Additional Historical Events

Elvin Freeman Band Years   1931 - 1951

Freeman, Elvin L. 

Elvin Freeman received his formal education at Prospect High School (located in Prospect, Ohio), spent his freshmen year at Oberlin College and received his bachelor of science degree at Ithace College.  He completed additional academic work at Syracuse University and received a master of music degree from the University of Montreal.  He spent 3 years as a musician with the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, NY and two years with the John Philip Sousa Band touring the United States and Canada.  He also served with the Arthur Pryor Band at Ashbury Park, New Jersey for one year.
He was the director of the Syracuse University Band fromn 1931-1934 and the director of Port Byron School Bands from 1931-1951.  He was President of the New York State School Music Association from 1945-1948 and was a state representative to the Musical Education National Conference and Vice-President of the International Festival of School Musicians in Montreal, Canada.  He was the author of several textbooks for instrumental music and wrote several scores.  His most important work was composing the Port Byron High School Alma Mater. 

May 1936 article:

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Crack Outfit Wins First Place in Class C in State

Contest, Now Enters, National

The Port Byron High School Band, a group of talented young musicians, which has stood high in

scholastic musical circles for several years, will compete for national honors in Class C at Cleveland.

Ohio. The band, totaling 67 musicians, won first place at Endicott. Saturday. Elvln Freeman

directed the Port Byron musicians.

As a Class D organisation, this band started in 1931 to attract favorable attention. The Junior

Band of 37 members will be ready to fill vacancies caused by graduations in June. The band has the

enthusiastic backing of the principal, Arthur Gates, and of the Board of Education, composed of

Irving Warren, Dr. D. Gilbert. The band will be chaperoned to Cleveland by Mrs. Elvin Freeman,
Mr. and Mrs. Gates, Dr. and Mrs. Gilbert and Miss V. Watkins.






23 May 1940 article:

 PORT BYRON. It was a brilliant victory for Port Byron, Port Byron Central School, Port Byron Central School Band and Port Byron Central School Band Director
Freeman. For on Friday last, May 17th, the already famous band and master roundtripped to Albany for the National High School band contest, with schools from all over the country participating and rang up a one rating, the highest possible.

"They never played better," said one observer. And consequently the band received a ONE rating by the national judges, which chalks up a new achievement mark in the remarkable annals of the school.

Only two other schools in New York State received that ONE rating, and it’s one of the greatest honors ever captured by a Cayuga county school.

The Junior-Senior High held an assembly with the band and Mr. Freeman as guests upon their return from Albany. The announcement of the band contests was made by Principal Arthur Gates.  Faculty members who heard the band in Albany were overwhelming in their praise.  Mr. Freeman spoke a few minutes about the band and music

department. He declared, "We have reached one of our objectives.  Another objective now is to broaden the music department."  The director also said that many pupils are in school who could play as well or better than those in the band if they chose to take up an instrument. He extended an invitation to any student who is interested to consider

joining the band.  The Band is scheduled to play at the Onondaga County Music Festival at the Central High School in Syracuse on Saturday evening. They were invited to play on this program because of their outstanding playing ability.

On the two other occasions in national competition Port Byron has received a two rating.



 May 1940 article


Port Byron Band Class C Winner

At Canandaigua 


On To Albany Now For National Contests


Conductor Freeman Lauded


The Port Byron High School Band Saturday again proved itself to he one of the finest musical organizations of its type in the state when it received the highest rating in its group at the Western Zone finals of the New York State School Music Association's competitions held at Canandaigua.  The band, which is conducted by Elvin Freeman of Syracuse, won a rating of 2, and was the only band of the 20 entered in Class C (made up of schools with high school registration of less than 250) to gain such a high standing. In addition to the selections required, the young musicians played the difficult "Marche Slav" of Tschaikovsky, which is usually considered suitable only for Class A or B bands. 

The Port Byron organization, by winning a similarly high rating at the state contest last year, became eligible to enter the national competitions this year, which will be held at Albany May 17 and 18. With bands from Cuba and Shortsville, which, also won eligibility last year, and five bands which became eligible for the national contests at Canandaigua Saturday, Port Byron will be one of the eight organizations in Class C which will represent the 8tate at Albany.


Elvin Freeman, leader of the Port Byron band, was one of the hardest working conductors at the festival Saturday.  Aside from leading the Port Byron group to high honors, he also conducted the Pulaski High School Band, which won the highest honors in Class B. and the band of the Vocational High School. Syracuse, which competed in Class A.

Its high rating received Saturday marked the tenth time that the Port Byron Central School musicians have received the highest honors in state competitions. When they Journey to Albany next month, they will be accompanied by a large group of Port Byron residents who are interested in the work being done at the high school along musical lines.


The Port Byron High School band, which Saturday won the highest honors in Class C band competition at the state school music finals at Canandaigua will give a concert at 8:15 o’clock in the auditorium of Port Byron High School.  The band will be under the leadership of Elvin Freeman, whose work with the young musicians has been largely responsible for their continued success in state contests.

Before the concert by the prize-winning senior hand begins, four other musical groups from Port Byron Central School will be heard in selections.  Thev are the Rhythm Baud of the second grade, the Tonette Class of the fourth grade, the beginner’s band, and the Junior Band.

The program is be presented by the Senior Band will be as follows:  “Men of Iowa March" Van Loren; "The Three Graces Overture" O'Nell Clarinet Ensemble — Junior Lade, Betty Hildebrant, Mary DeBotis, Robert Gates, Mary Lois Brown, Dorotly Carr. 
"Slavonic Rhapsody" Friedman;  Prelude to "Faust" Gounod
Trombone Solo. "Thoughts of Loce" Pryor; Nina Stevens

Brass Sexette, "Memories of Stephen Foster"  Jack Moroney, Donald Ridley, Merl Moore, Arthur Taylor, Tony Reckio.

Baritone Saxophone Solo, Adagio  from "Sonata Pathetique"  Beethoven  Fred Bacon ''Scoutmaster March" Fred Jewel



May 1946 article:


Local Students Rated

In Music Festival

Several local students took part in the Music Festival sponsored by the New York State School Music Association held at the Port Byron Central School last Friday and Saturday.

During the two days approximately 3.000 students from many parts of the state came to Port Byron to participate in the Festival.  Over fifty schools and twelve music studios were represented

The Port Byron Central School Band, under the direction of Mr. Elvin L. Freeman, received a 1 rating. The only other group in this division to be so honored was the Shortsvllle band.  Jane Hiserodt, who played a clarinet solo a 1 minus rating, while Agnes Fabian was given a 2 for her saxophone solo.

The Port Byron baton twlrlers were also given excellent ratings, with Shirley Donaldson receiving a 1, Eleanor Thurston a 1 minus and Margaret Randolph a 2 plus.

There were six Port Byron students who were rated on vocal solos. They were Ruth Rooker and Lorlng Mills, each of whom received a 2: Ann Dwlnelle and Gerald McKown who were each given 2 minus. Shirley Baumgart  who received a 3 plus, and Shlrley Reed, who was given a 3. 

It was necessary for many of the students and teachers from some distance away to stay over from Friday to participate in the contests on Saturday. The school wishes to express its appreciation for the hospitality shown on the part of the towns-people in acting as hosts to these out-of-town guests. Mr. and Mrs. Earl Blake, Rev. and Mrs. Donald MacKensie, Mr and Mrs. Arthur Carr, Mr. and Mrs. Loren Ten Eyek, Mrs.Maude Warren and Mrs. Grace White opened their homes for the accomodation of those who found it necessary to stay Friday night.

Traveling 'Music Man' Organized Local Bands   (1975 article)

Just like in the famous musical 'The Music Man," there really were people who went from town to town; organizing bands in the first half of the century, and Marcellus and Skaneateles were just two of the places visited by one bandmaster who spent many years working in Upstate New York.
An article in the March-April issue of NRTA (National Retired Teachers Assn.) Journal tells of Elvin "Jake" Freeman and his days as a traveling bandmaster. A photo of the Skaneateles School Band and Mr. Freeman accompanies the story.'
When Mr. Freeman began teaching instrumental music, his weekly schedule was a hectic one considering he did not use a car for transportation.  Starting from Syracuse, where he lived, Jake taught on Monday morning in Seneca Fails - traveling by train from Auburn; Tuesday he was in Clyde, which be reached by trolley; Wednesday he taught at Port Byron and Savannah; Thursday (by trolly) to Marcellus, and Friday at Soivay.
He conducted his first bands in 1927 and describes what it was like to be a traveling musical instrument instructor as follows: "We moved from town to town with our rented instruments and made sales talk and promotional efforts that were somewhat pressured at times.  Our intention was sincere, honest, and productive of musical results."  When he arrived at a community, the arrangements were that after 12 weeks of instruction one day a week, a concert would be performed by the aspiring musicians. The article reports that the concerts were produced in 12 weeks and that for many communities, it was the first time that instrumental music had been offered.
Music in public schools was heavily slanted toward vocal when Mr. Freeman began his career as a traveling bandmaster.
He also played  several seasons with the Sousa Band.  In 1930, Mr. Freeman enrolled at Syracuse University to take the education courses needed for certification.  He was asked to lead the university band, which led to many years of teaching new bands, including groups at Skaneateles, Elbridge and Jordan. One year the Skaneateles band placed second in the state finals.
Mr. Freeman continued to teach in the state until 1956.  He has since moved west and continues to give a few private lessons.  
*story didn't mention that he also taught at Pulaski and the Syracuse Vocational High School and most of the band awards were gained at Port Byron

PBCS Retirement:  14 Jun 1951 Article:

E. L. Freeman, Band Leader, Feted by P-TA

Will Terminate 20 Years of Teaching At PBCS This Month

A large group of friends, former students, faculty and board of education members gathered at a Port Byron P-TA reception Sunday afternoon to honor Eivin L. Freeman, s c h o ol instrumental music teacher, whose resignation after 20 years of teaching at Port Byron Central school takes effect at the end of the school year.   Freeman, who directed the band in its concert following the reception, was presented a briefcase by the junior and senior bands and a matching two-suiter suitcase by the P-TA.
PBCS teachers with
service of 20 years or more were presented corsages.   Freeman announced that Barbara Jean Van Ditto, Helen Marshall, .Norma Horr and Martha Ball have been selected to receive scholarships to the state music camp at Otter lake this summer.  While the Misses Van Ditto and Marshall placed first and second, respectively, the Misses Horr and Ball were named as alternates.  The students, who will attend the camp because of funds collected for the state music scholarship fund at the school, were selected on the basis of auditions conducted by Harold Henderson, Auburn public school music director.  Freeman's choices and by faculty citizenship ratings.  Selections played by the band during its concert, held in the school auditorium, included solos and group numbers played at the recent state festival at Mohawk, where high ratings were achieved.  Solo instrumentalists were Helen Marshall, Norma Horr and Barbara Jean Van Ditto. 
Freeman, who will teach at the Pulaski and Altmar-Parish schools next year,  is president of the New York State School Music association, and is widely known in school music circles around the state.


Obituary:  Elvin L. Freeman, 81, of Hemet, Calif., died Tuesday, May 10, 1983 in California.
Mr. Freeman, a native.of Burdette, W.Va., was band director at Skaneateles High School in the 1930s. Surviving are his wife, Muriel Freemen of Hemet; two sons, John Freeman of ManhattanBeach, CaIif., and David Freeman of Torrance, Calif.; a brother, Carl Freeman of Galic, Ohio; a sister, Frances Hille of Leeesburg, Fla. and four grandchildren.  Services were held at First Presbyterian Church, Hemet, the Rev. Dr. Donald Liden officiated. Burial was in Crestlawrn Memorial Park, Riverside, Calif.  Memorial donations may be made to the First Presbyterian Church choir scholarship fund