THE APPENDICES TO THIS THESIS ARE NOT AVAILABLE An intrinsic component of South Africa's cultural and colonial heritage resides in the country's deep-rooted tradition of professional musical units known as "service bands": military or concert bands which are an adjunct to the various arms of service of the national defence force and police services. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the demographics of these bands are as varied as those of the country itself. Yet there is a common factor shared by all service bands, whatever their sociological composition: the need to perform at what is perceived to be a professional musical level in the public eye (and ear). This requires a relatively consistent level of instrumental competency from band members, and to this end a number of evaluation systems have been implemented – and supplanted – since the late 1940s. The purpose of these evaluations is not only an endeavour to maintain acceptable standards of musical performance, but to conveniently categorise band members into four fundamental levels of instrumental proficiency for purposes of salary and, to a lesser degree, rank. Without exception, the previous systems of evaluation were deficient in one aspect or another. More specifically, they were found in the last decade to be lacking both in terms of musical consistency and, since 1994, in the ability to equitably accommodate members of the former "homelands" bands, whose previous training and experience were in the majority of cases confined to the rote learning of band parts, with an almost total lack of formal music training. In a manner that aims to be at once discursive and narrative, this thesis describes the quest for and the realisation of an equitable process of musical evaluation for South African service band members. It documents the actions taken to address the challenges inherent in that quest, the empirical research that provided a tenable answer, and describes the essentially practical stance adopted by the participating musicians and compilers. The processes leading to the new evaluation syllabus are described in some detail, and a number of specific and practical recommendations are proposed for the further amelioration of South African service bands' modus operandi.