Earl Dunn

Director of Bands, Emeritus


School of Music
Hargreaves Music Building (MU) 203
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306

Earl Dunn

Director of Bands, Emeritus

Earl Dunn, conductor, music educator and administrator, received his academic and musical education at the University of Northern Iowa. During the period in which he completed his graduate work, Dunn served as director of the Marching Band and assistant director of the Concert Bands at Northern Iowa. Prior to this time he taught in the public schools of Iowa, served as a member of the trumpet section of the Waterloo, Iowa, Civic Symphony, and during the mid-1950s was co-owner and band instrument department manager of Russell-Goodwin Music Company.

Dunn was Director of Bands at Ball State University from 1957 to 1969, and during that period guided the re-organization and development of the bands in all facets of wind performance until they reached regional and national recognition as “the Pride of Mid-America."

During the Ball State years, Dunn was State Chairman of the Indiana College Band Directors; a member of the Indiana Bandmasters Association, the Indiana Music Educators, and advisory member of Leblanc Musical Instrument Company’s Educational Board. He was also active in national music honoraries – Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Pi Kappa Lambda, and Phi Beta Mu – and served as chairman of the CBDNA North Central Division’s Publicity Committee.

In 1967 Dunn received the “Campus Headliner Award” given annually by the Ball State University Department of Journalism to faculty members recognized for their outstanding service to the University. He also received a "Citation of Excellence” award from the President of Ball State University in May, 1969.

The Ball State University Wind Ensemble, known for its musical excellence in the performance of contemporary literature, recorded educational records for the Studio Publications/Recording Company. The Wind Ensemble was also featured at the 1968 North Central Division Conference of the College Band Directors National Association.

The 190-piece Ball State University Marching Band received national acclaim and recognition for a series of outstanding performances: (1) the 1965 Presidential Inaugural Parade; (2) the 1965 and 1967 performances at the Grantland Rice Bowl; (3) the 1966 Chicago Bears/Los Angeles Rams nationally-televised professional football game; (4) the nationally-televised 1967 Western Conference Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Rams; (5) the 1968 regionally-televised Chicago Bears/Minnesota Vikings NFL game; and (6) the nationally-televised Dallas Cowboys/Cleveland Browns Eastern Conference Championship game in 1968.

In January, 1969, Dunn was selected as director of the “Million Dollar Marching Band” at the University of Alabama. In his first year at the University, the “Million Dollar Band” was recognized by the ABC Television Network as presenting one of the finest televised halftime shows of the 1969 season. This occurred at the Liberty Bowl. During his second year at ‘Bama, the “Million Dollar Band” received honorable mention in Chevrolet’s search for the nation’s most outstanding collegiate marching band.

The “Million Dollar Marching Band” performed in the fall of 1969 for 650,000 football fans, and it was witnessed by approximately 30 million viewers on national television; in the fall of 1970 the band performed before 700,000 football fans and for approximately 20 million on both regional and national TV networks.

During Dunn’s tenure at Alabama he developed an enhanced concert band program with great emphasis on the performance of 20th century music by a newly-organized University Wind Ensemble. He also planned the state’s first Inter-collegiate Band, an event that was the first joint musical project in the state involving students from both the traditional black and white universities.


Dunn was recognized by the National Band Association in the fall of 1969 as recipient of the coveted “Citation of Excellence” Award. It was presented to him at the Alabama Music Educators Association All State Festival Concert on March 11, 1970.


In January, 1971, he was selected and initiated as an honorary life member in Kappa Kappa Psi, the National Honorary Fraternity for College Bandsmen. Dunn was recognized by the Grand Council for his work with college and university bands, and for his contributions and accomplishments in his chosen profession. In 2003 he was presented the fraternity’s Silver Baton Award.


Dunn served from 1974-1976 as President of the National Band Association, the world’s largest band organization. NBA is devoted to serving as a national voice for bands and works toward the continuing advancement of bands and the band’s repertoire. During his presidency, NBA developed the 100-piece National Honors Band consisting of students from each state (first performance was presented at MENC’s National Conference in Atlantic City), established the basic structure for the NBA/Demoulin Composition Award, and personally guided the development and program for NBA’s first National Convention, a conference dealing with the “Attainment of Excellence in the Total Band Program.” Dunn assumed the editorship of the NBA Journal in 1978 and continued in that role until 2005.

In addition to his university and state/national association duties, Dunn has served as an adjudicator in the countries of England and Canada, and in Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, New York, Florida, North Dakota, North Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama and Ohio music contests, and as a guest conductor and lecturer/clinician for more than 400 festivals and clinics throughout the United States.


In October, 1977, Dunn met with officials from the Irish Tourist Bureau and subsequently served as a consultant in planning the City of Dublin’s first International Festival of Music. Dunn served for many years on the Board of Advisors for “The Instrumentalist” and “The Music Maestro, Please” Music Festivals.


In 1981 Dunn became Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Indiana Music Educators Association, a position he held until retirement on June 30, 1991. During the ten years he served in the position, IMEA grew into one of the nation’s most viable state music associations with an expanded program of services to members and students and a full-time office staff. In 1990 IMEA honored Dunn as the “Hoosier Musician of the Year.”


During the 1983-84 calendar year Dunn served as Acting Director of the Ball State University School of Music. Prior to this time Dunn’s professional assignment was Associate Director of the School, and his portfolio of responsibilities included coordinating recruitment activities, special events, public relations, budget and purchasing, advertising, and management of facilities and equipment. He was coordinator for Mid-America Music Camp, which he founded in 1958, and which evolved into six weeks of specialized clinics for study and performance by students interested in band, orchestra, choir, jazz, percussion, show/swing choir and small ensembles. He was also advisor of the student Executive Council of Music Organizations (ECMO), supervisor of scholarship committees and chairman of the ensemble performance committee.


Personal and civic involvements have included serving as president of the American Bullmastiff Association, the Muncie Kennel Club, the Indianapolis Hoosier Kennel Club, Coordinator of the Indiana Band Tournament, and member of the Mount Pleasant Community School’s Board of Education on which he served a term as president.


Dunn and his wife, Liz, showed Bullmastiffs throughout the United States, Bermuda and Canada for many years. They are the only owner/handlers to have received the American Kennel Club’s All Breed Best in Show award on four different dogs, including the first in the history of the breed in the United States. Dunn is approved by the American Kennel Club to judge Bullmastiffs, and he has been privileged to judge the National Specialty for the Southern Bullmastiff Association of England and the Midwest Specialty for the Midwest Bullmastiff Association of the United States.


In 1980, Phi Beta Mu, a national honorary band fraternity, presented the “Outstanding Bandmaster Award” to Dunn, and in October, 1987, he was elected to the fraternity’s prestigious “Hall of Fame.”


The Ball State University School of Music Alumni Association recognized and honored Dunn in April, 1985, for his outstanding contributions to the National Band Association, the Indiana Music Educators Association and the Ball State School of Music as a conductor, educator, editor, clinician and administrator.

In May, 1985, Dunn became an emeritus professor of music education. Following retirement, he served until 1991 as Executive Director of the Indiana Music Educators Association. He continues to adjudicate band festivals throughout the United States, and functioned as editor of the NBA Journal for the National Band Association for many years. He has also served on the Board of Trustees of the Morris Animal Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing a “healthier tomorrow for all animals.”

Dunn and his wife were avid golfers, and for many years spent three to six months a year in Florida, and actively campaigned their favorite breed of dogs, the Bullmastiff, throughout the United States.


In the fall of 1996 an anonymous donor organized, through the Ball State University Foundation, the Earl Dunn Senior Band Scholarship for two senior students whose career goals are to become school band directors. The recipients are announced during one of the Marching Band’s Pre-Game Shows.


In 2004, at the December National Band Association National Meeting in Chicago, Dunn was presented the AWAPA Award, an honor awarded to those who have made truly significant and outstanding contributions to the furthering of the excellence of bands and of band music. The nine-inch silver AWAPA figure, the “Oscar” of the band world, was presented by Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, one of Dunn’s nationally-recognized former students.


Of all the professional and personal relationships in which the Dunns have been involved, they most highly treasure the memories of their involvements with Bob and Katie Hargreaves. Robert Hargreaves, the founder of the Muncie Symphony Orchestra, and a past president of the National Association of Schools of Music, provided dynamic leadership for the Ball State University School of Music and served as a mentor for Dunn.


Dunn, who credits much of his success at Ball State University to Dr. Robert Hargreaves, Dean Lloyd Nelson and President John R. Emens, has always felt Ball State University was a fantastic institution in which to have had a career.