While some music and band programs at publicly funded schools may have suffered due to lack of funding over the past decade, the program at Northeastern State University is alive and growing.
As such, a new face leads the university’s marching band. Dr. James Lindroth joined the NSU family in fall 2012, and serves as assistant professor of music education and assistant director of bands.
Prior to his appointment at NSU, he was on the faculty at the University of South Florida at Tampa, where he taught music education and conducting classes, and was assistant director of bands while earning his doctorate.
“When I graduated with my Ph.D., I was looking for a job that would keep me doing what I was doing, which was teaching music education and working with bands,” said Lindroth. “[Under the direction of NSU Director of Bands] Norman [Wika], the program is growing and growing, and they needed someone to take over the marching band. So, when the administration conducted the search, they included directing the marching band, which is just what I was looking for.”
This year, the RiverHawks marching band offered two shows: The first included a medley of rock band Queen’s catalogue, and the second is titled “Dance Rock Party.”
“We’re in the process of finishing our second show,” said Lindroth. “It’s pretty standard to offer more than one show at the college level. ‘Dance Rock Party’ includes the songs ‘Gimme Some Lovin’,’ ‘Celebration’ by Kool and The Gang, Van Halen’s ‘Jump,’ and ‘Dance Party Anthem,’ sort of a newer song that came out a few years back.”
Lindroth is an active arranger, and has written music for many high school and university marching bands – including Ohio State University, University of Tennessee, and the University of South Florida. He has also performed with the New England Philharmonic Orchestra, the Metropolitan Symphony and the Florida Wind Band.
Prior to teaching at the university level, Lindroth taught music in public schools for 16 years, primarily high school band and orchestra. Lindroth said college marching band offers students a little more flexibility than what they may have experienced in high school.
“Which is not to say the rehearsals are any less stringent,” said Lindroth. “But the big difference between a college and high school marching band is, there are no competitions in college. The shows have to have more audience appeal than competitive elements. You have to have music the crowd will recognize and know.”
And because shows have to be changed frequently, there is less time to concentrate on highly technical points, he said.
“We don’t have that much time for the technical,” said Lindroth. “You just have to be able to have shows that are functional and enjoyable. You get it as good as you can in the time that you have, which is never as good as competition shows. College marching band is supposed to be more fun, a little more laid-back.”
The RiverHawks Marching Band boasts about 90 members this year – a number Lindroth hopes to increase.
“The one area I would like to improve is to get more students involved in the program,” he said.
“Hopefully, as the band program continues to grow and we recruit and build, more kids will get involved. The pool of talent at NSU is very wonderful. The university has some very talented musicians, and we have both music majors and non-music majors in marching band. It is a far more diverse population than other programs.”
He believes the band’s greatest strength is its adaptability.
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