J. Nick Smith is Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Bands and Director of Athletic Bands for the School of Music & Dance at Eastern Michigan University. Smith recently completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Wind Band Conducting with emphasis in Choral Conducting at the University of Minnesota with primary teachers Emily Threinen and Kathy Saltzman Romey. His doctoral thesis, “Reimagining Nänie, Op. 82, Johannes Brahms: Inspiration, Creation, and Challenges of a Transcription for Chamber Winds and Chamber Choir,” was authored in conjunction with his final doctoral project, a transcription which was intended to increase collaborations between the wind band, orchestra, and choral mediums. Prior to his doctoral studies, he received his Master of Music degree in Wind Band Conducting from the University of Michigan with primary teacher Michael Haithcock.
Smith’s professional experiences range from work with middle school musicians through adult community and professional ensemble musicians. As an active guest conductor and clinician, Smith has held recent engagements with the Medalist Concert Band (www.medalistband.com/), the Neoteric Chamber Winds (www.neotericwinds.org/), the 34th Infantry Division Band for a concerto project as part of the 2019 North American Saxophone Alliance Regional Conference, and various local and regional ensembles in the areas he has been employed. Smith was also selected as one of Minnesota Chorale’s Emerging Conductors(www.mnchorale.org/emergingconductor.html) where he lead a rehearsal of selections from the Verdi, Requiem. Smith was also recently active as an international conductor and clinician in Beijing, China and the surrounding areas where he has engaged over fifteen local band programs over a five-year period.
As an experienced public school educator, Smith served a total of six years in the positions of Assistant Director then Director of Bands at Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. As Director of Bands, he instructed the Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band, the “Pride of Patriot Parkway” Marching Band, and taught AP Music Theory. Under his direction, the Hillcrest High School Wind Ensemble received “Superior with Distinction” at all Music Performance Assessment events and was invited to perform at the 2014 University of Alabama Honor Band Festival and the 2013 Music for All National Concert Band Festival. In addition, the Percussion Ensemble was invited to perform at the 2012 Alabama Music Educator’s Conference. During Smith’s tenure as Director of Bands, the program had the highest number of students in the history of the band program selected for the Alabama All-State Honor Band.
Smith earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Auburn University, where he was named the “Outstanding Undergraduate Student in the College of Education.” Among serving as Head Drum Major for the Auburn University Marching Band and principal trumpet of various ensembles, he was also President and Treasurer of Kappa Kappa Psi, and Founding President for the student chapter of the National Band Association.
Smith is an active member of The College Band Director’s National Association, Life Member of Kappa Kappa Psi, and Honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma.