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, and county grade schools until he retired in 1996. He has held WVMEA positions as:

  • Secretary, WV Bandmasters Association
  • Editor, NOTES A TEMPO
  • President, WV Bandmasters Association
  • President, County Music Educators
  • President, Phi Beta Mu, WV (Tau) Chapter
  • WVBA Adjudicator
  • Coordinator, WVMEA Solo & Ensemble Festivals

A collection of Notes da Capo articles by Clifford Brown:

First Meeting of Music Teachers in 1920 - November 1983


NOTES DA CAPO - By Clifford Brown
November 1983

Who were these music teachers? Supervisors, elementary specialists, private teachers? How did they get to the meeting? By train, trolley, or horse and buggy? We don't know the answers to these questions, but historical records reveal that 1920 was the first meeting of school music teachers in West Virginia. Like other subject-matter groups, they met as the "music section" at the annual conference of what was then the State Education Association (SEA). The chair, probably assigned by the SEA, was Lucy Robinson, a music supervisor from Wheeling.

Just imagine the setting in 1920! It was the post-World War I era; Woodrow Wilson was President; acoustic record players and silent movies were prevalent; Henry Ford's "flivver" was leading the auto pack; radio was in its infancy; and your parents were probably in grade school. Music instruction, except in the elementary classroom, was not considered a responsibility of the public schools. Individual lessons by private teachers, paid for by the parents, was the accepted way to learn music. High school music groups - choir, glee club, madrigal singers, orchestra, mandolin club - met as an "activity" outside school hours.

The only music certificate available in 1920 was the music supervisor's certificate. A curriculum in Public School Music (PSM) was just being developed in West Virginia institutions of higher learning. With the limited number of positions available, the demand for a PSM degree was minimal. Of the 389 school districts in West Virginia at that time, only a few could afford or justify hiring a music supervisor who would assist the elementary teachers and direct the high school choral instrumental groups. Some districts would -employ a local musician part-time by obtaining temporary certification.

The WVMEA today is a conglomerate of affiliated organizations that serve music education from kindergarten through the doctoral level. It took more than forty years of persistent and dogged effort to make music a part of school/ community life. A real struggle it was, but more about that later.

Tacet . . . for now.

Beginnings of Band 'Festival' vs. 'Contest' - January 1984
A Child is Born - 1936 - February 1984
West Virginia's Struggle for School Music - October 1984
Two Teaching Fields Required - November 1984
College Teachers Unite With WVMEA - February 1985
Finally - A State Music Consultant - March 1985
Stage Bands Developed Gradually - October 1985
Here Comes the Show Choir - January 1986
We Honor Our Presidents - February 1986
Music in the Elementary Grades - February 1986
Music in the Elementary Schools - A Supplement - October 1986
Lowell Mason Started It All - March 1987
The Career of Dr. Will Earhart - April/May 1987
Focus on School Orchestras - November 1987
All-State Orchestra History (Part 1) - January 1988
All-State Orchestra History (Part 2) - February 1988
Community Organizations Promote School Music - September 1988
Clifford W. Brown (1912-1988) Dies in Auto Accident

A collection of articles by John Puffenbarger:

Coming soon...

A collection of articles by John Puffenbarger: (continued)

Coming soon...