Photo by Ed Crockett
Dr. Jon R. Woods, director of The Ohio State University Marching Band, has completed his 28th and final marching season amid a number of tributes from students, alumni and colleagues. Woods, with university president E. Gordon Gee, announced his retirement at the band’s “Skull Session” (pre-game rehearsal open to the public) before the first home game of the 2011 season.
“I’ve been here for 38 years (the first 10 as assistant band director), and I feel like the time had come for me to step aside and play my trombone a little bit more and enjoy life— not that I wasn’t before,” Woods says.
Script Woods and Dotting the I
In the tradition of the famed “Script Ohio,” coincidentally celebrating its 75th anniversary, “The Best Damn Band In The Land” surprised Woods by creating a “Script Woods” during halftime of the Nov. 19 game against Penn State.
“It was fun because that week I wasn’t supposed to know,” Woods says. “In the last half hour of practice, they said I was needed on the telephone. They did that three times that week, and what was really going on is that once I would go out of sight, they’d practice it.”
The band and sousaphone section unanimously voted to give Woods the greatest honor the band can bestow—an invitation to “Dot the I.”
Additionally, the band played a surprise concert at Woods’ home, a tradition for the retirement of top university dignitaries. Woods heard the cadence approaching as he and his wife placed the star atop their Christmas tree.
Honorary dinners were held both on campus and at this year’s Midwest Clinic, and Woods has received countless letters, emails and calls congratulating him on his illustrious career.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, and these events have had a tremendous impact,” Woods says. “I knew people would respond, but I had no idea of the numbers or volumes of people that would take the time to send a note or call and say congrats.”
Woods cites his favorite game as the 2003 National Championship overtime win against Miami and the three presidential inauguration parade performances as a career highlight. He will complete his duties as director of athletic bands and a professor in the School of Music this semester.
For retirement he plans to play his trombone, travel and enjoy as much live music as possible.
“Being in front of that band every week is such a thrill,” Woods says. “Every time you step in front of them, they play so well; it’s a great experience. The most important legacy is a great passion for continuing upon a tradition of excellence. I think our band works hard to be the best we can be, year in and year out.”