In December of 1921 Mrs. Browne’ Greaton Cole asked the school board for permission to start a boys band at the High School. With the Board’s approval and some donated instruments, Mrs. Cole started the first school band program in Florida with their first official rehearsal in January of 1922. Their debut performance occurred later that Spring.
At first, the school provided very little basic equipment and made few concessions for the scheduling of band classes. Mrs. Cole gave most of the music instruction to band members individually at times between and after the regular class periods. It may be truthfully said that in the early stages, the band was largely supported by Mrs. Cole’s enthusiasm. Rehearsals were kept up during the summer and a concert was given on the public square in downtown Ocala at which $40.00 was raised with which to purchase a small bass horn. There is no record of where a usable bass horn could have been purchased for $40.00, but this was only one of many problems which the school band directors of that time were called upon to solve.
In 1924, the Kiwanis Club of Ocala was founded and one of their first service projects was to raise money for a new bass drum for the OHS Band. This was presented to them at their summer Concert that year. This was the beginning of a four decade partnership between Kiwanis and the OHS Band Program as Kiwanis would be a sponsor and partner with the program through the 1960’s. In 1925, Mrs. Cole composed the concert march entitled Kingdom of the Sun, dedicated to Ocala and Marion County.
In the Summer of 1926, Mrs. Cole was called upon to preside over the state music committee in Tampa, Fl. During that year, the band program was sponsored by Mrs. Leonard, the Choral teacher, but was being run and sustained primarily through the efforts of one of Mrs. Cole’s students, Samuel “Sammy” Savage, who had graduated that year. The parents of the band program approached the city about this situation and were able to convince the City Commissioners to have the city underwrite funding for a full-time band teacher at Ocala High School to entice Mrs. Cole’s return. She did so at the end of that school year and remained until she retired in 1944. Mrs. Cole along, along with a few other Florida directors, organized the first State Music Festival for bands in 1928, in which Ocala High School took second place.
For the remainder of the 1920’s Ocala High was called upon to perform for several meeting is the Florida Music Supervisors as well as the National Music Festival Committee as well as parades all across the state of Florida. They began performing at Football Game toward the end of the decade. Throughout the decade Mrs. Cole continued summer band rehearsals and a performance at the end of each summer. Starting in September each year, the band would give a concert everything Thursday evening in downtown Ocala.
Band Directors: Browne Greaton Cole
Major Events/ Performances:
Permission granted to begin a school band program- December 1921
1st rehearsal- January 1922 (considered the start date of the band program)
1st Concert- Spring Music recital in April of 1922
Partnership with Kiwanis- 1924
1st Thursday Evening Concert Downtown- September 1925
Mrs. Cole composed The Kingdom of the Sun March
Mrs. Cole moved to Tampa- 1926
Mrs. Returns from Tampa- 1927
Performed for the Music Supervisors Committee- 1927
First State Band Festival- 1928