Dr. Chandler L. Wilson is Eastern Michigan University's new marching band director as of this past summer. Wilson has experience in directing as well as composition.
Wilson received his bachelors in music education from Florida A&M University (FAMU), acquired a Master of Arts in Wind Band Conducting from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and most recently his Ph.D. in music education, with an emphasis in conducting from Florida State University (FSU).
"I wouldn't say I have any changes coming for the program," Wilson said. "I plan to enhance the experience of marching band for the students and for the audience. We played at the football game last Wednesday. We played this tune called 'We Ready' and as soon as we started, the football team started going nuts. It was a great experience for the students because it was like, 'Hey this is what football games can be.'"
Hannah Shadley is in their second year in Eastern's Marching Band. They met Wilson at band camp this past summer.
"He is from the south and the bands down there have a whole different, and often very high energy," Shadley said. "He definitely brings that whole new energy to Eastern. You can already tell from band camp."
Wilson previously taught and directed at two different high schools. At Hollywood Hills High School in Florida, the concert and marching band consistently received exceptional ratings under his direction. In his time at Cooper City High School, the Cooper City Marching Band was named "Grand Champions" in the Sugar Bowl's marching band competition. EMU is the very first university Wilson will direct and teach at.
"There is a lot of differences when it comes to logistics, politics and the handling of finances," Wilson said. "Like normally in high school you have a 'band-parent' organization. Other than that, when it comes to being able to connect to students and providing music, there's not that much of a difference at all."
Despite his current passion for music education, Wilson did not always intend to be an educator. In fact, his first interest was computers. It was not until an intervention from his directors at FAMU that he changed his major.
"Education was not always my plan," Wilson recalled with a laugh. "One day, some of my directors asked me to come to their office. They very bluntly asked, 'Why aren't you a music major?' and I explained I didn't really want to teach. But that intervention from my directors got me to change my major, and I ended up loving it."
Wilson's success is not limited to band directing, he is also a published composer. His music composition is sought-after by high school and collegiate marching bands across the country and has been performed by All-County/District Honor Bands and All-State Bands. He began composing out of curiosity at FAMU, he explained. He composes music once or twice a year for fun, or if he is commissioned.
Wilson's interest in EMU was peaked by former EMU Marching Band Director, Dr. Amy Knopps, at a conference the two of them ran together at FSU.
"Eastern has a great tradition of music education," Wilson said. "I see a lot of the local directors in the Michigan and Ohio area are graduates of EMU, but my interest peaked when Dr. Amy Knopps could not stop raving about her time here at EMU."
EMU Marching Band has been performing at athletic events, parades and other functions for 125 years. Wilson's abundant experience in music education and composition should be an asset to EMU's musical success.
"The work ethic of EMU students is a big plus," Wilson added. "When you have students who have that same mindset of grinding and working real hard, you have a good recipe for success."