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Vol. 6 No. i (2018): Spring 2018

Playing to Win: American Exceptionalism and Corrupt Band Culture

November 27, 2023


As students faint from the physical exhaustion of marching band and drop to their knees in tears at the sight of audition results, it becomes apparent that artistic expression was never the goal of their musical performances. The goal was to win. This isn’t a rare occurrence, as competition has been the main focus of American music education for as long as many of us can remember. How has the art of music boiled down to generating victory rather than conveying passion and expression? If the emphasis of competition continues to grow, what is to become of American musicians? This research analyzes the historical texts of Benjamin Franklin and Frederick Jackson Turner, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” respectively. Analysis of these texts, in collaboration with scholarly articles, to notes the foundation of competition in America and
addresses current flaws in the American system of music education. America cannot change its past but it can adjust the ways in which its competitive history dictates current methods of music education.