Scott Boerma’s life has always revolved around the steady drumbeat of marching bands.
He grew up watching his father direct high school marching bands, and followed in his coordinated footsteps.
After spending two decades directing various marching bands – most recently, the band at Eastern Michigan University – Boerma now occupies the conductor’s ladder at the Big House on football Saturdays. It’s his first season as the director of the Michigan Marching Band.
His first experience with the University came while he was pursuing his masters degree in music at the School of Music just over 10 years ago.
While at the University, Boerma studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom and wrote a number of pieces for the marching band. Boerma is slated to teach courses next semester in music education while finishing up his doctorate in musical arts at Michigan State University.
After graduating from the University, Boerma worked as the band director at Lampshire High School in Madison Heights, Mich. for four years. He then directed the Novi High School marching band for six years.
Boerma said he would be reluctant to go back into high school band directing because of its interference with his composition.
“Being a public school teacher is all-consuming,” he said. “For a year (after-wards), all I did was write music. It was great.”
Composition has been a consistent part of Boerma’s life. He has a 22-year history of writing music and instructing the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps of Madison, Wisc., a highly competitive summer band program that draws people from all over the globe.
John Zastoupil, Eastern Michigan University’s current band director, knows Boerma on both a personal and professional level.
“The band works like one big family, so everyone really knows each other,” he said.
Zastoupil said a large portion of Boerma’s reputation was a result of his work with the Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps.
“You can ask anyone around the country, and they know the name Scott Boerma for marching band directing,” Zastoupil said.
Boerma said he has no career plans beyond finishing his doctorate and doing his job at the University.
“He’s one of those guys who almost makes you sick whenever you get around him,” Zastoupil said. “He’s always smiling, always glowing – he really loves his work.”
LSA senior Claudia Ng, a marching band piccolo player, said Boerma’s influence on the band hasn’t been too drastic.
But Ng said the seniors in the band feel the change in band directors more than the underclassmen because they were so comfortable with former director Jamie Nix.
Compared to Boerma, Nix focused more on the marching itself and less on the sound of the band, Ng said. Nix left his post after last season to study for a doctoral degree at the University of Miami.
“We have a tendency to focus more on music now,” she said. “We feel rushed in terms of drills, but come Saturday, we still look good and sound good on the field.”