Alex Thode is currently pursuing B.F.A. in Music Composition at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he has studied with composition with Dr. William Heinrichs and Dr. Jonathan Monhardt.
Alex has been heavily involved in the marching arts since 2008. His intuitive sense of musical color, emotion, pacing and direction helps derive maximum general effect in his marching band arrangements. He steers clear of literal, verbatim transcriptions of source material for his marching band arrangements, instead injecting his own unique compositional voice and arranging style, while still maintaining accessibility and recognizability for audiences and judges.
Alex's clientele spans from coast to coast, including Sudler Shield award winners and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade participants, and numerous have been class champions and runners-up, semi-finalists, finalists and grand champions at the local and state level. He has also had groups perform at the Bands of America (BOA) Grand National Championships and various BOA Regionals and Super Regionals.
Alex is a graduate of Greendale High School in Greendale, Wisconsin, where he was an avid student leader and participant in all areas of their music program, including marching band, concert band, jazz band, choir, and honors choir. Immediately after graduating, he joined the staff of the Sudler Shield award-winning marching band, where he served as a front ensemble technician in 2012-2014, and has been arranging their music and serving as an additional music instructor since 2013. He was also a recipient of the John Philip Sousa award.
Along with composing works for marching band, Alex also has been commissioned to write middle school and high school concert band works. Alex is a member of ASCAP.
Currently an undergraduate at the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee pursuing a B.F.A in Music Composition & Technology.
- Dr. William Heinrichs, Music Composition
- Dr. Jonathan Monhardt, Music Composition
- Prof. Jeffry Peterson, Piano Performance
Work Experience -
FRONT ENSEMBLE INSTRUCTOR
Greendale High School, WI (2012-2014)
Cudahy High School, WI (2013)
Greendale High School, WI (2014-present)
Fleurish Winds, WI (2017-present)
Music Commissions -
CONCERT BAND/WIND ENSEMBLE COMPOSITIONS
- Greendale High School, WI (2011, 2012)
- Westwood Middle School, WA (2015, 2016)
PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE COMPOSITIONS
- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Percussion Ensemble (2016)
MARCHING ARTS ARRANGER/COMPOSER
- Please see Clientele page.
"I have worked with Alex Thode for three high school marching band commissions as well as two middle school concert band commissions. I could not have been happier with all of his work. It is fresh, innovative, and unique. He has a passion for giving his clients what they are looking for. He works with every group as if the group was his own. The Cheney High School marching band has been taken to a new level of performance both musically and with visual opportunity with his compositions and arrangements. We do not plan on changing composers, ever, as far as I am concerned!"
- Joshua Wisswell
Assistant Director of Bands
Cheney High School, WA
"Alex Thode's creativity is off-the-charts. His professionalism and willingness to please makes any band director's job easier, and allows the strengths of a particular ensemble to be highlighted extremely well. His integration of percussion with the wind score creates seamless transitions throughout his shows. I am very proud to have Alex writing for our band."
- Tom Reifenberg
Director of Bands
Greendale High School, WI
"It was truly a wonderful experience working with Alex Thode. Alex is one of the best young composers that I've had the pleasure of working with in the last nineteen years at Brien McMahon. I highly recommend him."
- Ronald Secchi
Music Department Chairman/Director of Bands
Brien McMahon High School, CT
"Alex Thode is a talented arranger/composer... As a client, I felt as though I was his top priority at all times, as he answered my questions and made changes in a very timely manner. He was flexible in the creation process and the final product was fun, original, playable, and helped make my band shine on the field. I highly recommend Alex Thode as an arranger/composer to anyone looking for a fresh voice in the marching band world. He is completely professional and dynamic."
- Robb Duddey
Director of Bands
Dixie Heights High School, KY
"I highly, highly recommend Alex Thode for writing music for your ensemble. Throughout the compositional process, he sent drafts to our marching staff for feedback on what we needed for the band and what he might improve. He is a very gifted composer as well as humble and open to feedback, always wanting to improve himself and the groups he works with. His writing is imaginative and catered to our ensemble exactly."
- Sarah Bruening
Director of Bands
Cudahy High School, WI
"The musical arrangements I received from Alex Thode for our 2013 production of "Let Them Eat Cake!" were nothing short of superior! The music was written and arranged with a skill and ability far beyond what I had hoped for. Each piece was tailored to fit my band and brought out their strengths as musicians and played towards what they did best. Each portion of the show was through-composed and the pit parts not only were integral to the performances but extremely well-written and highly accessible. The skill in arranging Alex displays is that of a seasoned arranger and speaks to a very bright future for him as he continues to hone his craft. He met every deadline and made any changes requested with a short turn-around time."
- Tom Cook
Director of Bands (retired)
Fort Atkinson High School, WI
I am thrilled to be able to work with some of the most talented designers in the business.
These are the first people I recommend when asked about percussion or drill-writing services!
Cole Williams is an arranger, educator, and performer from Guthrie, Oklahoma. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Oklahoma State University, and a Master of Music in Music Performance from the University of Arkansas. Currently, Cole is the Adjunct Professor of Percussion at the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
A diverse arranger noted for his musicality and professionalism, Cole writes for distinguished groups around the country. Working with top wind arrangers in the activity, his work has been featured by winning ensembles in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
As a performer, Cole has had the privilege of playing in several respected ensembles at Oklahoma State University and the University of Arkansas. He has performed at the Oklahoma Music Educator's Association Winter Convention, the College Orchestra Director’s Association Convention, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, the Collegiate Band Directors National Association Convention, and the Japan Band Clinic. Professionally, Cole has performed as a member of the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra and Opera Fayetteville. In addition to his activity in the concert percussion realm, Cole is also an avid marching percussion enthusiast, and spent two summers with The Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps (2012-2013) as a quad player.
Cole is a sought after educator in the marching percussion realm. He is the Executive Director of Resistance Indoor Percussion. In addition to Resistance, Cole has served as a Percussion Instructor for several high schools, including Alma High School, Guthrie High School, Stillwater High School, and Yukon High School. He has also served as the Caption Head of the Oklahoma State University Winter Drumline, a group designed to help high school and college students polish their rudimental skills. From 2014-2016, Cole spent three seasons as the Assistant Percussion Caption Head/Tenor Technician for the Cascades Drum and Bugle Corps. Most recently, Cole was the instructor for the University of Arkansas Razorback Drumline.
Cole Williams is a Vic Firth Educator, Pearl/Adams Regional Educational Artist, Zildjian Education Artist, and a member of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS).
Nick Riley (b. 1989) is a sought-after composer, arranger, educator, and judge for the pageantry arts. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio where he studied music education with James Swearingen, Jim Dowdy, and Dr. Barry E. Kopetz; percussion with Bob Breithaupt, Nate Anders, and Eric Paton; and music composition with Dr. Dina Lentsner and Tony Zilincik.
Nick is the Director of Bands at Liberty Center Local Schools in northwest Ohio where he supervises all aspects of the instrumental music program, grades 5 through 12. Since his appointment in 2012, the band program has shown tremendous growth in quality and interest. In addition to Nick's full time duties as a band director, he is an avid composer and arranger for pageantry arts ensembles nationally and internationally. Since beginning his writing career in 2007, Nick has written for over 50 ensembles as founder of NPR Marching Concepts, an online pageantry arts design business.
He is heavily involved in the indoor percussion activity as an arranger, instructor, and administrator for numerous ensembles, most notably ConneXus Percussion, the PIO indoor percussion ensemble that he co-founded in 2012. Since then, Nick has helped lead ConneXus to three appearances in the Finals of the WGI World Championships alongside numerous other accolades. Nick has also worked with the Legends Drum & Bugle Corps, Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps, The Ohio State University Marching Band, the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps, and the Medellin Gran Banda Drum & Bugle Corps.
Nick is a member of CSJA, OMEA, ASCAP, NAfME, and PAS and is proud to hold endorsements from Vic Firth, Evans/D'Addario, Sabian, and Black Swamp Percussion. A native of Centerville, Ohio, he currently resides in Perrysburg, Ohio, just south of Toledo.
Blake is originally from Owensboro, Kentucky. Since 2008, Blake has been heavily involved in the marching arts. In 2013, he performed with Music City Drum and Bugle Corps from Nashville, Tennessee. He went on to perform with Spirit of Atlanta in 2014 and 2015 and served as section leader in his last year.
Aside from his performing career, Blake has been an active designer and educator for both indoor and outdoor ensembles across the country. He has worked with groups such as Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Murray High School (KY), Mayfield High School (KY), Reeths-Puffer High School (MI), and Greendale High School (WI).
He served on the Visual Staff at Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps in 2016 and is currently serving on the Visual Staff for Music City Drum and Bugle Corps.
He is also the President and Co-Founder/Director of Agency Indoor, an Independent WGI Winds group based in Murray, Kentucky, with which he also serves as Visual Designer and Co-Caption Head.
Blake attended Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, where he studied Graphic Design and Advertising.
- What is the best way to contact you? -
To contact me, the preferred and quickest way is through email. I always have my email at hand, whether I am on my computer at home or with my phone on the go, so you can expect quick responses. This allows me to be a lot more productive while I am working on music, at home, or while I am at school. Please contact me initially through my contact page displayed on the menu above.
- How much does commissioning an original show or custom arrangement cost? -
The cost of commissioning an original or custom-arranged marching band show varies by a few factors. Please contact me at email@example.com for more details!
- What is included with my marching band show purchase? -
Both new commissions and existing arrangements include a complete set of scores, which includes a master, wind, and percussion score. Also included is an mp3 recording of the show, including any sound effects or voiceovers that may have been included or discussed in the planning process. Regional exclusivity is also included as part of the purchase.
- How flexible are you with payments? -
Typically, I require a 30% down payment before the writing process begins, and then I would expect the rest after the music has been sent out. However, I understand that all schools handle their payments differently, and that sometimes cash flow problems can occur at the end of a band's fiscal year, so I am extremely flexible and understanding when it comes to payment. Please ask any questions you may have. I am almost always willing to extend billing deadlines, if necessary, so that payment is a comfortable process.
- What is the process for obtaining copyright or a "permission to arrange" license? -
Obtaining copyright or getting a permission to arrange license involves contacting the publishing company and/or the copyright holder. There are a couple of companies that can do this for you that I can recommend. Once the proper signed documentation has been obtained by me and all licenses have been approved, I can begin the process of arranging a show. Under NO circumstances will I send out any music without copyright permissions being obtained and the approved documentation.
- Once I purchase or commission a show, how long do I have permission to perform it? -
Performances licenses are granted on a per-season basis only. You may perform your show freely until January 1st of the following year after you commission a show. If you want to use work past this date, additional permissions are required.
- Is it possible to simplify or water down (difficulty or instrumentation) of an already-written show? -
Absolutely. I want all of my works to be playable for any group. However, this may take a fair amount of time, and will require an additional fee. Please contact me for details.
- May we modify the composition/arrangement or orchestration of one of your shows? -
Minor adjustments such as fixing wrong harmonies/notes, minor restoring to meet drill needs, or other minor errors can be done at little to no additional charge. However, larger adjustments such as transitions, reducing instrumentation, or other time-consuming adjustments will take time and will require an additional fee. Even cutting out a small section, even 4 bars, require a healthy dose of work, which requires but is not limited to cleaning transitions, extracting new parts and reformatting the music.
- May we change the title of one of your shows? -
If you would like to change the title of your show, I am completely open to it. I want your show title to represent how you envision the show and for it to fit your theme. If you would also like to alter some of the music on your own (changing/simplifying a simple melody, for example) without requiring score edits or requiring new parts, that is also permitted, as I want your group to play the show at the best of their ability. I am sure that any changes will be approached with taste and care.
- What are some advantages of using one an original show over a custom arrangement? -
By using an original show, there is no need to deal with the hassles of obtaining copyright to perform the music. This can sometimes be a lengthy process, and under no circumstances will I send out music until all of the proper documentation has been signed and approved, and this may cause delays in rehearsal time depending on how long it takes for a publishing company to approve "permission to arrange" licensing, if they even approve it at all. Another great advantage of using an original work versus an arrangement is the exclusivity that it gives your group. If your group uses famous or well-known songs, there is a very high chance that one of the groups you are competing against or performing with could also be using the same material. Also, copyright licenses can be incredibly expensive, up to several hundreds of dollars per song.
Another great way to avoid copyright hassles if you do not want to utilize a fully original work, is to choose songs that are in the public domain.
- What materials do you need when writing a custom arrangement? -
For custom arrangements that require public domain music, IMSLP is a great resource to go to as a composer to get access to scores. However, when writing custom arrangements that require pieces that are not in the public domain, I may need to purchase a score of the respective piece(s) for reference, which will then be added to the base commissioning rate.
- What is regional protection? -
Regional protection is an exclusivity that ensures that you don't compete against someone who is using the same show. This protection is typically offered state-wide, by class. If you intend to compete at shows outside of the state, or at any BOA event, please notify me so I can ensure that you are not competing against the same show. If another group is interested in performing the same show, I will contact you so that we can compare show schedules and we can determine the likelihood of a conflict. The group that made the purchase first will make the final decision on who performs at what venue.
- How much time in advance do you need to write a show? -
Writing a show takes a lot of time. Depending on the show, efficiency of communication and the "ebb and flow of ideas," a show usually takes me between a few days to up to three weeks to write. I typically work on groups at a first-come, first-serve basis. Typically, I prefer shows to be reserved before May 1st so I can have enough time to get them to you by the time rehearsal season rolls around, though if you are interested in using one of my works after this date, chances are I will still take you on.
- Can I request a perusal score? -
Of course! Perusal scores are sent out to band directors that express interest in a certain show, and to see the general voicings/ranges, instrumentation and difficulty of a particular show. To protect the originality of the works however, perusal scores include only the odd-numbered pages.
I sometimes get asked what equipment, gear and software I use to write and create my music, so here is a list of a lot of items that I use to make my music-making possible:
- Apple iMac Retina 5K (Late 2015), Intel Quadcore i5, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB RAM, Mac OS 10.13.1 (High Sierra) -
- HP Pavilion 27Q 4K Display Monitor -
- Apple MacBook Pro w/ Retina Display (Late 2013), Intel Core i7, 500GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Mac OS 10.11.2 (El Capitan) -
- BOSE Companion 20 Speakers -
- Finale v.25 -
- Kontakt 5 -
- Logic Pro X -
- Vienna Ensemble -
- Vienna Symphonic Library Special Editions: Volumes 1, 2, and 4 -
- Fanfare by Sample Logic -
- Virtual Ensemble Trilogy by Sample Logic -
- Rhythmology by Sample Logic -
- Virtual Drumline 2.5 -
- Yamaha DGX-650 Grand Digital Piano -