Assistant Directors

Assistant Directors

Directors | Assistant Directors | Uniforms | Origins | Falcone Era | Begian & Bloomquist Years | Modern Era

History • Assistant Directors of the Spartan Marching Band

Researched and Written by Jacob McCormick

Introduction

Starting with the band’s establishment around 1870 and spanning through 1907, the Agricultural College Band was under the leadership of students. From 1907 through 1919, the band director was a general position within the College. The creation of the Department of Music in 1919 created the director of bands position. From 1919 through 1977, the director of bands was also the director of the Spartan Marching Band. From the era of assistant director Oscar Stover, beginning in 1953, through the Department of Music’s reorganization in 1977, the director of bands acted more so as an overseer of the band, leaving the day-to-day operation of the Spartan Marching Band in the hands of an assistant director of bands.

Since 1977, the directorship of the Spartan Marching Band has been assigned to a specialist holding the title associate director of bands. The assistant director of bands also acts as the associate director of the Spartan Marching Band. For more information and history on the directors of the Spartan Marching Band please visit the Directors history page.

SMB Assistant Directors

Name Years
Don Jackson 1946-1953
Oscar Stover 1953-1960
William Moffit 1960-1969
Joseph Parker 1969-1970
David Catron 1970-1974
A. Thad Hegerberg 1974-1977
P. Carl Chevallard 1977-1978
William Wiedrich 1982-1988
Isaiah Odajima 2005-2008
Cormac Cannon 2008-2015
David Thornton 2015-2017
Arris Golden 2018-Present

 

Don Jackson

Assistant Director, 1946-1953

James Donovan Jackson was born in Iowa in 1918. He graduated from Mitchell High School in South Dakota in 1935. Jackson earned a bachelor’s degree from Dakota Wesleyan College (1939), after which he taught public school instrumental music.

During World War II, 1940-1945, Jackson served in the U.S. Navy, playing in the Navy Band as a trumpet soloist. He also helped organize the Navy Dance Band and was a member of the music arranging staff.

Following the war, Jackson earned a master’s degree with a brass instruments fellowship from Drake University.

He had a professional career in music, playing with the Benny Goodman Band and the Jimmy Dorsey Band.

In 1947, Jackson joined the Michigan State College Music Department as a trumpet instructor and as assistant director of bands. He directed the varsity band and assisted Leonard Falcone in leading the Spartan Marching Band. He was responsible for the drilling of the band in preparation for its football halftime performances. He was regarded as having “labored in the shadows” while working with the MSC Band.

In 1953, he left the MSC Music Department faculty, replaced as trumpet instructor by Byron Autrey and as assistant director of bands by Oscar Stover. Jackson moved across campus to become a professor in the Department of Continuing Education. He also earned a Ph.D. in guidance and counseling from Michigan State University.

Dr. Jackson later led a dance band in the East Lansing and Haslett area, including at the Lake Lansing ballroom. His subsequent career led him to Northern Michigan University as a professor and dean in the Department of Continuing Education, where he retired in 1979.

Don Jackson died in 2001.


Oscar Stover

Assistant Director, 1953-1960

Charles Oscar Stover was born in Kansas in 1913. In school he started on drums then switched to cornet, attending the community music school in his hometown. He graduated with a degree from Coffeyville Junior College in Coffeyville, Kansas, then with bachelor and master’s degrees from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas.

In 1935, Stover began his first teaching position as the vocal music teacher in the Coffeyville Public Schools. He then moved on to the Kansas Teacher’s College in 1942, serving as band director and instructor of brass instruments. During World War II, Stover served 2 ½ years as a bandsman in the U.S. Army, then subsequently returned to his duties at the Kansas Teacher’s College.

Stover moved on in 1947 to join the faculty of Coffeyville Public Schools as the supervisor of music. He simultaneously directed the band and taught music classes at Coffeyville Junior College. He took a leave of absence in 1952 to begin work on his doctorate degree at Michigan State College.

In 1953, after one year working on his advanced degree at Michigan State, Stover began working as a percussion instructor and Leonard Falcone appointed him as assistant director of bands, succeeding Don Jackson. Stover’s arrival at Michigan State coincided with the school’s admission to the Big Ten Conference, which created a busier athletic band than ever before. With a more active marching band, Stover had a greater role with the band than his predecessor.

Stover quickly got the nickname “Oscar the Charter” for his skill in charting the Spartan Marching Band into interesting and innovative formations. As assistant director, he was largely responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Spartan Marching Band. His duties also included directing the summer youth music program at Michigan State.

He remained as Falcone’s assistant and as a faculty instructor at MSU until 1960. In the fall of 1960, Stover accepted the chairmanship of the music department at Northwestern State College in Alva, Oklahoma, where he taught until his retirement in 1976. Stover continued to teach part time at Northwestern State College until 1982.

Throughout the 1980s, Stover was highly sought after as a judge and clinician in music education. His professional affiliations include the National Education Association, Music Education National Association, College Band Directors National Association, Oklahoma Education Association, Oklahoma Music Education Association, Oklahoma Bandmasters Association. His numerous honors include teacher of the year awards and induction into the Oklahoma Music Education Association hall of fame.

Stover remained active in retirement in the 1980s, participating in the MSU Alumni Band and teaching at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, serving as its director in 1987. Stover died in 1989.


William C. Moffit

Assistant Director, 1960-1969

William C. Moffit was born in Ohio in 1925. Following high school, Moffit enlisted in the United States Coast Guard and played in the Coast Guard Band. After World War II, Moffit utilized the GI Bill to attend Baldwin Wallace College, graduating in 1950. He taught in public schools throughout Michigan and Ohio in the 1950s, beginning his career at Tippecanoe High School in Tipp City, Ohio.

In 1960, Bill Moffit was hired by Michigan State University as assistant director of bands under Leonard Falcone. His duties included rehearsing the Spartan Marching Band in drill and music, responsible for most of the day-to-day operation of the SMB. Moffit is famous for his musical arrangements. He arranged “Pregame Fight,” a shorter and highly stylized version of the MSU Fight Song, and the famous tune “Eat ‘Em Up,” both still hallmarks of the Spartan Marching Band. The band’s music library is rich with Moffit arrangements, including countless collegiate fight songs, still often played by the SMB.

Moffit created the Spartan Brass athletic band in 1965 and directed the ensemble during his tenure.

While at MSU in the mid-1960s, Moffit developed the famous Patterns of Motion marching system. The revolutionary drill system is based on four-person squads and kaleidoscopic formations through individual squad drill. The Spartan Marching Band pregame show has been rooted in the fundamentals of Patterns of Motion since Moffit developed it. The SMB’s famous spinning of the Block-S is only possible through squad drill invented by Moffit.

Moffit remained at Michigan State through 1969, when he resigned to join the faculty of the University of Houston as the marching band director. His tenure at the University of Houston lasted through 1981, when he resigned to return to the Big Ten. In 1981, Moffit joined the faculty of Purdue University as director of bands, leading the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band until his retirement in 1988. Moffit was named “Music Arranger Laureate of Indiana” upon his retirement in 1988, he was also nominated for the Presidential Medal of Freedom and retained the title of director of bands emeritus at Purdue University.

He retired to Florida, serving as an adjunct professor of music at Jacksonville University and arranging for and conducting the First Coast Pops Orchestra.

Among the many accomplishments for which Moffit is known is his Soundpower series of band arrangements. Soundpower consists of more than 450 marching band music arrangements which are still used prolifically across the United States and have sold more than one million copies. Some of his early Soundpower arrangements were originated by the SMB and Spartan Brass and originally recorded by the ensembles.

Moffit was active with the MSU Alumni Band and was present when the Spartan Marching Band was the recipient of the Sudler Trophy in 1988. Bill Moffit died in 2008.


Joseph Parker

Assistant Director, 1969-1970

Joseph D. Parker was a Michigan native, born in 1933. He held a degree from Wayne State University. In 1954, he began a lengthy tenure as band director at Royal Oak Dondero High School. He left that position to pursue doctoral studies at Michigan State University in 1969.

In 1969, Dr. Harry Begian looked to the MSU Music Department’s doctoral students to find an assistant director of bands following the resignation of Bill Moffit, he tapped Parker for the position. Parker followed the tradition of former assistant directors in managing the day-to-day operations of the Spartan Marching Band, including rehearsal, music arrangement, charting, and drilling. Parker remained in the position through 1970, when both he and Dr. Begian left MSU.

In 1970, Parker returned to Royal Oak Dondero High School reassuming his former role as band director. He remained at Dondero until 1976 when he resigned to take another collegiate position at Asbury College in Kentucky. Parker earned his doctoral degree from the University of Kentucky while directing at Asbury. Dr. Parker remained at Asbury College for several years but eventually joined the faculty of Southwest Baptist University as director of bands, a position he held for many years.

Dr. Parker died in 2010.


David Catron

Assistant Director, 1970-1974

David L. Catron holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western State College of Colorado. He taught secondary instrumental music beginning in 1959. From 1967 to 1970, Catron directed the band at Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Kansas. Kenneth G. Bloomquist recruited Catron to join him at Michigan State in 1970.

Catron joined the faculty of Michigan State University in 1970 as assistant director of bands. In this period, the assistant director of bands did most of the day-to-day music and drill rehearsal of the Spartan Marching Band. From 1970 to 1973, Catron also directed the Spartan Brass. He remained at MSU through 1974.

In 1974, Catron was appointed director of bands at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, where he remained until 1979. Catron returned to MSU in 1979 as associate director of bands and director of the Spartan Marching Band. During Catron’s tenure, many elements of the band were refined to their current state, including the size being fixed at 300 members and the introduction of curvilinear drill and some drum corps elements in marching techniques and instrumentation.

During 1983 and 1984, upon the resignation of Stanley DeRusha, Catron served as acting director of bands. He remained director of the Spartan Marching Band in that period. Catron resigned as associate director of bands in 1988 and was appointed associate director of the School of Music and head of undergraduate music advising and curriculum. Catron retired from Michigan State University in 2002. He remains active with the MSU Alumni Band.


A. Thad Hegerberg

Assistant Director, 1974-1977

A. Thad Hegerberg is a native of Boyne City, Michigan. He attended Michigan State University, graduating with a bachelor of music education (1964) and master of arts (1970). While at MSU, he was a member and president of the Spartan Marching Band.

In 1964-1965, Hegerberg taught elementary wind and string music and served as the assistant band director in Benton Harbor, Michigan. In 1965, Hegerberg became the band director at Traverse City High School, a position he held until 1974. While in Traverse City he built a respected and award-winning band program, tripling its size in his nine-year tenure.

In 1974, following the resignation of David Catron, Hegerberg was appointed assistant director of bands, a position he held for four years.

Hegerberg is noted for his musical arrangements for band. He started arranging for the Spartan Marching Band around 1970. His arrangement of the “Star-Spangled Banner” is still played by the SMB today.

In 1977, upon the restructuring of the Department of Music, Hegerberg was promoted to associate director of bands and director of the Spartan Marching Band, a position he held for one year. This was the first season in which the associate director of bands position was formally assigned duties as director of the Spartan Marching Band. He resigned from MSU in 1978.

In 1980-1981, Hegerberg was director of bands at Southeast Missouri State University. In 1982-1983, he became the assistant director of bands at the University of Hawaii. From 1985 to 1991, Hegerberg was the department head of the Mid-Pacific School of the Arts in Hawaii.


P. Carl Chevallard

Associate Director, 1977-1978

Phillip Carl Chevallard is a native of Columbus, Ohio, and studied violin and voice in his youth. Chevallard earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Ohio State University (1972) and a master of music and Ph.D. in Music from the University of Iowa.

In 1972, Chevallard first taught music at the Walnut Township Schools in Millersport, Ohio. He then moved on to Iowa Wesleyan College.

Chevallard joined the faculty of Michigan State University in 1977 as assistant director of bands and associate director of the Spartan Marching Band. His first year was the first year of the restructured Department of Music, in which the assistant director of bands was formally assigned duties as associate director of the Spartan Marching Band. After one year in that position, he was promoted to associate director of bands and director of the Spartan Marching Band, a position he held in 1978-1979.

In 1979, Chevallard joined the faculty of San Jose State University as director of bands, where he remained until 1983. In 1983, Chevallard joined the United States Air Force Band in Washington D.C. as assistant conductor. From 1988 to 1998, he commanded Air Force Bands in California and Alaska. In 1998, he became commander and conductor of the United States Air Force Band of the Rockies, which was reestablished as the U.S. Air Force Academy Band in 2003. Chevallard retired from the USAF in 2004, after performing for five U.S. Presidents and leaving an indelible impact on the Academy Band. He remains active as a lecturer and presenter on topics of leadership throughout the United States.


William Wiedrich

Associate Director, 1982-1988

William W. Wiedrich attended Michigan State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1980. During his undergraduate at MSU, Wiedrich was a member of the Spartan Marching Band drumline and was a two-time president of the band. He subsequently attended the University of Oklahoma where he earned a master’s degree in 1982.

In 1982, Wiedrich returned from Oklahoma and joined Catron as the assistant director of bands and associate director of the Spartan Marching Band, a position he held through 1988. Wiedrich became the associate director of bands and director of the Spartan Marching Band in 1988-1989. During his single year as director, the band was the recipient of the prestigious Sudler Trophy from the John Philip Sousa Foundation.

Wiedrich resigned from MSU in 1989 and joined the faculty of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, where he directed the wind symphony. In 1995, Wiedrich was appointed director of band and wind ensembles at the University of South Florida. Wiedrich remains on the faculty of USF as the eirector of orchestral studies and associate professor of conducting, where he directs the USF Symphony Orchestra and opera theater.


Isaiah Odajima

Associate Director, 2005-2009

Isaiah Odajima taught music in the public schools of Texas prior to 2001, when he joined the faculty of Baylor University. From 2001 to 2003, Odajima served as the assistant director of bands and associate director of the Golden Wave Marching Band at Baylor University.

In 2003, Odajima came to Michigan State University to pursue doctoral studies. Following the completion of his degree he joined the faculty of Michigan State University as the assistant director of bands and associate director of the Spartan Marching Band, a position he held from 2005 to 2009.

Dr. Odajima rejoined the faculty of Baylor University in 2009. He is currently associate professor of ensembles and associate director of bands at Baylor, director of the Golden Wave Marching Band, and conductor of the Symphonic Band. His responsibilities include oversight of all athletic bands and as an adviser in music education. He also instructs courses in instrumental conducting and marching band methodology.

Dr. Odajima cites MSU directors of bands John Whitwell and Kevin Sedatole among his principal teachers. He is a member of the College Band Directors National Association, Texas Music Educators Association, and is an honorary member of the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association.


Cormac Cannon

Associate Director, 2009-2015

Cormac Cannon holds a bachelor of music degree from the University of Iowa. He served as director of bands at Williamsburg High School in Williamsburg, Iowa, 2001-2005, and director and conductor of the Cincinnati Youth Wind Ensemble, 2006-2007. Cannon holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.

In 2009, Cannon earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the University of Texas. He joined the faculty of Michigan State University as assistant director of bands and associate director of the Spartan Marching Band in 2009. Dr. Cannon remained at his post at Michigan State until 2015.

Dr. Cannon was appointed associate director of bands and director of athletic bands at the University of South Carolina in 2015. He is currently director of bands and associate professor of music at the University of South Carolina, where he leads the graduate wind conducting program and oversees the band program.


David Thornton

Associate Director, 2015-2017

David Thornton joined the faculty at Michigan State University’s College of Music as assistant director of Bands in 2015 and was appointed director of the Spartan Marching Band in 2017. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in wind conducting at Michigan State University where he served an active role teaching and assisting with all aspects of the band program. Prior to coming to MSU, Thornton taught in the state of Florida where he was the assistant director of bands at Eau Gallie High School (Melbourne) and most recently the director of bands at Leon High School (Tallahassee).

A native of Springfield, Virginia, Thornton received his Master’s of Music degree in wind conducting from Michigan State University and a Bachelor of Music Education and a Bachelor of Music in clarinet performance from Florida State University. He has professional affiliations with the Michigan Music Educators Association, Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association, Florida Music Educators Association, Florida Bandmasters Association, and the College Band Directors National Association.


Arris Golden

Associate Director, 2018-Present

Arris Golden is the assistant director of bands and associate director of the Spartan Marching Band at Michigan State University. Before joining the faculty at Michigan State University, Golden was a member of the conducting faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and served as the assistant director of University Bands. Prior to her appointment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Golden taught in the public schools of North Carolina for eighteen years, all at the middle school level.

Golden holds professional affiliations with the American School Band Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education, the North Carolina Music Educators Association, and the College Band Directors National Association.