Alex Thode has been heavily involved in the marching arts since 2008, and is becoming a highly sought-after arranger for marching bands across the continental United States. His intuitive sense of musical color, emotion, pacing and direction helps derive maximum general effect in his marching band arrangements. He aims to steer 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 includes numerous class champions and runners-up, semi-finalists, finalists and grand champions at the local and state level. His clients have also been Bands of America (BOA) Regional Finalists, as well as regular participants at BOA Grand Nationals and many other Regional and Super Regional events.
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 their Sudler Shield award-winning marching band as a member of the front ensemble for all four years, where he also served as section leader his senior year. He was also the proud recipient of the John Philip Sousa award. Immediately after graduating in 2012, he joined the Greendale band staff as a front ensemble technician until 2014, and has been arranging their music and serving as an additional music instructor since 2013. During his time with Greendale, his arrangements have been performed by them in the 2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and will also be featured in the 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.
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.
“We started working with Alex [during the 2018 season] and I was completely blown away by his dedication and professionalism. Alex is extremely communicative and made our program feel valued and involved in the arranging process. He was open to new ideas, an evolving show concept, and was extremely flexible. His arrangement was creative, paced well, and was extremely playable. His arranging style and attention to detail allowed our program to sound mature and sophisticated. Multiple judges at every contest we attended this season commented on the high quality and creative wind arrangement. Alex never missed a deadline, always communicated what he was working on, and was always willing to go the extra mile to ensure our program had the product we envisioned. He is truly a class act and we will definitely be working with him for years to come!”
- Nick Little
Director of Bands
Campbell County High School, KY
“To say Alex is an expert music designer and creator is an understatement. As our arranger for the last several years, I am always impressed and excited to teach the books he has written as they are well-constructed and highlight the best parts of my ensemble. He is a consummate professional that communicates and delivers in a timely and consistent manner. During the design process, Alex’s expertise has proven to be invaluable as we navigate ways to accommodate the incoming members while balancing an educational and exciting musical product with innovation and relevance. I would recommend Alex Thode’s music to any director of any skill level — your kids’ sound is worth it!”
- Brandon Lesando
Director of Bands
Blue Valley Southwest High School, KS
“For kids to leave any stage feeling accomplished, many band directors would agree a crucial step begins with tailoring repertoire that suits his or her ensemble. With this in mind, it was Alex Thode’s composition style that helped alleviate many pressures this season. His arrangements are school-minded, creative, innovative, and trended with what appeals to students today. Firsthand, I watched my kids enjoy playing and my staff become creatively uplifted working with Alex Thode. Moreover, Alex left upon us a colorful signature and a unique sound, which gave us the opportunity to leave the field feeling proud after every performance.”
- Mike Knepper
Director of Bands
Musselman High School, WV
“Immediately, we were impressed with Alex’s musicianship, creativity, and enthusiasm. He is the consummate professional, he responds quickly to communication, meets deadlines, works to create the best product for his clients, and has the experience to provide guidance and suggestions. Our students love playing his music and as a director, I love seeing the growth in their playing. If you are looking for a new composer/arranger, Alex Thode is the way to go — you can’t go wrong.”
- Meg Beavers
Director of Bands
Licking Heights High School, OH
"I have worked with Alex Thode for three high school marching band commissions as well as two middle school concert band commissions [as of 2016]. 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
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
- 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.26 -
- 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 -