Once Upon a Time

Quincy High School Concert Band Turns 100

The Quincy High School Concert Band is shown in this 1920 photo taken at the west entrance of the 1892 Quincy High School building at 12th and Maine. | Photo courtesy of the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County
By MELISSA DEVERGER
Posted: Jul. 21, 2019 12:10 am Updated: Jul. 21, 2019 12:50 am

Part 1 of 3

 

In March 1920, Paul Morrison, a Quincy Senior High School teacher, created the first Quincy Senior High Band with more than 30 students participating. Morrison posted a notice on March 1, 1920, asking for interested students to join. Rehearsals began immediately for various positions, with the first general rehearsal on March 18, 1920. The band's first performance was March 31 at the Lions Club, with the band also playing the next day at a school assembly.

The band started appearing at more school events to entertain Quincy residents and visitors. At a May 6, 1920, school program, the band entertained with songs such as "America," "Illinois" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Because of the success of these performances, more students joined the band, and a second band was formed. The second band made such rapid progress that most members were able to play along with the first band in the Public School Field Day on May 21, 1920.

While this was the beginning of the student bands' 100-year history at Quincy High, their success was the culmination of a long history of music as part of the curriculum at Quincy Senior High. These early educators who valued musical education laid the foundation for the band's formation in March 1920.

Philip C. (P.C.) Hayden started Dec. 2, 1888, as a music teacher at a salary of $85 per month. Music had already been a vibrant part of the community for many years, and the school board saw the benefits of teaching music to students. Hayden was a member of the community and known for his musical abilities, offering his services to teach women and men voice culture and instruction as early as Feb. 5, 1884.

Hayden was born in Ontario, Canada, on Nov. 20, 1854. He studied at the University of New York, graduating in 1877. After that, he attended the Oberlin, Ohio, Conservatory of Music for four years before moving to Quincy about 1881.

On Oct. 16, 1886, Hayden married Quincy native Mary Neely Ralston. She was born Oct. 16, 1859, to Dr. Joseph N. Ralston, a prominent area physician.

In July 1889, Hayden was listed in the board of education report as a music teacher with a salary of $860, placing him among the more highly paid teachers at Quincy schools. In July 1890, the board of education listed Hayden's salary as music supervisor at $900. In 1892, he was hired to teach music in the Keokuk, Iowa, public schools for $600 for two days of work a week. He would continue to teach music in the Quincy schools, saying he could give the proper attention to pupils in both schools to see them advance.

Hayden saw the importance of showcasing his work with students and highlighting their progress. On May 26, 1893, he directed the High School Musical Union as the students performed George F. Root's cantata "David, the Shepherd Boy" for a packed audience at the school. It was reported the concert was a huge success, and the audience was delighted by the excellent performances and solos from the students. Funds from the event benefited the high school piano fund.

Hayden's influence was not limited to the area. In July 1898, Hayden was photographed in Washington, D.C., attending the National Education Association conference, as president of the music department.

On July 11, 1900, members of the board of education held a secret meeting where it was decided to reduce expenses by cutting the salaries of more highly paid teachers, dropping the music program, and terminating the employment of Hayden and the physical education teacher. Hayden decided at that time to move to Keokuk to direct the music program in public schools. He established the magazine School Music sometime after 1900, going on to edit the publication for at least another 20 years. He also was credited with founding the first annual meeting of the Music Supervisors National conference.

On May 11, 1925, Hayden was in a car accident, from which he never recovered. He died the next day, May 12, at age 70. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery.

When the board of education dropped the music program in 1900 because of lack of funds, there also was a serious local debate about the reduction in teacher salaries, which was adopted at this time. Many members of the community fought to reinstate the higher salaries. This debate continued over the next few years as a new school board was appointed and the budget was allocated for teacher salaries. It would take three years for the music program to be brought back to Quincy with the appointment of Verna C. Blyth, from Omaha, Neb., in 1903 as music supervisor with a salary of $700. Blyth worked with students during the school year on music education, culminating with a school performance featuring students from all grades. The audience was pleased with the progress of the students and remarked that the younger grades sang especially well.

On Jun 18, 1904, Blyth was again appointed as music supervisor, this time with a salary of $900. This would be her last year as a teacher in Quincy. She resigned July 6, 1904, to accept a job teaching music in Los Angeles, for a salary of $1,400.

After much deliberation, the board offered Elizabeth (Mary) Pratt of Chicago the job of music supervisor on Aug. 3, 1905, for a salary of $850. In 1909 and 1910, Pratt is listed as music supervisor with a salary of $1,000. She resigned at the end of the school year, and Elizabeth Beckwith, previously a seventh-grade teacher at Madison School, accepted the position of supervisor of music for a salary of $900.

 

Melissa DeVerger is a librarian at Quincy Public Library and a Quincy native with an interest in history.

 

Sources:

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"Appointments by School Board." The Quincy Daily Journal, Aug. 3, 1905, p. 5.

 

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Frances Maud Harding. U.S. Find a Grave Index, 1600s-current. Digital images. http://ancestry.com.

 

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Landrum, Carl. "QHS Band at 1930 National Contest." The Quincy Herald-Whig, Aug. 31, 1969, p. 3C.

 

-----. "Early High School Orchestras." The Quincy Herald-Whig, Nov. 9, 1969, p. 3C.

 

Landrum, Carl and Shirley Landrum. "History of Music in Quincy and Adams County." First Bankers Trust, Quincy, IL, 2010.

 

"Maxwell Demands More Pay." The Quincy Daily Herald, July 5, 1912, p. 5.

 

"Mid Mirth and Song." The Quincy Daily Herald, May 27, 1893, p. 5.

 

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"Miss Suzette S. Decker." The Quincy Daily Journal, Aug. 22, 1912, p. 10.

 

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Paul E. Morrison. U.S. Find a Grave Index, 1600s-current. Digital images. http://ancestry.com.

 

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"Paul Morrison, Pioneer in School Music, is Dead." The Quincy Herald-Whig, April 19, 1963, p. 18.

 

"Pinafore Given by Q.H.S. Juniors." The Quincy Daily Journal, April 21, 1917, p. 3.

 

"Philip C. Hayden, Former Quincyan, Dies in Keokuk." The Quincy Daily Journal, May 15, 1925, p. 3.

 

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"The Public School Teachers are Chosen." The Quincy Daily Journal, May 22, 1909, p. 6.

 

Quincy Senior High School. The 1920 Shadow. 1920. Yearbook, Quincy, IL.

 

-----. The 1921 Shadow. 1920. Yearbook, Quincy, IL.

 

-----. 20th Anniversary Quincy High School Band in Concert. April 25, 1940. Program, Quincy, IL.

 

"Reception at Webster School." The Quincy Daily Journal, Dec. 9, 1905, p. 7.

 

"School Board." The Quincy Daily Herald, Sept. 8, 1910, p. 10.

 

"Special Teachers to Speak at H.S. Meeting." The Quincy Daily Whig, April 23, 1920, p. 9.

 

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"This Magazine is Very Interesting." The Quincy Daily Herald, March 28, 1919, p. 4.

 

"Those Named by the Board of Education." The Quincy Daily Whig, June 18, 1904, p. 8.

 

"Webster Association Will Meet Thursday." The Quincy Daily Whig, Oct. 24, 1917, p. 5.

 

"Who Is To Be Principal?" The Quincy Daily Journal, May 29, 1912, p. 5.