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Meet Jon Waters: Falcon Marching Band Director

Emma Wanyek
Falcon Media Marching Band Director Jon Waters.

Band Director Jon Waters is joining BGSU as the Director of the Falcon Marching Band. This year, the band is just shy of 300 members, making Falcon Marching Band the largest band throughout the history of Bowling Green.

Why did you choose to come direct for the Falcon Marching Band?

“A Bowling Green position came available so friends who had connections here reached out and asked that I apply for this job. I thought that the opportunity might be good. I applied, and here we are. I was fortunate enough to be selected among a large number of people who applied for the position. It has come full circle for me, because my father was a graduate from BGSU and the first memory I had of a marching band was around 1980. At a BGSU football game, I sat behind the BG marching band and was enamored by the band. And who would have guessed that all these years later I would be able to return here, the place of my first inspiration with a marching band. I’ve had an interesting career and I’ve been able to do a lot of unique things in the world of bands, and being at BG has allowed that journey to continue and I’m just happy to lend my expertise and experience here to try and make the student experience in the band even better.”

During your time at The Ohio State University, you revolutionized the usage of iPads for marching bands. Does the Falcon Marching Band use them as well?

“The students read music on cellphones and other devices. I am a paper person and I like the feel and touch of paper, seeing music on paper and drill charts for the band on paper, but that’s not who we’re teaching these days. We’re teaching students who have been brought up on technology, and when I was at OSU we were spending so much money on paper and making copies of music every year. Hundreds of thousands of copies and it was tens of thousands of dollars so I thought there’s got to be a way to do this paperless, so I engaged with some students of ours who were more technologically savvy than me. Together, we were able to put together a process by which we got rid of all of the paper music, paper charts and put it on iPads and now that technology is being used across the country. Students typically use a music lyre, which is a clip that holds sheet music onto your instrument but those have been revamped to hold cell phones so students can read music from their cell phone.”

How long have you been playing music for?

“I have been playing music since I was a kid, I played guitar around six or seven years old. My mom made me join the middle school band against my wishes at the time, but that was a pivotal moment because being there and being in the middle school band for the first time, I had that “aha” moment of all this sound around me, and all these instruments playing together. I figured out that I could do it okay, and that I was going to be alright and she made me go to my first concert. At first I was not going to go and quit instead, but it would’ve been the worst decision I could’ve ever made and I’m glad she made me go and here I am all these years later.”

What is your favorite instrument?

“My favorite instrument is probably the tuba because it’s the instrument I play most well. I half joke with our cymbal players because I say the cymbals are the most important instrument in the band because of the tone color that they add to the band. I love our cymbal section, but I would have to say tuba is my favorite because it’s what I know best.”

What’s your favorite thing about BGSU?

“My favorite thing at BGSU is definitely the people. The people here are wonderful, it’s the Northwest Ohio values that I grew up with now placed on a college campus here and you see it in the people you deal with, the administrative professionals, the teaching faculty and especially the students. I loved my time in Columbus, and I loved every one of my students I had. Here though, the students have a blue collar mentality. They roll up their sleeves, they get it done, they don’t complain and they’re here just to have a great band experience. I think sometimes in the bigger universities, the students can get a little bit spoiled with all of the perks they get and Ohio State was no different and being in the band was no different, but our students here are very humble, very down to earth and very willing to work and get the job done with very much less than bigger universities. We do it well and the students have a great experience.”

The Falcon Marching Band performing in the Doyt L. Perry Stadium.
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  • B

    Betty and Charles DibertSep 22, 2023 at 1:18 pm

    Our hometown boy has come back closer to home and we couldn’t be more proud of him. I am still wearing my OSU-Woodmore shirt that we purchased when Jon and the OSU band came to play at the Woodmore High School. That was a proud time to have our hometown boy home with the band he directed. We wish him continued success and good luck to the band. Have a great yeaar.

  • R

    Randall W HertzerSep 21, 2023 at 2:06 pm

    A great hire by BG, and I’m sure the band will do outstanding things under his direction.

  • S

    Susan HuffordSep 21, 2023 at 8:22 am

    A great article! A good inspiration for young musicians.

  • B

    BARNEY MARTINSep 20, 2023 at 8:46 pm


  • W

    WilSep 20, 2023 at 6:09 pm

    Great article.
    In fact, I was just thinking a few days ago…someone needs to do an article on the new band director! He deserves some pub.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • T

    TimmSep 20, 2023 at 5:37 pm

    Jon Waters – The world’s top band director.