18:00 PM

Ohio State University Marching Band director announces retirement

After 25 years of directing The Ohio State University Marching Band, Jon Woods has announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2011-12 academic year. President E. Gordon Gee announced Woods’ decision during the band’s pre-game skull session today.

Steeped in tradition, The Ohio State University Marching Band (OSUMB) is one of the few all-brass and percussion university marching bands in the country and one of the largest of its type in the world. Woods’ announcement comes as the band celebrates the 75th anniversary of its trademark “Script Ohio,” considered by many to be the most memorable tradition in college band history.

“For a quarter of a century, Jon Woods has always struck precisely the right note as director of The Ohio State University Marching Band,” said President E. Gordon Gee.

“Whether teaching students, leading a memorable halftime show, or assembling alumni from across the globe, Jon has earned a reputation of eminence. Indeed, our Marching Band remains The Best Damn Band In The Land largely because Jon has steadily built on tradition, striving for innovation and perfection. Jon’s legacy, like Script Ohio itself, is simply incomparable. We are grateful for his unflagging leadership and countless contributions.”

Woods, 72, has served as full-time director longer than anyone else. During his tenure, hundreds of thousands have watched and cheered as Woods led the band in innumerable football pre-game and halftime programs as well as countless concerts. Notably, he has taken the band to Washington four times to march in presidential inaugural parades.

He is an expert on marching band techniques and show design, and is often called to judge band competitions around the country. In 2010, Woods was awarded one of the most prestigious honors in collegiate music - the College Band Directors Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

One of Woods’ first actions as director was to begin charting formations by computer, making Ohio State one of the first bands in the country to use such technology in the early 1980s. The band was awarded the esteemed Sudler Trophy as the outstanding college band in the country. In 1988, USA Today saluted the band with a feature multi-page article highlighting the band's many fine traditions and continued innovation.

The instrumentation of the OSUMB has been modified twice during Woods’ tenure. In the mid-1990s, he searched the globe for a new E-flat alto horn, but few manufacturers produced it and no models could be found that were suitable for the band. So in 1996, both rows of E-flat alto horns were replaced with F Horns (also known as 'mellophones'), which are more widely available and have a much brighter sound. In 1999, he added several bass trombones to augment the low-brass sounds of the band.

In addition to his duties with the band, which include principal field conductor, show coordinator, and administrator, Woods also serves as administrative coordinator and conductor of all athletic bands, which provide music and support for various campus sporting events. He is also professor of music education in the School of Music, where he teaches and advises graduate students, and supervises student teachers.

Woods received his bachelor’s degree from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, his master’s degree from Penn State University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Planning is underway to honor Woods in his remaining year as Ohio State’s band director. Assistant band director Jonathan Waters will become interim director in 2012-13. Waters, a former band member, has served as assistant director since 2002.