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Ohio State Names Permanent Band Director

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The band dubbed The Best Damn Band in the Land has a new leader. Ohio State University has chosen its interim director for the job. The new director plans to keep the band’s positive momentum going forward.

The Ohio State University March Band went through a lot when the university fired then-director Jon Waters, in 2014. There was division and push back by some current and former band members…even fans. But the last year seems to have healed old wounds, and the band is moving on…now with a permanent leader: Christopher Hoch.

Hoch, 39, said the previous season was a learning experience for both him and band members.

“To help them gain an understanding of what a great culture we have now in the Ohio State Marching Band, and we look forward to continuing that in the next few years," he said. 

Hoch is an OSU band alum himself, and after returning to the university to pursue a doctorate, in 2012, he took on the interim director role last May.

He said he thinks involving band members in the process of creating a new culture has helped them buy into it.

“Hearing what they have to say as far as their needs and their concerns and, you know, what they want the band to be," Hoch said. "But also making it clear through understanding what the policies are and what the rules are that we have to follow.”

An OSU investigation, which led to Waters’ termination, found sexual harassment, hazing and heavy drinking in the band. But Hoch said the band is moving beyond that. Last fall, the band traveled to London to perform for an NFL matchup in Wembley Stadium.

“[The students are] presenting themselves extremely well both on the field and off the field. They’re working hard. We are working hard," Hoch said. "And that’s a process that we’re certainly going to continue looking at this year. We’re in the process of selecting our squad leaders for our upcoming season.”

Those squad leaders are important because they embody the new culture and will help carry forward the band’s new rules as younger band members join ranks.

As far as Hoch’s leadership style, he said he takes a collaborative approach, working with both staff and students.

With an eye on the future, Hoch said the band is in the early stages of putting together the upcoming season’s half-time performances. He said roughly 50 ideas will be narrowed to seven or eight shows.  

“We’re looking to continue to building upon the show design and the creative process that we’ve established over the last several years," he said. 

WOSU reached out to the group - We Stand With Jon - that vigorously campaigned to have Waters reinstated, but it pointed us to the band’s alumni club. In an email, alumni club president Jeff Dury writes, the “announcement brings to an end the uncertainty of who will lead the students not only this season, but for the foreseeable future as well.” 

In addition to the position of band director, Hoch also will be a faculty member of the Music School.

OSU’s board of trustees must approve Hoch’s appointment. His contract would be effective June First though May 2020.