The Chicago Reform School Band: 1862-1872

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Journal of Research in Music Education

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The purpose of this study was to document the history of the band founded at the Chicago Reform School (CRS) circa 1862. Research questions focused on the ensemble's (1) origin and time frame, (2) service to the school and community, (3) instructors, (4) instrumentation, (5) performances, (6) funding, and (7) influence on other school bands. The Chicago Reform School was established in 1855 to provide a home and education for juvenile offenders. In addition to their academic study and vocational training, several students participated in a band that was organized around 1862 and modeled after military bands of the time. By 1866, this ensemble consisted of a fife and drum corps and a brass band that were funded by performances given throughout the city. Alfred D. Langan was the first known director, followed by Thomas P. Westendorf and Hugh Goodwin. Instrumental music continued at the CRS until around 1872, when the institution was closed due to legal issues and the partial destruction of its facilities by the Great Chicago Fire.


This article was published in Journal of Research in Music Education, Volume 55, Issue 3, August 18, 2016,