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Director marches out on high note

Brittany Schock / Asst. Photo editor

Jon Woods has been committing himself to his students, music and a tradition of excellence in the Ohio State University Marching Band since 1974. Woods’ retirement in June 2012 will bring an end to his era as director of the band.

Woods, the marching band director since 1984 and assistant director since 1974, is also a full professor in the School of Music.

Woods received degrees from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University and the University of Michigan.

“I was pretty objective about bands, and I’ll never forget my first Ohio State-Michigan game was at Michigan then, and I’m sitting there and that’s when I first saw the Ohio State band, and I said to the person I was with ‘Now there’s a band,'” said Woods, who was working toward his Ph.D. at Michigan at the time.

Woods said he liked the OSU band since the day he saw them and never dreamed he’d be offered a job at OSU at the end of that year.

“I can remember coming, getting out of the car my first day of work in the summertime and my knee started to shake a little bit. I said, ‘Boy, this is going to be a challenge, this is as big as it gets,'” Woods said.

“If you love marching band and football there’s no place like Columbus, Ohio, and Ohio State University. I mean this is it, and it’s been wonderful to be part of a great tradition here at Ohio State,” Woods said.

Woods worked to bring the tradition of excellence to the

marching band.

“People ask me what is the greatest tradition of the band. Is it the Script Ohio or is it the ramp entrance? Is it Hang On Sloopy? … I’ve thought a lot about that, and although all those things I just mentioned are very important to the band and to our fans, I think the greatest tradition is the tradition of excellence,” Woods said.

Jason Stuckert, a third-year in marketing and the marching band’s drum major, said he also believes the band’s best tradition is the tradition of excellence.

Stuckert said before joining the band he would have said Script Ohio or the ramp entrance was the best tradition, but thinks Woods’ commitment to excellence is his biggest contribution to the band.

Mike Maley, a sixth-year in integrated social studies and a fifth-year band member, said Woods made him a better musician and a

harder worker.

“That’s probably one of the most exciting things about my job is watching the students succeed and let them know, you have succeeded because of the hard work, … the tradition of excellence,” Woods said.

Patricia Flowers, a professor of music education, met Woods when she started working at OSU in 1985.

“Every year he tells me it’s the best band we’ve ever had,” Flowers said in an email.

Woods said the growing number of auditions makes the quality of the members better and helps the band to improve.

Stuckert said people are very serious and respectful around Woods, but that Woods likes to keep the band happy and positive and cracks jokes with the band.

“He’s actually a really funny guy, he’s a really sharp, funny guy,” Stuckert said.

Stuckert said he talks to Woods a couple times a week about many things beyond band.

“He wants to talk to you personally,” Maley said. “He always looked out for us, he’s like a father figure.”

Woods has unflagging support publicly and privately for his students, Flowers said in an email.

“The main thing is the students. Music is an important thing, but it’s the students that make the job,” Woods said.

Woods said he’ll miss the students most.

“They’re just great people to have around,” he said.

Woods’ work has won him many awards.

“If you go in his office … it’s just stuff all over, stuff in the corners. I’m seeing like these awards and things that are just stacked up in the corner and I’m just like, get a bigger office so you can put this stuff up, because he’s been recognized for so many things,” Stuckert said.

Woods said he counts among his accomplishments taking the band to several presidential inauguration parades, starting the first national marching and athletic band symposium and his input in helping establish the Joan Zieg Steinbrenner Band Center. He took the band to 35 bowl games during his time at OSU.

“I was the luckiest man alive to be hired in 1974 and to end up at The Ohio State University, … I’ve had a wonderful experience as a professor and the marching band director here at Ohio State and it will undoubtedly be an important part of my life forever,” Woods said.

“It’s been an all-consuming job, which I’ve loved every minute of it, I don’t mean that in a negative way at all – in fact a very positive way, you become immersed in it,” Woods said. “When the kids come down that ramp every week, I get thrilled just like they do.”

Woods said he is retiring this year partly because of talk of significant change to state teacher’s retirements from the economy, and because he would like to travel more.

Woods said after he retires he plans to travel, be more active with the alumni band and become more involved in playing jazz trombone.


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