Photo credit: Jolesch Photography
By Steve Sears
Todd Nichols, a former Music teacher and Director of Bands at Roxbury High School, was recently named President of the Big Ten Band Director’s National Association.
Currently the Director of University Bands at Rutgers University, Nichols’ term will run from 2022 to 2024.
Nichols, who is 45, was selected at the association’s annual, multi-day conference. “We go over different procedural and operational things,” Nichols says of the event. “The organization has a chance to get together and monitor what’s going on, and also make sure that things are taken care of for the organization. It’s a chance for the 14 directors to get together and discuss different things that are going on in the schools that are of interest during that time.”
One of the “procedural” things was to select a new President, and the other band directors in the conference nominated and chose Nichols on December 17, 2020.
Nichols, who has lived in New Jersey his entire life, knew since the seventh grade that in some capacity he wanted to be a professional musician. “I went to undergrad in New Jersey, and I taught for 19 years, obviously 13 of which were in Roxbury, and the entire time while I was teaching, I was playing as a freelance percussionist professionally. It’s just something I’ve always kind of known since I was 12 years old. I’ve just always loved music and loved performing, and I wanted the chance to pay things forward. I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of people who were very inspirational, a lot of great mentors, and just be able to do what I love, and to be able try to do it the best that I can.”
The bands Nichols has directed have performed for some very prestigious folks and worthy locations. His Marching Scarlet Knights at Rutgers have performed for former Vice President, Joe Biden, and also during halftime on Monday Night Football. The Roxbury High School Wind Symphony have been on stage at both Avery Fisher and Carnegie Halls, and also were part of the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show featuring Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2014. During his time in the Roxbury school system, he oversaw the entire grade 6 through 12 percussion programs. “The 13 years in Roxbury are some of the most meaningful years of my teaching career,” he fondly says. “It’s a very special place. I consider it to still be family, and I have tremendous respect for the community, the music program, and for all that goes on there.”
Nichols, who is happily married to his wife Beth and is a dad to two daughters, Sarah and Emily, received his bachelors degree in Music from The College of New Jersey, and Master of Music from Messiah College in Pennsylvania.
Nichols addresses his plans for the Big Ten Band Director’s National Association. “As far as the association is concerned, this is a great moment to address some of the concerns that are post-COVID for large performing ensembles and bands, and being an advocate for public school music programs, especially in the state of New Jersey, to be able to help them as they recover. But also, another goal that I have is that Rutgers is very new compared to other institutions who have decades of history in this conference. I look forward to the opportunity to introduce Rutgers to the nation and the Big Ten in a more global way. To get more eyes and understanding on our university for the people who are unaware of the amazing things happening at Rutgers.”