Music & Visual
David Nicholson was band director for the Carthage, MS schools after graduating from Mississippi State University. He guided the Carthage band program to its first ever All-Superior ratings. Nicholson then served the Pearl Municipal School District, where All-Superior ratings were earned in concert, marching, sight reading, and jazz throughout his tenure as director of bands, including an MBA (now Bands of America) Regional Championship (Houston, TX). The Pearl Band also placed 2nd and 5th overall in the MBA/BOA Summer Nationals (Whitewater, Wisconsin) and Grand Nationals (Johnson City, TN) respectively.
David and his wife Sue together were named Most Outstanding Band Directors in Mississippi in 1982- 83. The Nicholson’s twice served as directors of the Miss. Lions All-State Band, winning the Lions International Championship one year, and the other year performing a field show in the Durban, S. Africa Military Tattoo eight consecutive nights.
David is a member of Phi Beta Mu, Phi Mu Alpha, Mississippi Bandmasters Association, and Florida Bandmasters Association, and has adjudicated band events in 11 states. After a career in sales, David most recently served as Assistant Director of Bands, Madison Central HS, Madison, MS, and is now an active member of the USBands Adjudication Team
Sue Nicholson graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. Mrs. Nicholson taught instrumental music for 13 years in Mississippi and 17 years in the Florida panhandle. While in Mississippi, Mrs. Nicholson helped lead the way for the Pearl High School Band to become nationally known at Bands of America competitions, where they consistently were finalists at regional competitions, including finalists at Summer Nationals and Grand Nationals. The Pearl Band is the first, and still one of only two Mississippi bands, along with Grenada, to be named Overall Grand Champions at a Bands of America Regional. The Nicholson’s together received the Phi Beta Mu Outstanding Bandmaster Award for Mississippi in 1983. Sue was twice on the staff of the Mississippi Lions All-State Band, including the band’s 1982 tour of South Africa, where the Lions Band performed a field show eight straight evenings at the Durban Military Tattoo, as well as performances in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
While in Florida, Sue taught band in Okaloosa and Walton Counties, first at Max Bruner Middle School, the feeder program for the nationally acclaimed Fort Walton Beach High School Band. She also started the instrumental music program at the Seaside Neighborhood School, Seaside, FL (one of Florida's first Charter Schools) and taught there 7 years. While at Seaside, the school received the Enrollment Award at FMEA for having over 70% of the school's enrollment participating in band. The band consistently earned Superior ratings at district FBA music performance evaluations. Her Seaside Jazz Band accompanied contemporary jazz saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, and Ellis Marsalis at the Seaside Jazz Festival.
Sue has judged marching bands and winter guards throughout the United States for 31 years, including marching band state championship finals in 8 states. She is a member of Phi Beta Mu, Florida Bandmasters Association, Gulf Coast Judges Association, the USBands Adjudication Team, was a Winter Guard International adjudicator for 28 years, and was the 2016 inductee into the Gulf Coast Color Guard Circuit Hall of Fame.
Sue moved back to Mississippi in 2014, where she is now a representative for Fear Nothing Music Gear, while continuing to judge marching band and winter guard competitions nationally.
Clif Smith is an accomplished music arranger, editor, drill writer, and production designer. Ensembles performing his arrangements have earned state championships, Bands of America (BOA) class championships, and have been broadcast on national television. He is the owner of Stratus Arts, Inc. and has been the music designer and editor for the Winter Guard International (WGI) World Class Color Guard, Onyx. He has judged for BOA, the ISSMA, the Ohio Indoor Performing Arts Association, the South Carolina Bandmasters Association, and the Florida Bandmasters Association, among others. Mr. Smith is the former Donald R. Shepherd Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Michigan, where he was the assistant director of the Michigan Marching Band. He holds a Master of Music Performance degree from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Auburn University. He and his wife are raising their three daughters in the rural Chicago suburban community of Manhattan.
Brandon Spidel is a Junior High Band Director in Fishers, IN. He has been teaching high school and middle school band since 1998. Brandon received his Bachelor's of Science in Music Education from Indiana State University.
Brandon is very active in developing and creating unique classroom techniques in the band setting and has presented at the Indiana Music Educator’s Association State conference.
He adjudicates for DCI (Drum Corps International), BOA (Bands of America), MEPA (Mid East Performance Association, IHSCGA (Indiana High School Color Guard Association), MSBA (MidStates Band Association) CITSA(Central Indiana Track Show Association), ISSMA (Indiana State School Music Association), TMA ( TriState Marching Arts), MCCGA (Mid-Continent Color Guard Association), and KMEA (Kentucky Music Educators Association).