History of the Montana Bandmasters Association

The Montana Bandmasters Association was formed by directors who wanted more from the sessions at the Montana Music Education Association conventions.  In the early years, the focus of each MMEA convention rotated yearly between choir, band, general music and orchestra.  Directors who taught only band were frustrated with this structure, having only one convention every four years that dealt with band.

The first meeting for the MBA was held at the Florence Hotel in Missoula during the fall convention of the MMEA in 1960.  According to Cliff Carlson of Havre, directors in attendance included himself, James Eversol (UM), Stan Richards (Billings), Eddy Hamper (Anaconda), Jim Tibbs (Missoula Schools), Roy Lyman (MSLA Elem,), Roger Heath (Great Falls), Rolf Johnson (Bozeman), Fred Nelson (Libby), Ed Sedivey (Bozeman), mike Roberty (Malta) and others.

Jay Burcheck describes his enthusiasm about the formation of the MBA in an article in the January Cadenza (1961 pg. 11).  He outlines the following philosophical goals of the organization:

  1. To promote and develop interest in band music, and in the general improvements of our bands in Montana
  2. To strengthen the professional standing of the band directors in Montana.
  3. To promote the cardinal principals of education, health, command of fundamental processes, worthy home membership, vocation, citizenship, worthy use of leisure time and ethical character.

The article goes on to talk about these areas of concern:

  1. Improvement of the MHSA District Music Festivals
  2. Promote Municipal Bands to provide adult opportunities
  3. Yearly clinics throughout the state in addition to the MMEA
  4. Promote sight reading at all festivals
  5. Engaging in program exchanges
  6. Use of three adjudicators for each band

In the beginning there were about 15 members.  There was a real concern about creating splinter music groups, and many band directors were still very loyal to the MMEA. This problem was solved when the MBA and the other state music groups were accepted as part of the MMEA structure in 1968.  Each of the four areas (Band, Choir, General music, Orchestra) were given a seat on the MMEA Board and given control of arranging their respective sessions for each convention.

Dues were set at $5.00 a year to be used for operating expenses, programs exchanges, state clinics and ad space in the Cadenza. Early projects included reading session of the newly published music, usually held in several areas of the state, and helping provide a smooth transition from the high school to the college band experience.  Since then the MBA has had several projects to include providing financial support to summer band clinics hosted at the Universities.

In 1986, the MBA established a scholarship to encourage students to become band directors. The scholarship was established by Allen Slater using business sponsorships to fund the scholarship. Shawn Thacker was awarded the first MBA scholarship and has since become a respected band director in Montana.

In 2005 The MBA realized a long standing dream with the MBA Rendezvous held at Camp Paxton outside of Seeley Lake.  This summer band clinic, organized by Bob Greene has been an annual affair providing great clinic along with wonderful socializing.  Held each year in June it serves about 30 to 40 directors. Since it’s inception financial assistance has been offered to younger directors to attend and has fulfilled the need for furthering bands in Montana.

Since the beginning, band directors from all over the state have donated time and effort to further the cause of bands in Montana.  Because of their efforts, band continues to be important in our state.  Directors who have served as leaders for the Montana Bandmasters:


Year President Treasurer
1960 James Eversol
1962 Ed Sedivey
1964 Roger Heath Blance Kangas
1966-67 Mike Roberty Blance Kangas
1968-69 Fred Nelson Norm Brunken
1970-71 Howard Hunke Marv Koch
1972-73 Gordan Wickham Carl Smart
1974-75 Bill Larson Dennis Dell
1976-77 Dale Hallock Mary Heismann
1978-79 Rich Erickson Scott Southwick
1980-81 Carl Smart Lenard Ostwalt
1982-83 Dennis Granlie Larry Rowton
1984-85 Tom Cook Steve White
1986-87 Allan Eve Janet Sallgren
1988-89 Ron Coons Scott McKenzie
1990-91 Allen Slater John Laing
1992-93 Robert Mazurek Chris Rost
1994-95 Scott McKenzie Brad Abbot
1996-97 Erik Engebretson Nancy Murdock
1998-99 Gary Gillett Shawn Thacker
2000-01 Steve Bolstead Kyle Prescot
2002 Russ Newberry John Nelson

(Both accepted jobs out of state for 02-03 school year)

2002-05 Dusty Molneaux Hal Hugg
2006-07 John Combs Scott McKenzie
2008-09 Laurie Hickman Salee Nelson
2010-11 Steve Patton Aaron Schendel
2012-13 Jeff Skogley Russ Kellogg??
2014-15 James Smart Matt Tipton
2016-17 Russ Kellogg Jeff Mcbirney
2018-19 Alicia Liscomb Jeremy Ruff
2020-21 Mark McCrady Randi Tunnell