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The new director of the Marching Scarlet Knights talks of his debut

Todd Nichols will lead the Rutgers Marching Band for the first time on Friday night; he’s excited and hopes you will be, too


Back in February, Rutgers brought on a new marching band director. Tim Smith had retired and Todd Nichols was taking over as the leader of the Marching Scarlet Knights. He talked with us then, talking about his vision and hopes for the band.

His conversation that was tweeted by RU Athletics gave some opening thoughts.

And he expanded on them with us. Once again, Todd was good enough to speak with On the Banks and expand on his thoughts now that band camp is over and it’s time to hit the field.

OTB: How has it been coming on as the director? Any surprises, pleasant or otherwise?

Todd Nichols: It has been a whirlwind for sure! Honestly, everyone has been incredibly welcoming and supportive. The administration and staff have been beyond kind and helpful every step of the way. The students are second to none! They are hard working, dedicated, and eager to achieve greatness! I have quickly come to find that Rutgers truly is a very special place.

OTB: You’ve just wrapped up camp. How big is the band as you start the season? And what are your plans for future?

TN: Right now the band enrollment is around 210. I am thrilled with this number for the first year. We have a five year plan in place with the hope of building the total band enrollment to 350. This includes members of our wind, percussion, and color guard sections.

OTB: What is your plan for the pre-game, halftime, and post-game shows?

TN: Pre-game will build on our traditions as a band and university and will feature traditional fight songs and a B1G style field entry and exit. However, a new New Jersey twist will be infused as part of our new direction to reestablish our identity as a New Jersey icon. My colleague Joe Busuito has brilliantly designed a new pre-game show that embraces the tradition of the RU Marching Scarlet Knights and our future identity while holding true to the quality, style, and energy expected from a B1G band program. You definitely want to be in your the seats to see this pre-game show!

Halftime will be full of high energy performances featuring rock infused musical arrangements, creative drill designs, and colorful and imaginative visual enhancements with our color guard and band choreography.

During post-game you will find a more active participation from the band to enhance the game day experience. The band will honor our university and football team at the end of each game with the playing of our Alma Mater. After that, you will want to stick around as the band will continue to perform during post game with more musical selections performed mid field at the end of the game. You can expect a "musical recap"of the day's events.

OTB: What is the program for the Washington game? Any thoughts of how to "introduce" your vision of the band for the fans?

This week's show is entitled War Before the Shore and will enhance the overall theme for opening day. You will find yourself essentially immersed in the JERSEY SHORE for the day!!!!! Musical arrangements will highlight iconic themes that scream Jersey shore and beach rock N' roll! We will definitely be JERSEY STRONG!

As far as introducing my new vision... I simply suggest fans stay in their seats for halftime...the first 45 seconds of this show will introduce my new vision of the MSK and our quest to bring high energy and exciting performances to our fans week after week.

Thanks to new Band Director Todd Nichols for giving us a preview of the Marching Scarlet Knights and the introduction of his imprint on the band. The Big Ten has always had great bands; there are those who refer to the “Big Ten style” of marching. Todd isn’t looking at that “style”, as he mentioned in our post back in February. But he is looking to make the band - as they say when they’re introduced - the Pride of New Jersey.

Get to your seats a little early....stay in them for halftime....see the post game show, too. Hey, it’s game day!