The Music Department “taken up in earnest”

Press reports from all over the state were very favorable,
heralding the Centenary concerts as the most accomplished
performances that had been witnessed in their locality,
by any college organizations.
(1928 Yoncopin, Centenary College of Louisiana.)

george sexton

In the 1920s, under the presidency of Dr. George S. Sexton, the College erected many new structures, including a wood-frame building on the South corner of campus (near the present-day site of Smith Building) that would soon become home to the Department of Music. Finally, in 1923, “…Music, as a Department, was taken up in earnest and a very talented young lady, Miss Catherine McComb, undertook the task of putting over a real program for the year…”24 Miss McComb, the Director of Music, led a Glee Club for male students as well as a choral ensemble for women. While Centenary was still a few years away from awarding an actual degree in music, the departmental offerings served as electives and, by 1924, could be counted toward a Certificate in Music. 25

Looking back on the Music Department’s early years in Shreveport, the 1935 Yoncopin proclaimed, “The value of group playing in securing facility, development of sound musicianship and keen sense of rhythm, have long been recognized by Centenary College.”26 Indeed, ensembles abounded, and among the best known was the Centenary Band whose morale-boosting music won the hearts of the football team and fans.

At every game the band was there and sounded off, filing the air with music and making each heart light. Those were the great old days, when the spirited playing of the band announced that Centenary had made another touchdown. The band soon became an auxiliary to the team, for on several trips the band went along to show the foreigners we were all behind the team.27

old music building

Many ensembles fulfilled not only an artistic and educational purpose but also served as excellent means of publicity for the College. In the 1924 Yoncopin, the Glee Club is hailed as “one of the College’s best advertising mediums”28 and the 1926 Yoncopin maintains that the band “has successfully convinced many people that Centenary is a school where things are accomplished in great style.”29

Though the triumphant days of a Centenary’s football team and marching band are now a thing of the past, any Centenary student dedicated to the study of music has shared one common experience: a unique appreciation of the oft-dreaded concept of “practice.” Indeed, many a music student has gained insight into (and perhaps a certain doubt of) the school’s motto Labor Omnia Vincit (Work Conquers All). The practice requirements in the 1928-29 catalogue are a reminder of a more regimented—and supervised—practice system.

Practice rooms with pianos are available at the Music Hall, and except when special permission is granted, students are required to practice in these rooms under the direction of the Practice Supervisor.
Regular hours are assigned students, and they are required to report to the Supervisor at the beginning and end of each practice period.
Where practice is carried out at the home of the student, a weekly report, showing hours of practice, must be attested by the parent or guardian of the student. Forms for this purpose are furnished by the Practice Supervisor.