Simon Kooyman, a Dutch immigrant, became band director of the Clarksdale, Mississippi High School Band in 1926. Through his indefatigable energy and superb musicianship, he developed the band that came to be known as the “Pioneer Band” in Mississippi.
Born in Oude Niedorp, Holland, Kooyman was educated in the Velsen Normal Scholl and the Beverwyk School of Music. He married Johanna Elizabeth Tabẽrnal in St. George, Malany States in 1909. An excellent pianist and violinist, Kooyman was also a skilled conductor, as well as an off-set lithographer and photographer. He initiated the organization of the first Mississippi Band and Orchestra Director’s Association along with the development of the first Mississippi State Band Contest in 1928.
His CHS Band was ranked “first place” for six consecutive years, beginning that year. Kooyman was inducted into the membership of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association in 1931 with what has been described as the highest grade made on the entrance examination. Utilizing his combined skills, he composed numerous pieces for band and printed them himself, dedicationg them to his friends, “Frau” Kooyman, and their son, Tony.
Kooyman served as the District VII National Orchestra Chairman o the Mississippi State Department of Education Examining Board, which issued licenses to music teachers. In 1964, the Mississippi Legislature passed Concurrent Resolution No. 95 paying “tribute” to Simon Kooyman in recognition of his outstanding contribution and services to the citizens of Clarksdale, Mississippi, and to the development of high school bands in the state of Mississippi.
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