Jon P. Nichols

Jon Nichols

Dr. Jon P. Nichols is a professional music educator and conductor who, in 2024, is in his 18th year as music director of the Grand Rapids Accordion Ensemble. He has been a teacher and conductor since 1967, including 6 years as a private percussion teacher, soloist, and clinician while a student in high school and college, and 35 years as a professional music educator at the secondary and university levels in Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota. He retired in 2007 after heading the Wyoming Rogers High School Music Department for the last 20 years of his career. The Okemos, Michigan native holds degrees from Michigan State University and The University of Iowa.

Professionally, Nichols has distinguished himself as a performer, teacher, conductor, adjudicator, and activist for music education. As a percussion performer, his experience includes membership in the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, West Michigan Wind Symphony, Muskegon Civic Opera, Kalamazoo Concert Band, Cedar Rapids Municipal Band, Bemidji Choral Society, Grand Rapids Symphonic Band, and Zeeland Community Band. As a conductor, his leadership helped earn the Alpena, Michigan High School Band its first Division I rating in Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) concert festivals. The Vicksburg, Michigan High School Band under his direction performed as a feature band at both Western Michigan University and Michigan State University Band Days, and won the “Best in Class” award at the Six Flags Over Mid-America Concert Band Festival in St. Louis, Missouri. During his doctoral internship, he supervised student teachers for The University of Iowa School of Music and conducted the Iowa “University Band,” a group designed for non-music majors who simply enjoyed playing in a concert band. Nichols also served as a professor and director of the long-established Bemidji, Minnesota State University Summer Music Camp. In the Wyoming Public Schools, Rogers and Jackson Park Bands under his direction earned 16 Division I ratings in MSBOA marching festivals, 13 first place awards in West Michigan marching band invitational festivals, and 36 Division I ratings in MSBOA concert band festivals. The Wyoming Rogers Wind Symphony also received the third place trophy at the Music in the Parks Festival in Washington, D.C. and first place trophy at the Heritage Concert Band Festival in Nashville, Tennessee. Nichols authored the first performance-based curriculum for instrumental music study in the Wyoming Public Schools and was active in school district public relations and community outreach during his long tenure with the WPS. Regionally, nationally, and internationally recognized conductors and soloists appeared on a regular basis with his bands. These individuals included William Berz, Kenneth Bloomquist, David Catron, Leonard Falcone, Robert Gray, Eddie Green, Tom Hagen, Bob Havens, Steve Houghton, Daniel Kovats, John Madden, Leonard Meretta, Howard Niblock, Stephen Peterson, Jack Pierson, Paul Stanifer, Richard Suddendorf, Richard Swinsick, Henry Vander Linde, and John Whitwell.

Dr. Nichols held leadership roles in a number of professional and community organizations, including president of the West Michigan Wind Symphony, MSBOA district executive board officer, and as a charter member and recording secretary of the Bemidji Kiwanis Club. He was appointed national research coordinator of the American School Band Directors Association (ASBDA) in 1989 and served in that capacity and as a member of the ASBDA national executive board until 2002. Nichols has authored 30 articles on music education that have appeared in various professional journals and is credited for developing the first published performance-based curriculum for instrumental music, released by ASBDA, in 1992. From 2005-2009, he was a member of the planning commission and equipment coordinator for the newly established Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids. Nichols was one of the most experienced and sought-after adjudicators in MSBOA solo/ensemble and concert festivals from 1979-2021. He also adjudicated similar festivals in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Manitoba. Since 2008, he has served as the Honorary and Emeritus Activities Chair for MSBOA. Nichols has both sponsored and presented numerous sessions at music conferences in North and South Carolina, Ohio, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan.

In addition to his work with the Grand Rapids Accordion Ensemble, Dr. Nichols offers his services to school band programs for clinics and concert critiques. His wife, Janet S. Nichols, also a retired music educator, is the assistant director, flutist, and principal arranger for the Grand Rapids Accordion Ensemble. Before her retirement, she served as director of choral activities and associate director of bands at Wyoming Rogers and Jackson Park. Previous teaching posts included those in Howard City, Vicksburg, Iowa City, Iowa, and Blackduck, Minnesota. Jon and Janet Nichols are the parents of two grown children and the proud grandparents of Abigail SueAnn Cole and Riley Preston Cole.