Music was always an important part of student life. One example was Lincolnia C. Haynes, Ballard Class of 1888, who attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and became a member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
Students performed at fundraisers for the school and other community service projects. They would sing in the Ballard School Auditorium, churches, and placess such as the Douglass Theatre. The Douglass Theatre was opened by Charles Henry Douglass in 1921. In a time, when segregation was the rule, it was the main venue for music and entertainment. African American performers who crossed the stage included Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Joseph Douglass grandson of Frederick Douglass. Movies produced by Oscar Micheaux and the Colored Players Film Cooperation could be viewed. The students from Ballard performed there many times and are mentioned in the document below.
Like Lincolnia Hayes, almost 40 years previous, Aquilla Jones returned to her alma mater to teach music to beginners, intermediate, and advanced students. Ms. Jones had attended Spellman College in Atlanta, Georgia and studied music under the famous Kemper Harreld. Her focus would be on piano, chorus, and the glee club, beginners' violin, music history and appreciation, elementary theory, and harmony.
Participation in musical opportunities at the school were encouraged. Students had many choices for performing muscially and were awarded a varsity letter in Music. The school had always had a choir, but under Ms. Jones the musical opportunities expanded to include a school orchestra, mixed chorus, female glee club and an octet. The semi-chorus was renamed the Kemper Harreld Music Club.
In 1937, the defining movement for Ballard's music department was the signing of a contract to perform a weekly broadcast for WMAZ local radio station. The broadcasts were presented every Wednesday evening at 7:30 o'clock.
By 1940, a National Youth Administration Band was formed at Ballard led by Professor Melvin Sikes, the director. The senior members included Anne Bernice Singleton saxophone, Francis Davies saxophone, Wesley Jackson trumpet, Josephine Walker snare drum, Fannie Lockett snare drum, and Ulysses Mathis clarinet.