• The life and leadership of William P. Foster: the maestro and the legend

      Walker, Richard L., Jr.
      The purpose of this study was to examine the life and leadership of William P. Foster. As an acclaimed African American band director, the history of Foster was considered a parable rather than a leader who had made important contributions to the progression of band theory, practice, and performance both nationally and abroad. This misconception is an omission within the histor y of ethnomusicology, music education, music literature, band philosophy , as well as higher education leadership. Focusing on his 52 - year tenure at Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University as director of bands as well as over 45 years as the music de partment chair allowed for a better understanding of what inspired Foster’s concepts for band leadership and development in higher education. Utilizing a qualitative case study approach, this study examined the life of Foster through the unique stories o f seven purposefully selected African American band directors with at least 25 years’ experience and direct access to Foster. Participants selected were former students of Foster and music education alumni of Florida A&M University. This provided a deepe r understanding of how the participants utilized Foster’s techniques, leadership, and teachings. An analysis of the study participants’ experiences yielded five emergent themes: highest quality character, excellence in leadership, great communicator, respe ct, and outstanding musicianship. This study used the servant leadership model, specifically the seven pillars of servant leadership, to examine Foster’s band and academic leadership experiences. The findings of this study serve as a dependable source abo ut how Foster swayed audiences to remain in the stands during halftime performances. Concomitantly, reflections of the participants in this study give credence to Foster’s ability to transform collegiate band s administratively, ethically, technically, and culturally. Moreover, the research describes Foster’s impetus to change the band ’ s marching style and appearance during a time of segregation. These findings may also be used to inspire future leaders in higher education who aspire to focus on the devel opmental needs of their constituents.