Last week brought sad news for everyone connected to TBDBITL as Dr. James Moore, known to most as Doc, passed away at age 80. For over 20 years, until his retirement at the end of the 2004 season, Dr. Moore had served as the percussion instructor for the Ohio State Marching Band, contributing to evolution of the band and becoming a beloved figure to all band members
Dr. Moore didn’t have the background that one would necessarily expect for someone who would become such a major part of the Ohio State community. Doc was born in 1934 in Jackson, Michigan (birthplace of the Republican party, the coney island hot dog, former NFL coach Tony Dungy, and NASA astronaut James McDivitt). Not surprisingly for someone from a town only 40 miles away, Doc attended the University of Michigan for his bachelors and masters degrees. Fortunately at this point Doc’s eyes turned south and he attended Ohio State for his PhD.
Ohio State obviously made an impression on Dr. Moore and after a career that included three years in the US Army teaching at the Armed Forces School of Music in Washington, DC, he returned to OSU in 1981 as the percussion instructor for the marching band. While many people think of drummers as people who just hit things really loudly to help keep a beat and make noise, Doc knew that percussionists where just as musical as any other musician and he helped bring about many innovations that improved the musicality of the OSUMB percussion section. Dr. Moore introduced multiple tenor drums, known as toms or quads, and tonal bass drums (bass drums of different sizes and thus pitches) to the section. By having toms and bass drums with different pitches, the percussion section could now play melodic lines, enhancing the sound and color of the band.