Stepping in for Jack Taylor, who retired Spring 2020 after 40 years as University of Findlay’s band director, is Wes King. As the new director of bands, King will direct the marching and pep bands in addition to the wind ensemble, symphonic band, and jazz ensemble.
It’s important to King that he honors Taylor’s legacy. As he started to learn more about the band program at UF, it was obvious to King that a great foundation had been laid for him under Taylor’s leadership. “I’m really honored to take over the reins from him,” King said. “I really respect the years of service that Jack has put in and the relationship that he has with the students, the alumni, and I take that seriously. I want to honor his legacy and make the band bigger and better and stronger, so he can look back with a lot of pride and feel good about having retired and trusting me.”
With the strong foundation Taylor laid, King said he is excited to focus his efforts on growing the band and making it more visible with marketing and social media strategies. “That’s going to be a huge part of my mission for the first few years is doing everything we can to reach more prospective students,” King said. “I also want to make sure there are plenty of opportunities in the band program for students on campus to perform and also have leadership opportunities.”
Prior to coming to Findlay, King most recently held the position of Graduate Assistant at the University of Memphis, where he worked with the athletic bands and concert bands, while he worked on completing his Doctorate of Music in Wind Conducting. Before that, he founded the band program at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan. He received his Master’s of Music in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Arkansas, and his Bachelor’s of Music Education in Instrumental Music from Mississippi State University.
King hopes to bring a new energy and inertia to the bands, and wants to re-engage with the community. “I’m a community-minded person,” he said. “I would really like to see our students involved in the community and sharing music and their artistic endeavors with other people outside of campus, but also with students on campus.”
In previous positions, he has placed an emphasis on diversity and staying in touch with current music in order to engage the student population, something he plans to bring to Findlay. “I’m a fan of the oldies and I’m a fan of standard football and basketball music and things like classic rock, but let’s be honest, most of our students are listening to hip hop and rap music,” he said. “What of that can be transferred into the marching band or pep band idiom that make sense for our community and updates it? So, we aren’t only playing for our alumni and our greater community, but we’re also playing music that reflects our current student body.”
Transitioning to a small, private university, King looks forward to being able to include his family in the Oiler Nation community. “I look forward to being able to be really involved and invested in a community where I get to know my peers, my students and also a small environment where my kids can be around. I’m really looking forward to my kids coming to practice and to games and they’re excited to be part of that. My family is so important to me and so paramount and so I feel like this kind of position is going to allow me to have the kind of professional and family life that I want to have.”
He also looks forward to the relationships and impact he will be able to have at a small university like Findlay. “I can also get to know all my students; or I can get to know their names, their majors, I can get to know them as people, and I can be a real influence in their lives,” King said. He plans on meeting with students in the near future, especially any student leadership, and engaging them; he hopes to hear what they want to see and what things have worked well for them in the past. “There’s a lot of tradition in place I’m sure already, so I want to respect that and honor that, but we can make those small tweaks that the students give me some input on as time goes along.”
In light of current events relating to the Coronavirus pandemic, King wants his future students to know that he is already thinking about preparations for the fall given any situation. “I want students to know I’m already here for them and I’m making preparations for us to hit the ground running either in-person or online,” he said. “No matter what happens next fall, we’re going to make music whether that’s in our dorm room or in our house or whether that’s in the band room, we’re going to make music together.”
To learn more about Findlay’s athletic bands, visit https://www.findlay.edu/arts-humanities-social-sciences/art/athletic-bands. Learn more about Findlay’s concert bands at https://www.findlay.edu/arts-humanities-social-sciences/art/concert-band.