The leader of the bandOct. 9, 2006

Band Director Tim Smith at Homecoming 2006.

photo by Jay EricsonBand Director Tim Smith at work.

Once Tim Smith read the job announcement for Regimental Band Director at Norwich University, there was never any doubt in his mind. The former Marine Corps officer was finishing up a graduate degree at the University of Georgia's Hodgson School of Music, and he knew right away it was the job for him.

"I just couldn't believe what I was seeing," he recalled. "It was like I wrote a job for myself. I think I sent my resume within 24 hours."

His musical and military background made him the ideal candidate to lead the oldest collegiate band in the country.

In 1981, Smith enlisted in the Marines as a trombonist and after basic training at Recruit Depot Parris Island, he hit the road serving in one of the twelve U.S. Marine Corps Bands. Later in his career, Smith served as an instructor at the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, Va., where he taught military musicians from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

Now, as he goes about the business of providing the soundtrack to the Norwich experience, Smith said he plans to take the Regimental Band in some new directions.

"I expect to play some things that haven't been heard here before," Smith said. "There are any number of things we could do. It doesn't have to be John Phillips Sousa all the time, although that's a good place to start. We could play Eminem, if the message is right."

The new director's own musical tastes are best described as eclectic. When Smith lists his favorite artists, his picks include everything from old school R&B to noted composer and conductor Gustav Mahler.

"I also like Earth, Wind and Fire and I've been listening to a lot of Rascal Flatts lately" Smith said. "Francis McBeth [noted music educator and composer] said that he only listens to honest music, and that’s kind of the way I feel about it," he added. "If it's real and not commercial, I will probably listen to it."

One of his goals as director is to pass on his idea of tradition to a new generation of band members.

"My definition of tradition is integrity and quality of performance coupled with a high G.P.A. I have high expectations, but I find that, almost without exception, people will live up to your expectations and they want to be led."

After delving into the history and learning more of what the University is all about, Smith said he is more excited about the opportunity now than he was prior to taking the position.

"We have the unique ability to communicate on more than one level. Whether it’s a jazz band in a park or a marching band in a parade, there is something being communicated there and we have to make sure that what we communicate is the essence of this institution," he said.

"The living, breathing face of Norwich, in my opinion, is the band. Another one of my goals is to teach the students what they have here," Smith said. "We have something that's pretty special and we ought to make it the best it can possibly be."