Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Degree Name

DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Heidel, Richard Mark

First Committee Member

Kastens, Kevin

Second Committee Member

Getz, Christine

Third Committee Member

Jones, William LaRue

Fourth Committee Member

Arndt, Matthew


This thesis provides a historical account of the career of Miles “Mity” Johnson. Johnson taught music for thirty-seven years at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. During those years, he led the St. Olaf Band to national and international prominence. Johnson’s professional influences traverse his work as a collegiate band director, and horn recitalist and teacher, as well as his contributions to professional development for conductors and the adult community band movement.

This research draws heavily on archival materials from the Shaw-Olson Center for College History at St. Olaf College along with several personal collections, including Johnson’s own private collection. Oral interviews with family members, colleagues, and former students supplemented archival materials.

Johnson’s career spanned the second half of the twentieth century, a period that witnessed important growth in repertoire, professional development, and other areas in the concert band field, and this thesis highlights his reactions and contributions to those changes. Chapters explore Johnson’s family, education, and military background; followed by details of his public school and St. Olaf College teaching career. Examining the areas of domestic and international touring, concert programming, and horn teaching during Johnson’s tenure at St. Olaf reveals significant contributions to the band field. Also included are Johnson’s numerous guest conducting engagements at All-State band performances and the Vestfold Summer music camp in Norway. Research on Johnson’s establishment of the Minnesota Instrumental Conducting Symposium (MICS) and the Minnesota Symphonic Winds (MSW) adult community band, give further insight into Johnson’s broader contributions to the wind band profession.


band, community band, conducting, conducting symposium, Miles Mity Johnson, St. Olaf


ix, 191 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 176-191).


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Copyright © 2017 Matthew David Wanken

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